Electric Water Heater Options for a Small Home
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Stuart in Louisiana on the line with a water-heating question. What can we do for you today?
STUART: Yes. I was curious about a point-of-use hot-water heater. I’d like to install an electric one and I only have one bath, one sink and a kitchen sink. And I was wondering if I could – you could recommend a size that I could use that could take care of all three uses.
TOM: So one bath and the kitchen sink and it’s going to be an electric water heater – not gas? You could use a 40-gallon water heater for that, Stuart. That’s a fairly minimal demand. And what I would suggest is that – since you’re installing this, I would add a timer to your electric water heater so that you only run it the few hours that you need it during the day, which we would be in the morning when you get up and get through your showers and then in the evenings again for dishes and that sort of thing and then when you need to take care of your evening bathing. You don’t need to run electric water heater 24/7. You really only need to run it maybe 8, 10 hours out of the day. And the rest of the days, you can leave it off and that saves you a lot of money.
STUART: Right, right. Well, I was interested in one of those little compact units that …
TOM: So you’re talking about a tankless electric?
STUART: Yes, sir.
TOM: Yeah. Haven’t seen a lot of good data on those saving you money. A tankless, gas-fired water heater is extremely efficient. A tankless electric water heater is not so much.
Now, there is one other way to go and that’s called a heat-pump water heater. Uses the same technology that you would have in a heat pump that you might use to cool and heat your house. But it’s used for heating the water. That, however, is very expensive and I think that the return on investment would probably not happen for you.
If I was you and I had this minimal need for one bathroom and a kitchen, I would put in a very inexpensive electric water heater – 40 gallons, with a 240-volt timer – set it to meet my needs from terms on when I want the water warm. It’ll still stay warm during the day, by the way, when it’s not on. It’s just that it won’t be heating to its full 110 to 120 degrees all that time. And stop right there, because I think you’re not going to get the return on investment if you try to put an electric tankless or even a heat-pump electric water heater.
STUART: OK. Well, I thank you for your suggestion.