I have heard that tankless water heaters are more energy efficient than conventional ones. Is it worthwhile cost-wise in the long run to replace my conventional one with a tankless in my North Carolina, home? Would I need only one? Where would I install it? What kind of savings could I expect on my utility bill?
Larry D. ~ Raleigh, North Carolina
I like tankless water heaters because they are energy efficient (which can lower your monthly utility bills), they mount on the wall (which opens up floor space), and when properly sized they can produce unlimited hot water. When building a new house, construction plans can dictate several small tankless water heaters at various locations, or instead, one centrally located larger unit can be used. In your situation, the existing design of your house would determine where you could install a tankless water heater and ultimately, if making the switch from your conventional water heater to the tankless model would save you money in the long run.
Tankless water heaters are electric or gas fired, and both power sources have their potential drawbacks for your specific house. Electric models require huge power loads from your service panel, which means that an older home with only a 100 amp service panel will not be able to adequately supply the load needed for an electric tankless water heater. On the other hand, gas fired models require correctly sized gas lines and ventalation flues at every unit's location. In either situation, investing the money for these needed home alterations may offset any monthly energy savings that a tankless model would yield.
Consult a professional contractor in your area to determine if your home is able to accommodate an electric or gas fired tankless water heater. If the switch can be made without significant remodeling, then I would consider purchasing a high efficiency rated model that has been professionally sized for your home's water needs.