I just got back from about three weeks in Japan. It’s pretty crazy over there. I ate some fish that was pretty much still alive. I went to a huge karaoke place and had to wait over an hour just to get a booth (5 stories and completely jammed packed). I rode packed subways, fighting the pulsing and swelling crowds, using my daughter’s stroller as a plow to create an opening of escape for us. Marveled at the fun fire hydrants (see the pic below), the underground malls and the paths for the blind (see pic). But the one thing I like. I mean I REALLY dug it. Was the water heaters. Water heaters that never run out of hot water. OMG.
So I’m on a mission. A mission to spread the word about on demand water heaters.
I love them. I mean, they don’t run out of hot water and they conserve energy. What’s not to love?
On Demand Water Heaters Use Less Energy
I checked out energy.gov for some info about on demand water heaters and efficiency. Guess what I found? They are truly more efficient. Here’s some info from the site:
For homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily, demand water heaters can be 24%–34% more energy efficient than conventional storage tank water heaters. They can be 8%–14% more energy efficient for homes that use a lot of hot water — around 86 gallons per day. You can achieve even greater energy savings of 27%–50% if you install a demand water heater at each hot water outlet. ENERGY STAR® estimates that a typical family can save $100 or more per year with an ENERGY STAR qualified tankless water heater.
How Tankless Water Heaters Work
The high efficiency thing got me thinking. How do these wonderful things work? How do they defy reality and the laws of physics by providing a NEVER ENDING stream of hot water! I’m serious. You could take a 4 hour shower and it WILL NEVER GET COLD. How cool is that? Again, I turned to the experts at energy.gov for some answers:
Tankless water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit. Either a gas burner or an electric element heats the water. As a result, tankless water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water. You don’t need to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water. However, a tankless water heater’s output limits the flow rate.
Typically, tankless water heaters provide hot water at a rate of 2–5 gallons (7.6–15.2 liters) per minute. Gas-fired tankless water heaters produce higher flow rates than electric ones. Sometimes, however, even the largest, gas-fired model cannot supply enough hot water for simultaneous, multiple uses in large households. For example, taking a shower and running the dishwasher at the same time can stretch a tankless water heater to its limit. To overcome this problem, you can install two or more tankless water heaters, connected in parallel for simultaneous demands of hot water. You can also install separate tankless water heaters for appliances — such as a clothes washer or dishwater — that use a lot of hot water in your home.
In Japan, there were controls for heaters usually in bathrooms and in kitchens. This would suggest that they use the method of having different heaters in different locations. This is definitely something I will consider, though it sounds like it could greatly up the cost.
Speaking of Costs…
Are they really that much more expensive? Is the extra expense worth it? Let’s take a look:
The initial cost of a tankless water heater is greater than that of a conventional storage water heater, but tankless water heaters will typically last longer and have lower operating and energy costs, which could offset its higher purchase price. Most tankless water heaters have a life expectancy of more than 20 years. They also have easily replaceable parts that extend their life by many more years. In contrast, storage water heaters last 10–15 years.
So there you have it. I’m sold. I’ll put in the investment and enjoy the results.
A four-hour shower?
If I want to, I can, with a tankless water heater.