LESLIE: Talking to Laney in New Jersey about a water heater. What’s going on and how can we help?
LANEY: Well, I need to replace a hot water heater and I’m hearing about tankless water heaters and wondering what would be best to replace the heater with.
TOM: Well, I think tankless water heaters are an excellent idea. They differ from your tanked water heaters because they only heat water when you need it. They work on an on-demand basis. So in other words, when you call for hot water when you turn on the faucet, the water heater comes on as soon as the water starts to move through the pipes and heats the water up instantly and then supplies it to the fixture the same way a conventional water heater would do. The advantage here is that – because you’re only heating the water when you need it you’re saving an awful lot of energy, both in the electricity it takes to run it and the gas it takes to run it. So I think that they’re a great idea and we are very, very big fans of them.
LANEY: Well, would it better to use it if you have electric heat or if you have propane for heating?
TOM: Now, you have – well what do you have? What’s your fuel?
LANEY: My fuel is propane but I was wondering if I could run an electric line from the main circuit-breaker box.
TOM: No, because an electric tankless water heater does not work very well. It has to be gas-fired, and it can be propane gas or it could be natural gas, but the dynamics and the energy efficiency change when you’re talking about electricity. You need so much power to run it that it’s not nearly as efficient. So if you have an electric water heater and you want to stay with electric, we would tell you then to put in a tanked unit but put in a high-efficiency tanked unit which basically means the insulation is very thick on it. And the second step of that, Laney, is to install that to a timer so it only comes on when the water has to be heated. So you would set the timer to run, say, for example maybe an hour or two before you woke up in the morning and then maybe in the middle of the day it goes off and then comes on for another few hours in the evening. So you only end up heating the water, say, eight or ten hours a day compared …
LESLIE: At the times when you use it most.
TOM: Yeah, compared to 24/7.
LANEY: And for cooking and all. So we’d stay with the propane then.
TOM: I would, yeah, and I would definitely go tankless.
LANEY: Oh, good.
TOM: If you want a place to get more information on tankless water heaters you can go to SmarterHotWater.com. That’s the website for the Rheem company which is one of the leaders in that industry.
LANEY: Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Laney. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.