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Hot Water: How to Make Sure Don’t Run Out

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Larry in Ohio is on the line with a heating question. How can we help you?

    LARRY: Yes. I’ve got a house – it’s 6,000 square foot – and they divided the utilities up into two separate houses. And right now, I have a hot-water tank that we use all the time and we have a hot-water tank, that sits on the side that the kitchen is on, that is only used for the dishwasher.

    And I’m wondering, would I be better off to get me a tankless hot-water tank or just deal with the electric? I’ve got an electric, 50-gallon one. I don’t know which one would be more cost-efficient.

    TOM: So, the only thing that you’re using that water heater for, on that side of the house, is the dishwasher? And that’s a 50-gallon water heater?

    LARRY: Yes.

    TOM: Wow.

    LARRY: But like I say, this house was actually set up to be a bed and breakfast.

    TOM: If the only thing that water heater is serving is the dishwasher and there’s no way to get that dishwasher fed off of the other water heater, you just need a very small water heater for that dishwasher and I mean like a 20-gallon electric or something like that. Really small. Because there’s really not much water that it needs to heat and it would be foolish to have it heating, you know, 50 gallons, 40 gallons of water 24-7 when you really don’t need it except to wash dishes and, I presume, to run the kitchen sink.

    So a very small electric water heater, perhaps even on a timer so that it only kicks on maybe in the evening hours when you’re using that dishwasher, would be the smart thing to do there and the least expensive way to both install the new water heater and to run the new water heater. OK?

    LARRY: OK. Actually, there’s two bathrooms that are also hooked to this but it’s just the idea right now – we’re not using it. We’ve got two bathrooms on the other side of the house, too.

    TOM: OK. Well, that’s different. That’s different. If you have two bathrooms – full bathrooms?

    LARRY: Yes. Full bathrooms.

    TOM: Well, then, OK, so that’s different. If there’s a full – two full bathrooms – I’d asked you if it was just the dishwasher and you said, “Yes.” But if it’s two full bathrooms on it, then you do need a larger water heater. And again, I would probably recommend – if you’re not using it that often, I’d probably recommend an electric water heater, in that situation, on a timer.

    LARRY: OK.

    TOM: But you’ll probably need more like a 40-gallon.

    LARRY: Actually, on the tankless ones, I’ve noticed the different amount of water per minute.

    TOM: Yeah, well – but you – do you have gas? Do you have natural gas?

    LARRY: I’ve got propane.

    TOM: You have propane? Well, you could use a tankless water heater. The installation cost will be a lot higher. It does deliver you 24-7 endless supplies of hot water. Except in that side of the house, again, you’re not really using those bathrooms that much, so that’s not as big of a concern to you.

    That’s why I’m suggesting a minimum, inexpensive electric water heater for that. At least you’ll maintain your home value. Because if you didn’t have adequate – an adequate water heater to supply those two bathrooms plus the dishwasher, your home value would suffer. But I wouldn’t necessarily recommend you put in a $1,500 tankless, because I just don’t think it’s going to be cost effective for you.

    LARRY: OK. That was my big question right there: would it be cost-effective (ph)?

    TOM: Alright, Larry. Hope that helps. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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