With all the encouragement out there to “go green” and save money, you might be tempted to install a tankless water heater in your home. But is it really a worthwhile investment? Let’s take a look at the facts.

Will a tankless water heater save me money?

Tankless water heaters use high-powered burners to heat water as it runs over a heat exchanger rather than pulling water from a tank like traditional water heaters. This makes tankless water heaters about 20 percent more energy efficient than gas-fueled traditional water heaters, which equals anywhere from $70 to $100 a year in energy savings.

But here’s the catch: tankless water heaters are both significantly pricier to purchase, anywhere from two to four times as expensive, and they require special electrical outlets, electronics, upgraded gas pipes and a new installation system. The purchase price alone means it could take you up to 22 years to break even according to Consumer Reports, and, considering that most models only have a 20-year life span, that’s not such a great investment. Throw in the renovation and installation costs, and you’re looking at an almost guaranteed financial loss when compared to a traditional water heater.

Do tankless water heaters offer instant hot water?

This is a common advertised benefit of tankless water heaters, but in truth, they’re not yet as instant and continuous as we’d like them to be. Just like traditional water heaters, any cold water in the pipes will have to come through your faucet before the hot water can, and it still takes time for the water to heat to the desired temperature, though it may be less.

Another issue is that the tankless water heater’s burners don’t always ignite if you’re only using a small amount of water. Again according to Consumer Reports, inconsistent water temperature is a common complaint. It’s also worth noting that, because tankless water heaters use electricity rather than gas, if you have a power outage, you’re going to be taking cold showers.

What about helping the environment?

There’s no doubt that tankless water heaters have the potential to some day be an excellent option, and, if you’re building a new home or planning major renovations, tankless water heaters are certainly worth exploring. But if you need to replace your old water heater, the good news is that there are plenty of Energy-Star Qualified traditional water heaters available these days. These are an excellent compromise if you’re looking to balance energy savings and upfront costs.

Who can I talk to about purchasing a new water heater?

Our plumbing experts at Andy’s Pipe Dream can help you choose the best water heater for your home and budget, whether that’s a tankless water heater or a traditional one. We have more than 20 years of plumbing experience in the greater Kansas City area, and we cover all our parts and labor with both a warranty and a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee. If you’d like more information about installing a new water heater or having an old one serviced, give us a call at 913-210-5598, or visit our website.