Water heaters have been a household staple for over 50 years. Most modern homes in North America require hot water for daily tasks such as washing dishes, showering, running the washing machine and much more. Hot water is so important in modern homes but the truth is it’s also quite costly. The amount of energy required to heat your water and keep it warm throughout the day is about 17% of your daily energy use.
The vast majority of water heaters in homes today are storage tank water heaters. They are still by far the most popular and common. However, Tankless hot water heaters, also known as on-demand water heaters challenge the traditional concept of a storage-tank water heater. They aim to reduce energy consumption by heating water on demand when it is needed rather than constantly.
Whether you are looking to replace your old storage-tank water heater or you need a new tankless water heater there are pros and cons to each type. Let’s explore these two popular appliances and determine which would be best for your specific needs.
Storage Tank Water Heaters
What Are Storage Tank Water Heaters?
Storage tank water heaters come in a variety of sizes. Their defining feature is a large metal tank used to hold several gallons of water. The actual size of the tank depends on how much water is required in your household daily. These water heaters can be both electric or fuelled by natural gas. There are even some options that use propane. The purpose of the large tank is to keep your water hot and store it at a steady temperature throughout the day. This means that when you are ready to use hot water it is available for you.
The downside to hot water tanks is that they use quite a bit of energy even when you are not using the appliance, they have to keep the water warm at all times in case you need it. This can lead to passive energy loss, which builds up over the month and can lead to higher energy bills.
Purchase Price and Installation
Storage tank water heaters are still the most common form of water heaters in Vancouver homes and they are popular due to the fact that they are easy to replace and relatively inexpensive to buy. Storage tank water heaters start at around $2000, but can be as high as $4000. When choosing a new model, be sure to check for the ENERGY STAR approval rating, before your purchase.
One common objection to storage tank water heaters is that they are large and take up a lot of space. Some models can be over 5 ft tall and take up a significant amount of space in your home or office. This makes them a less popular option for those with smaller homes who are looking to maximize their square footage.
Storage tank water heaters can last for 8-10 years with proper care and maintenance. The installation process is also relatively simple with many homeowners attempting to do it themselves. We do not suggest this, however, as improper installation can lead to leaks and damage to the appliance. The longevity largely depends on the quality of parts but one thing to be aware of is that storage tank water heaters are susceptible to rust and corrosion over time. That is why, if you notice leaks or discoloured water, it’s a warning sign that it’s time for a replacement.
Tankless Water Heaters
What Are Tankless Water Heaters?
Tankless water heaters have gained popularity in recent years for several different reasons. Primarily, they are unique in the sense that they can heat water almost instantly, without a large storage tank. They eliminate passive energy loss because they do not have a large hot water tank to keep water warm throughout the day. Rather, they heat water on demand when it is required. This means that they can be both energy efficient as well as space-saving. Eliminating the bulky storage tank, tankless models can be mounted to the wall, which makes them excellent options for those with less floor space.
Energy Use and Efficiency
Tankless water heaters rapidly heat water to the correct temperature as it passes through heat exchangers within the compact system. This removes the potential for standby energy loss which can occur with traditional water heaters. Depending on your usage and daily hot water requirements it is likely that you could see savings of up to 70% on energy.
Purchase Price and Rebates
The initial purchase price is higher for tankless water heaters and can range from as low as $1000 to over $7000. They also require more complex installation, with separate venting needed specifically for gas models. The other downside to tankless water heaters is the fact that they require large amounts of energy all at one time in order to heat water seemingly instantly. This can quickly outweigh their Energy Efficiency if you have a large household that requires hot water constantly.
However, there are many rebates in BC for those looking to purchase tankless water heaters, they help to compensate buyers for the higher upfront cost.
Tankless water heaters can last for up to 20 years with proper care and maintenance. They last up to twice as long as traditional water heaters. When you are comparing tankless heaters to those with tanks, it is important to consider the long run. You will have your tankless water heater for significantly longer than its storage tank alternative.
Fast Facts: Advantages And Disadvantages
Storage Tank Water Heaters
- Lower initial purchase price
- Easy installation
- Common in most Vancouver homes
- Large tank takes up space
- Lower lifespan of 8-10 years
- Not always the most energy-efficient option
Tankless Water Heaters
- Long-Lasting (up to 20 years)
- Energy-efficient + rebates available
- High up-front cost
- More complex installation process
- Can actually use more energy in a high-use household
Weighing the Pros and Cons
Ultimately, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to determine which type of water heater is best for your specific needs. It’s important to think about the amount of hot water you and your family use throughout the day.
Not sure how to choose the right hot water heater? Check out this buyer’s guide.
Contact Uncle Bill’s Hillcrest Plumbing and Heating
Uncle Bill’s Hillcrest Plumbing & Heating has been serving the Lower Mainland for over 50 years. Our experienced, full-service team can assist with installation maintenance and repairs of tankless water heaters as well as storage tank water heaters. We offer 24/7 emergency plumbing services. We have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and are committed to serving you while ensuring your safety. Click to contact us or call 604-879-1415 for your free estimate.