Professional bathers on closed course, do not try this at home.

While the subject of  water heaters isn’t sexy or dramatic and probably won’t give you an ‘aha’ moment, water heaters have a large role to play in the game of energy and water efficiency.

We’ve had a client (thanks, Bill) who forwarded a link to Consumer Reports and their review of tankless water heaters.  It was an interesting article and explained their pros and cons and how long it would take to recoup the expenditure of installing a tankless water heater.  It is very informative and if you are thinking of installing a tankless water heater, this will help you understand what to expect.  Here is the link:

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/appliances/heating-cooling-and-air/water-heaters/tankless-water-heaters/overview/tankless-water-heaters-ov.htm?INTKEY=I95BOE0

Unfortunately, the idea of you recouping the cost of installing a tankless water heater isn’t something your city or the State of California much care about.  This is the year that many cities and counties begin requiring a base level of efficiency for residential projects over a certain size (the size depends on the rules in your city/county).  This means that each facet of the project must achieve a minimum level of efficiency, aka green points, in order to be approved. 

http://www.builditgreen.org/what-is-green-building/  has info on what ‘green building’ is all about.

Although ‘green building’  is a subject for another time, basically, a project receives points for doing specific things and there is a checklist that’s used covering things like:  deconstructing the building vs demolishing it, recycling materials rather than trashing them, crawlspace moisture control, water-efficient landscaping, using recycled materials in your project, water-efficient fixtures, energy-efficient appliances, diagnostic testing of HVAC system, low or Zero-VOC paint, type of cabinets used…and on…and on…some simple and some not so much.

Using a tankless water heater adds points to the green bottom line and, if you’re like me, you hate the amount of water than goes down the drain while you’re waiting for the hot water, not to mention how I hate being last to take a shower and running out of hot water…you’d think with a husband and two boys that it wouldn’t happen but it has!

cute...no they're not mine...

A tankless water heater waits for you to turn on the hot water faucet, then it comes on and ‘flash heats’ the water.  It doesn’t continually heat water that sits in a big tank until you need it, like with an old-fashioned water heater.  The tankless water heater will keep heating the water passing through it until you turn the faucet off – imagine, virtually endless hot water! 

This becomes especially important if you have a big tub with bubbly jets.  I have a friend who said she could hardly ever use it because it was bigger than her water heater.  Bummer…

Switching over to tankless from regular isn’t for you unless you are already doing more than minor remodeling because you’ll be adding a gas line, manifold system and pex piping.  Water lines will be going directly to every faucet.

If I could add a tankless water heater right now, I would…we did add one to the spec house we did a couple years ago.  We didn’t have to, it was before Green Building had really taken off, but we knew it was an important piece of the reducing-our-carbon-footprint-puzzle, so we included it in the project.

Energy costs only go up and in California being water efficient is almost second nature – or it should be, although I still see people washing their cars in their driveways  and the water continually running from the hose.

Wasteful!

 
 Bottom line:  If you are doing a remodel of the kitchen or bathroom, consider using a tankless water heater.  It might not save you a bunch of money in gas in the short term, but it will also reduce your water bill and let you use your fancy bubbly-jet bathtub with less guilt. 
More importantly, though, its better for the environment and, frankly, that’s good for all of us 😉
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