We have a strange- looking contraption in our bathroom. It’s about the size of a carry-on suitcase and mounted to our wall above the commode. Copper pipes extend from the case like octopus arms that curve and climb. Mounted next to that is a small white keypad about the size of an alarm clock. This is our tankless water heater. It provides us with bottomless hot showers while cutting our water heating costs in half, according to a study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
Heating water using traditional tank water heaters accounts for the most inefficient use of home energy, costing homeowners 14 to 30 cents out of every dollar spent on utilities. Tankless units are the most efficient water heaters on the market, and come in both electric and gas models. They heat your water only when needed, so there is no tank of hot water standing by all day while you’re at work. It also means that you won’t ever run out of hot water. This is the benefit enjoyed most by our soon-to-be teenage daughter.
The other fun thing about our tankless gas model is that we each have the ability to program the unit to give us the water temperature we like best. It’s like a sleep number, only for your shower. Our daughter likes her showers at 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Our son, 106. Dan showers at 110 degrees and I like my showers the way I like my coffee – scalding hot. I set the keypad at 112 degrees, and I enjoy every minute of it.
We purchased a tankless unit made by Richmond over seven years ago, and the technology has come a long way since then. Even the studies that report energy savings of $175 a year for a family of four are now dated, because these units have become even more efficient, and the costs have come down.
Richmond units are made by Rheem manufacturing, energy-star rated and backed by a warranty that actually means something. Two years ago, the cooling fan on our unit broke. The fan was out-of-stock at the time, and after 10 days with no hot water, we were all getting a little cranky. Dan called the company, and they responded by over-nighting us a brand new tankless water heater at no cost to us. Because Richmond is constantly improving their product, the exact fan for our unit was back-ordered, and rather than make us wait, they sent us a brand new unit that was bigger and more efficient than the model we had before. Now that’s standing by your product! It’s refreshing to find a company committed to both innovation and customer service.
To learn more about what it might cost to install a tankless water heater in your home or apartment, I recommend reading this current (2021) article Tankless vs Tank Water Heaters. Curated by the do-it-yourselfer website Sensible Digs, this article covers everything you need to know about installation, unit price, energy efficiency, and maintenance.
The following websites might also be of help, especially if your current unit is more than 13 years old.
The Nest: How Much Do Tankless Water Heaters Cost?