LESLIE: Bob in Utah finds The Money Pit on KTKK and you’ve got a question about electric water heaters. What can we do for you?
BOB: Yes. I have an all-electric home with a 40-gallon electric water heater and it needs to be replaced. I’d heard on the program that … he’d mentioned about putting a timer on. I’m thinking of that. But I also would like to know about these on-demand water heaters and where you can purchase the most energy-efficient water heater.
TOM: Well, the bad news is that you have an all-electric home (laughing). The good news is that it’s time to replace that water heater; you have some options. What you’re referring to is a tankless heater. And the difference between a tankless heater and a water heater that has a tank is, basically, that with a tankless water heater it’s not storing any hot water so, therefore, you’re not paying to keep that water warm all the time that you don’t need it. It heats water as you need it. So, basically, as you turn on …
LESLIE: And it heats it quite quickly.
TOM: Oh, instantly, yeah. As you turn on the hot water faucet, the water heater instantly comes on, heats the water and then delivers it to the spigot. Now …
BOB: Can I ask one question, right there?
BOB: Will that be a … I have a 40-gallon electric water heater now. Will that do a bathtub; that tankless one?
TOM: Oh, absolutely. It’ll do one bathroom, two bathrooms, five bathrooms. You …
LESLIE: Well, the tankless ones are also available in size depending on what your need is, correct?
TOM: Exactly. Yeah, you simply buy it based on the size of your house. Now, if you want to go with a conventional water heater, you can put a timer on it, as you were talking about earlier. And, basically, the way you do that is it’s a 240-volt timer – much like a clock setback thermostat that you would use for your heating system. What this does you simply set it to come on an hour before you get up in the morning to heat the water for the morning showers and the cooking and such and then, go off during the day when you’re off to work and then, come on again for a few hours at night for all the meals and the cleanup that’s associated with that and the bathing and then, go out again.
So, basically, you’d be running that water heater maybe eight to 12 hours a day instead of 24 hours a day. It’s going to be less expensive for you to put in the electric water heater than the tankless water heater; but then again, by the time you add on the cost of the timer and the electrician, it could end up costing about the same amount of money. If I had a choice and I was in your shoes – where the electric water heater was worn out – I would definitely put in a tankless unit.
BOB: Okay. Where do I go find the most energy-efficient water heaters?
TOM: Well, there are a lot of great manufacturers out there. There is a website by the folks at Rinnai, called foreverhotwater.com; they’ve got a lot of good information on there. Why don’t you start there and see how you make out?
BOB: Dot com. Well, you’ve been … you’ve been a big help.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.