LESLIE: Now we’ve got David in Tennessee on the line who’s looking at changing out a water heater. How can we help you with that project?
DAVID: I’m changing out a tank – electric water heater. But the idea is to change out electric for electric but get one of these energy-saving wall-mounted ones. And if I do that, what anticipated payback theory do I want to be looking at?
TOM: Well, I think you’re talking about a tankless water heater. And the problem is that electric water heaters are not necessarily very efficient as tankless water heaters. Only gas – either propane or natural gas can – only by using those fuels can you get a very efficient tankless water heater.
What you can do, however, is you could switch from a standard electric water heater to what’s called a heat-pump water heater. That’s the newest line of efficiencies in electric water heaters. And heat-pump water heaters use a refrigeration system to basically deliver hot water when it can and then has an electric backup.
In terms of the payback on that, compared to a standard water heater, I think that you will get a decent payback on that. But keep in mind that they’re going to be more expensive in terms of the payment – the initial purchase.
DAVID: OK. So what I had looked at was going to be somewhere between $900 and $1,200, depending on the volume, you know? And so I’m thinking, “Well, yeah, it makes it a $1,200 investment.” So, if I were to do that, how many years would I be looking at, do you guess?
TOM: Well, first of all, I don’t know if you were looking at a heat-pump water heater. It sounds to me like you were looking at an electric tankless water heater, which is not very efficient, so …
DAVID: OK. That is correct. Yes, sir.
TOM: Yeah. That said, a water heater – a heat-pump water heater – is going to last you probably a good 15 or 20 years. They’ll last a little bit longer, I think, than a standard tank water heater would.
DAVID: OK. Well, I just know it’s the right thing to do. It’s the right direction in which to head, for the sake of the planet, but I also have to work within my own budget.
TOM: Absolutely. Well, glad to help you out, David. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.