LESLIE: John in North Carolina has a water-heating question. What can we do for you?
Tankless Water Heaters for Multiple Bathrooms
JOHN: Yes. I have some apartments that are used in an overflow situation for my family when they come visit us.
TOM: You’ve got a big family, huh, John? (Leslie chuckles)
JOHN: A huge family. (Tom chuckles) I’ve got 21 grandchildren and 9 children.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Wow!
JOHN: But anyhow, the – each one of these apartments has their own bathroom with a small hot water heater; about a 10 or 20-gallon hot water heater.
JOHN: And it’s not used that often and therefore the water stays in the hot water heater and begins to smell. And I was thinking about taking those hot water heaters out of there and replacing them with on-demand heaters and wonder if the on-demand can serve two such bathrooms at a time.
TOM: Oh, absolutely. I mean, you’re talking about a tankless water heater, correct?
JOHN: Yes. Tankless.
TOM: Well, a tankless water heater, you know, can serve five, six, seven, eight bathrooms; it depends on what it’s sized for. But that’s an excellent solution, especially when you have the issue of not only stale water but – these are electric water heaters?
JOHN: Yes. They’re electric water heaters.
TOM: Right. Well, first of all, if they’re electric water heaters, then – do you have them on all the time or do you have the power to …
JOHN: I think we do. I guess we do leave them on all the time when the kids are not here.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, that’s costing you a lot of money to heat up all that water that’s never being used, as well.
TOM: Now, the only problem here is that there’s no really good-quality, electric, tankless water heater. You’re going to have to put one in that’s gas-powered – natural gas or propane-powered – because you can’t get the efficiency out of an electric tankless.
JOHN: Oh, I see.
TOM: But that being said, you could put in a high-efficiency, electric, tank water heater and have it do the same thing, which is to serve multiple apartments. And I would also recommend that you put that on a timer so it only comes on when you need it. I mean, even when you have family visiting, you only need to really heat that water 8 to 10 hours a day; you don’t need it on 24/7. And I would also set it up on a master switch so that if no one is going to be in those apartments you simply turn that water heater off because you could have hot water in an hour after turning it on. There’s absolutely no reason to keep it on all that time, John, if you’re not going to be using it because you’re just going to be paying to heat the water and it’s going to cool; it has to be reheated over and over again. It’s a big waste of money.
JOHN: Alright. Well, fine. That sounds great to me and I appreciate the advice.
TOM: You’re welcome, John. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.