Tankless Hot Water Heaters - How Do They Work? How Much Do They Cost?

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Home Builder with Stanton Homes - New Home Builder

Buying a New Home in Raleigh - Saving Energy

Tankless Water Heaters

 

tankless water heaters how much do they cost how do they work raleigh nc

Also called "Demand Water Heaters" or "Instantaneous Water Heaters", tankless water heaters are becoming more common.  Demand water heaters don't use a storage tank - instead, water is heated as you need it.

How Do Tankless Water Heaters Work?

Turn on the hot water to take a shower or wash some dishes, and cold water will travel through the pipes - until it reaches the tankless water heating unit.  At that point, a gas burner heats the water as it goes through a series of loops.  The result is hot water - at a rate of 2 to 5 gallons per minute.

How Much Hot Water Can a Demand Water Heater Produce?

There are a wide variety of tankless water heaters on the market today.  Most provide hot water at a rate of 2 to 5 gallons per minute.  This means that a typical full house water heater can probably support two users at the same time - say a washing machine and a shower, but not more than that. 

On the other hand, multiple uses on a standard water heater can cause the hot water tank to empty, after which users must wait for it to reheat. 

tankless water heaters how much do they cost how do they work raleigh ncShould I Get an Electric or Gas Tankless Water Heater?

In the state of North Carolina, Progress Energy advises against purchasing an electric water heater.  A typical standard electric water heater can use as much as 4500 watts of electricity - but an electric tankless water heater can use as much as 28,000 watts, which can cause a serious problem with the electrical supply.  And Progress Energy is holding homeowners liable for any repairs or upgrades that might be required because of such a system! 

Are There Ways to Increase the Amount of Hot Water Produced?

One way to increase the amount of hot water produced can be to install a small tankless water heater unit at each appliance or area that might need additional hot water, such as a hot tub, bathroom, dishwasher, or even as a booster for a solar water heating system. 

How Much Heat Should the Tankless Water Heater Add to the Water?

Since ground temperature stays a standard 50-55ºF, you should assume that your incoming water is at that temperature.  For nearly all uses, water should be heated to 120ºF.  Thus you'll want a water heater that supports a 70ºF rise in temperature.  If your dishwasher doesn't have an internal heater, you may want your water heated to 140ºF, a 90ºF rise in temperature.   

There are a variety of tankless water heaters available, from companies like these:

 

You can request your builder install a specific system, or can ask what they normally install.  Most good building contractors will take into account the size of the home and the number of bathrooms, and install a system they have found to be cost effective yet efficient. 

How Much Does a Tankless Hot Water Heater Cost in the Raleigh Area?Tankless Hot Water Heaters - How Do They Work?  How Much Do They Cost?

In the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area, typical quotes for the system plus installation during the new home building process can be anywhere from $2000 to $4000 more than a typical standard tank water heater, depending on the size of the home and the type of system. 

How Much Money Does a Tankless Hot Water Heater Save?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a tankless, or demand, hot water heater can save 24-34% more energy for homes that use 41 gallons of hot water or less daily.  And hot water usage generally accounts for 14-25% of the total energy consumed in a home.  Find out more here. 

How Do I Get a Tankless Water Heater Installed in My New Home?

Ask your builder, before constructions starts if possible, if they offer tankless water heaters.  If you have a specific brand and style in mind, ask for a price quote for the heater and all required installation (often larger gas lines will be required, and other changes will need to be made as well). 

Tankless hot water heaters are becoming more common, but are not yet included in standard building practices, mainly due to the cost involved.  But they can be a great choice to save long term energy costs and reduce reliance on natural gas, propane, or electricity. 

 

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Ambassador
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Frank Rubi
Frank Rubi Real Estate, LLC - Metairie, LA
FrankRubiRealEstate.com

Penny, Last year a rehab-er starting installing these heaters. I just talked to my client who purchased one of these listings. They are so happy with the hot water and the energy savings. When I need to replace in any of my units or my home I will install one of these.

Jul 30, 2008 11:57 PM #3
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Charlie Ragonesi
AllMountainRealty.com - Big Canoe, GA
Homes - Big Canoe, Jasper, North Georgia Pros

This is a really good post. I was exposed to these many years ago in Europe. It is good to see them finally getting here. Your post explains a lot in detail it is very good

Jul 31, 2008 12:08 AM #4
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Steve - happy to help.

Kenneth - I guess you know which installers NOT to go with!  I'm sure there are some capable, hardworking installers in your area - perhaps you could go to the local associations for recommendations?  Or call a couple of green or energy efficient builders in your area - they might be able to give you some good names. 

Jul 31, 2008 01:08 AM #5
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Frank - While all energy saving features have yet to gain a tremendous popularity, tankless hot water heaters are at the top of the list for some of the first changes to be made.

Charlie - thanks!  Europeans have been finding ways for several decades now to save water and energy.  You're right, it is good to see some of these features starting to gain popularity here.

Jul 31, 2008 01:10 AM #6
Rainmaker
193,804
Mary Strang
Viroqua, WI

Lots of information here, I was planning on having one installed just for the spa tub in the Master bath. However, my builder talked me out of it and now I live with an 80 gal conventional tank and a gas bill of $90 on average per month in the summer months, which tell me how much it cost to have that tub go un-used or used :-(

Jul 31, 2008 01:23 AM #8
Rainer
56,130
-- Casey Brischle
Columbia Bank - Spokane, WA
Spokane Home Loan Mortgage Professional

Penny:  Thank you for the post.  Very informative.  Do you know how reliable these systems are?  I have heard mixed reviews on reliablity and durability.  thanks again!

Jul 31, 2008 10:31 AM #9
Rainmaker
1,493,736
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

We love our "on demand" propane heater.  We also have solar hot water, so only turn on the propane one if we have a couple of cloudy days in a row (it can happen!).

Jul 31, 2008 02:26 PM #10
Anonymous
Jerry Spomo

I recommend the Hot Water Lobster Instant Hot Water Valve over a tankless.  Tankless heaters take even longer than traditional tanks to provide hot water!  Precious water is wasted down the drain while waiting for the heated water to travel to the tap.  Instead of waiting longer for hot water, you'll get it faster hot water with a Hot Water Lobster!  It gives convenient access to instant hot water throughout the entire home!  All you have to do is easily install it under your sink farthest from your water heater!  Hot Water Lobster uses your homes existing plumbing and water heater and costs only $179.95

The Hot Water Lobster uses no electricity and is pump free, so it creates no noise.  It saves water, time and energy!  Hot Water Lobster is made in the U.S.A., has a 10-year warranty, and can be easily installed in under 10 minutes.

Check it out at:

www.hotwaterlobster.com

Jul 31, 2008 02:46 PM #11
Rainmaker
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Michelle Finnamore
Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket - Vaughan, ON
Preparing your property for sale

I have had a tankless water heater for 4 years. It supplies hot water to my floors and throughout my entire household. I never have to wait for hot water to get to the tap as mine is gas. If you have an electric one you are going to wait.

I would never go back to the tank type, too expensive to run. Why heat your water 24 hours a day when you only use it for minutes per day.

Also, one benefit that is overlooked and not mentioned is that when you have in floor radiant heat, your ceramic toilets are always warm. Soooooo nice on a winter's morning in Canada.

Jul 31, 2008 02:54 PM #12
Rainer
22,161
Jack Climer
Jack Climer Realty, LLC - Springfield, MO

I have had a tankless water heater for little over a couple of years, the only problem with tankless water heater is that you will need to be able to vent up, not out... cost around 2400. installed..

Jul 31, 2008 03:04 PM #13
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Eric - Glad to help.

Casey - It really seems to depend on the brand and type of heater installed.  Each heater is rated and ranked for the heat it can produce at different water volumes.  As I mentioned, you'll want to look for a heater that can support the temperature increase you need, at the volume of water that you'll commonly use.  I don't know that there are many systems that will support, say, several showers at one time. 

Jul 31, 2008 10:28 PM #14
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Georgina - combining solar hot water and a tankless hot water heater can be a good combination, particularly for those cloudy days.  Sounds like yours is working out well!

Michelle - that can be a great advantage in a cold climate.

Jack - there's a few changes needed when installing a tankless versus standard.  It can be a big step up in price from a standard water heater, but it's one of the easiest steps towards becoming more energy efficient.

Jul 31, 2008 10:32 PM #15
Rainmaker
226,602
Michelle Finnamore
Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket - Vaughan, ON
Preparing your property for sale

Hi Penny, I actually have had one for four years that vents out not up. It is a Tekagi brand. Model - Junior.

Hope that helps if you have a client that needs venting that goes out.

Aug 01, 2008 12:03 AM #16
Rainer
84,210
Mary McGraw
GLREA - Rockford, MI
2015: Solar Energy Is Still A Simple Machine!

HI Penny ~ Good information on tankless water heaters. These systems can work quite well combined with Solar Hot Water. Then instead of heating 50 - 55 degree water they can start at 90 degrees or more and become even more effective! A perfect partnership!

Aug 01, 2008 01:25 PM #17
Rainmaker
185,778
Debra Kukulski, Broker Associate
RE/MAX Suburban - Cary, IL
SRES;SFR,CDPE;GRI;ABR;e-PRO Realtor, Northern IL

This is excellent information...I had been wondering how these work and have bookmarked your post, thanks!!!

Aug 02, 2008 03:37 AM #18
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Michelle - thank you, always helps to hear about products with a proven record!

Mary - you're one of several who have suggested combining with a solar water heater, you're right, it's a great idea (probably want something where you can turn the pilot light off when you don't need it)

Debra - Happy to help.

Aug 03, 2008 11:00 PM #19
Rainmaker
67,128
Kevin Corsa
H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties) - Canton, OH
H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector

This is a great post with a lot of good info about tankless that people should know. I wasn't aware that they were now $2000 to $4000 More Expensive than a tank water heater though. That part was surprising to me.

Aug 03, 2008 11:09 PM #20
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Kevin - they are higher than a standard water heater, which is probably a big part of why tankless water heaters are not yet standard in new homes.  But costs are slowly coming down as demand increases - we'll let you know any further updates to pricing.

Aug 05, 2008 05:02 AM #21
Anonymous
Alexis

Can anyone tell me how much their monthly bill was with a tank type water heater, and then how much it is now with a tankless one?

I am doing a project for school on energy efficiency and I'm trying to figure this out

Nov 02, 2009 07:22 AM #22
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Alexis - The best resource for you will probably be Southern Energy Management.  They've done and continue to do some incredible research!

Their FAQ library is really impressive:

http://www.southern-energy.com/content/faq+library/1385

 

Nov 03, 2009 01:12 AM #23
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