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Tankless water heaters v. Storage tank water heaters

Tankless water heaters v. Storage tank water heaters

In the United States, most homes have storage tank water heaters. The tank typically stores between 30 and 50 gallons, but you can find larger or smaller tanks, depending on your application. Storage tank water heaters are responsible for about 17% of a home’s annual energy usage. In terms of energy consumption, it’s one of the major players in your home.

For years, statistics showed that heating comprised the majority –more than half – of a home’s annual energy usage. With the move toward high efficiency, heating now consumes about 40% of a home’s annual energy consumption. Appliances, water heaters and air conditioning combined have become the major consumers.

Targeting older appliances and fixtures will help reduce your energy costs, and the water heater is a pretty juicy target. But should you go for a tankless water heater? Can you still save money with a tank?

The pros and cons of tankless water heaters

A tankless water heater provides instant hot water, if you can be a little flexible about your definition of “instant.” Instead of storing pre-heated water for use “on-demand,” a tankless water heater creates hot water only when you need it. Some “tankless” water heaters have a tiny tank that holds a small amount of pre-heated water to minimize the “cold water sandwich.” Many tankless water heaters, however, just heat water when you open a hot water tap. The cold water that remains in the pipe is flushed out and soon enough, you’re getting “endless” hot water.

The rating for a tankless water heater shows the number of gallons per minute the water heater can provide. Higher capacity tankless heaters can supply 9 or more gallons per minute of hot water. That’s clearly enough for a shower – which might only take 2.5 gallons per minute of hot-and-cold water mixed. If your shower routinely competes with a dishwasher, a washing machine or another bathroom, the higher capacity water heater may be needed.

The bottom line on tankless water heaters

If you use less than 40 gallons of hot water per day, you can save money with a tankless water heater, but there are some conditions involved! Tankless water heaters are more expensive to buy than a conventional storage tank water heater is – by about a factor of two. You’ll pay twice as much for a tankless water heater, and the installation costs will be higher. Tankless water heaters require a larger gas (or electric) service, so you may need to do some retrofitting of your existing gas or electricity service to supply a tankless water heater.

The good news is that a tankless water heater will last about two to two-and-a-half times as long as a storage tank water heater. Since they’re wall-mounted, you’ll recover the space that your storage tank water heater currently takes up. Another potential positive – they can be mounted on the outside wall of the home.

In terms of operating costs, a tankless water heater can save you between one-quarter and one-third of what you’d spend on keeping stored water hot. Your savings would depend on how much hot water you use in a day. The more hot water you use daily, the less you’ll save. If your household consumes a lot of hot water every day -60 to 80 gallons – you would reduce your savings to 10%-15%.

The pros and cons of storage tank water heaters

Storage tank water heaters aren’t particularly efficient. The tank loses heat in a number of ways. Combustion losses can reduce your tank’s efficiency by 15% or more. Standby losses – heat escaping through the tank walls – reduces efficiency by 30% or more. Transmission losses – heat escaping through the pipes –may reduce your efficiency by another 10%. By the time your hot water exits a tap, you might get only 40%-50% of what you paid for.

Residential storage tank water heaters have a rated life of between 6 and 12 years. You’ll replace your storage tank water heater twice during the lifetime of a tankless water heater. That gives the tankless heater a cost advantage over a storage tank water heater.

Another negative for storage tank water heaters is that they don’t “fail pretty.” Mineral deposits inside the tank can cause uneven heating, overheating, smelly water and noisy operation. A failing hot water tank can discharge rusty water or leak. Any of these signs indicates an impending tank failure. Don’t ignore them!

On the positive side, a storage tank water heater is the cheapest way to provide a source of heated water in terms of immediate, out-of-pocket costs. 40-gallon storage tank water heaters are widely available, relatively inexpensive and can be installed in a day with limited need to modify an existing gas or electrical service. Your operating costs will be higher and your tank may have a shortened life cycle, but if you need hot water today – a storage tank water heater is still a respectable option.

If you’d like more information about tankless water heaters, storage tank water heaters or other water heating options, please give us a call at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911 and we can help you choose the best option for your home.

Photo Credit: Alan Levine, via Flickr.com

Toilet: a luxury or an indispensible?

How much would you pay for a toilet? If you think about toilets for more than about six seconds, you’ll quickly come to the conclusion that, while a toilet is an indispensible fixture in an American home – in fact, you can’t get a Certificate of Occupancy without one – it’s usually the opposite of a “luxury item.” Aside from maybe the sewer connection, the lowly toilet clearly has the worst job in the house.

And yet … there are those folks who will gladly pay as much as $10,000 for a toilet. Not just any toilet, mind you, but a Toto washlet – arguably the Rolls Royce of toilets. What makes the Toto washlet so attractive? Well… it changes the whole experience of using the toilet.

No one questions the ingenuity of Japanese engineering, so it’s so surprise that a Toto washlet comes to us from the Land of the Rising Sun. A washlet is far more than your all-access pass to the sewer. It’s certainly much more than an aesthetic marvel, although it does look beautiful.

If you’ve ever paid attention during the Olympics, you know that every culture has its own take on going to the bathroom. In some cases, it’s a minor shift from what you might be accustomed to. In other cases, the differences are mind blowing. Now, Toto makes a lot of conventional toilets, but the washlet is anything but conventional. From a functional perspective, the Toto washlet is where East meets West.

If you’ve ever visited Europe, you’ve seen a bidet. We don’t do bidets in the US. The people who do use them swear by them, but for the most part, you won’t find a bidet here. Then there’s the washlet. The washlet combines a toilet with a bidet, and adds some serious luxury to the package. Heated toilet seats with adjustable temperature controls. Seats that self-raise and lower. UV light to kill germs. Remote controls. Front and rear wash with adjustable direction and power. Air drying. Automatic deodorizing. 2-person memory settings. A night light. Touchpad operation. Patented glazing to resist soiling, and tinted to match the unit for a decorative touch.

You really don’t need toilet paper.

The mind boggles.

The washlet can actually be purchased separately as a kit upgrade for a standard toilet from any maker, but some washlet kits are designed exclusively for use with Toto toilets. The upgrade kits vary in price, depending upon the fixture features and size. You can also buy a “basic” Toto fixture and washlet upgrade for about $2,500 give or take a bit, again depending upon the model and features you choose.

It’s an understatement to say that the experience of a Toto toilet renders other toilets pedestrian. In fact, many Toto aficionados say that standard toilets are just plain crude.

Toto has gone to great lengths to turn America on to its toilets, but it’s been an uphill battle so far. For many Americans, conversion starts with a trip to Japan or another Asian country, where Toto toilets are standard. Toto will be opening an educational gallery in Manhattan this spring, in the hope that more Americans will see the wisdom in changing their bathroom habits.

If you would like more information about Toto toilets, please contact us at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911.

Photo Credit: Toto

Angie's List Recognizes Boston Standard Company again!

We’re pleased to announce that Boston Standard Company has been recognized by Angie’s List with a Super Service Award for the 6th consecutive year! Angie’s List is a members-only organization where subscribers rate and review a wide range of service providers. The top 5% of service providers on the list each year are given a Super Service designation.

As always, we want to thank all of our customers, and especially those who took the time to review us. Your feedback helps your neighbors and friends learn about the good work we’re doing at Boston Standard Company. We wouldn’t receive recognition like this without you. We also want to recognize all of our dedicated employees, who make Boston Standard Company stand out from the crowd every single day.

What makes Boston Standard Company so different? We always put the customer first. As much as we would like it, we know that our customers aren’t calling to invite us over for a cup of tea. They’re usually up to their elbows in something unpleasant when our phone rings! We spring into action immediately – whether you’re having a meltdown in July, or you’re playing hockey in your basement – we’re always ready to help.

We can service most makes and models of heating and cooling equipment, and we’re ready to tackle any plumbing problem you can throw at us. We’re also a great resource when you’re planning your next upgrade, or you want to modernize the equipment in your home.

Call us for a consultation on a replacement boiler, furnace, air conditioner or heat pump. Need a new water heater? We can help with that, too! We can also show you how to save money year-round on your plumbing, heating and cooling by choosing the most efficient models.

We know that replacing a major system in your home is a big decision, often with a big price tag. You want to make sure you get the right equipment for your home and your budget. We’ll help you take advantage of rebates, tax breaks and incentives on your purchases, and we can also help with financing, too!

If you’d like to see Boston Standard Company in action, give us a call at (617) 288-2911. We offer true 24-hour emergency service for those truly memorable moments, and scheduled service for repairs, upgrades and consultations.

Thanks again for all of your great feedback and Happy 2016 from Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating.