10 Questions: Tankless Water Heaters

10 Questions: Tankless Water Heaters


Tankless water heaters are some of the hottest new technologies going into homes today. Many builders offer tankless heaters as an upgrade option and a greener way to save the energy used to repeatedly heat water stored in a tank.

In tankless heaters, the water is heated in a set of pipes on demand and sent to a sink, faucet, shower or even heating equipment only as you need it. That means you’ll still get some cool water first, unless a hot water recirculation system or timer is also used. (Keep reading, we’ll get to that.)

Water heating represents about 20 percent of a home’s energy costs, and tankless water heaters can save up to 34 percent of those costs. Energy Star estimates that a typical family can save $100 or more per year with an Energy Star-qualified tankless water heater. However, tankless systems can cost as much as three times the price of tank-based systems, flow rates can decrease with simultaneous use if a tankless system isn’t sized properly, and some gas models require larger incoming gas lines.

To help demystify tankless water heaters and what builders and homebuyers should know, we consulted the experts at two of the top tankless heating manufacturers, Rinnai and Navien America. Aaron Baugh is the national builder sales manager at Rinnai, and Brian Fenske is the specialty channel sales manager at Navien America. Here’s what they had to say.


[tps_title]Choosing Tankless Water Heater[/tps_title]

1. When is tankless the right choice for a water heater?

Fenske: Besides the touted energy savings due to high-efficiency combustion processes, the unit’s small size saves space. Many can be installed with sealed combustion (two-pipe venting) so you’re not losing conditioned air up the flue. And most importantly, they offer endless hot water, so no more cold showers on busy mornings or when guests stay over.

Baugh: Tankless water heaters are technologically advanced appliances that that revolutionize comfort and convenience by providing:

  • An endless supply of hot water.
  • Lower energy bills.
  • Space savings.
  • Longer lifespan of up to 20 years.
  • A reduction in HERS (Home Energy Rating Score) points [the lower the better].
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  1. Peter

    Great piece of article. Loved it. This will help the beginner as well to take the right decision when buying a tankless water heater for first time.

  2. Glenn

    I’m looking at three different heaters. They are all about the same kw, but have vastly different gpm. That doesn’t make sense to me. If the same energy is being used it has to take the same flow to get to the same temperature. Whose rating is correct and who is overstating the flow rate?
    19.2kw 2.91 gpm.
    18kw 3.5gpm,
    18kw max flow 7gpm

    I’m guessing the 19.2kw is the truthful one.

  3. Shad Morris

    The water heater in our house is acting pretty strange, and we were thinking about getting it replaced. It’s interesting that tankless heaters actually have a lower energy bill. I would love to be able to save a little money, and be able to still get the hot water we need.

  4. Marc

    We just bought a house with a gas Bosch tankless water heater. I thought what I had was a cold water sandwich problem but after reading extensively that may not be the case. Ours will take a minute or two to warm up and be fine for about a minute. Then, it will surge back and forth between hot (scorching) and cold for a good 8-10mins. Then, after the surging it will go cold completely until you shut it off. Not sure where to start and can’t find a similar problem discussed anywhere. Any suggestions?


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