Tame the water and energy-wasting monster in your home

Tame the water and energy-wasting monster in your home

According to Water.org, the average American uses 176 gallons of water per day, and heating that water is a drain on energy and homeowners’ wallets. Thirty percent of the average home’s energy budget is allocated to heating hot water, according to Occupytheory.org.

The typical North American water heater (hidden in basements, utility closets, etc.) heats water 24 hourvs a day, 7 days a week, whether you’re using it or not. But homeowners, contractors and plumbers are making an eco-friendly change, and fast.

Persistence Market Research recently released a global water heater study showing the dramatically rising popularity (1.2X) of tankless water heaters in North America.

So why are people turning away from tanks in droves? Tankless units are upwards of 50 percent more efficient than traditional tank models, only heating water when it’s needed. In addition, these tankless units last 20 years or more, compared to the typical 6-12 years for conventional models.

In an exclusive interview with Tom Kelly, manager applications, training and technical services, with Bosch Thermotechnology, a manufacturer of tankless water heaters, talked about the benefits of tankless water heaters and how they can help conserve water usage and energy.

PGH: Is the water heater market strong in new construction or replacements?

TK: Retrofits are a big part of our market, and the new construction market to starting to pick back up. Consumers are searching for higher efficiency products and they're being steered toward tankless water heaters based on the new standards.

PGH: How did the increased efficiency requirements of NAECA impact tankless water heaters?

TK: We're dealing with more a level playing field in terms of costs because costs for tanks are going up because of the extra insulation and other improvements required to meet the efficiency requirements.

Tankless water heaters have always been highly efficient, compared to storage tanks because they don't have standby heat loss and don't have a standing pilot light. Tankless didn't have to make changes to meet the requirements.

PGH: In addition to energy efficiency, what are some of the advantages of tankless water heaters?

TK: Space is a big thing. In new construction, space is a commodity that architects designers and builders are trying to utilize more efficiently, and storage tanks above certain volume are being expanded in terms of insulation they need to have on the storage tank to meet the efficiency requirements. So tankless is becoming more thought of initially because its capacity to be installed off the floor, installed on a wall an consumer less space.

With tankless, there's no requirement to install the water heater in the basement or in the attic or somewhere far away from the fixtures. With the advent of tankless, builders and plumbers understand that they can put the, anywhere. They are more appliance-like than a storage tank. Aesthetically they're better, and customers are OK with having them installed in closets or in place where they may come across them day to day, rather than hiding them away in the basement.

PGH: Is there much difference between living with a tank or tankless water heater on a daily basis?

TK:With a modern tankless, you'd be surprised with the experience; there may not be a lot of difference. In the past, someone could experience, a delay of delivering hot water, because when there's no flow in the on-demand system, there's no heat produced, which allows the water to cool off. We started to see lot of recirculation systems that were trying to recirculate the hot water in a loop to offset the amount of wasted water waiting for warm water.

A modern-day tankless can work with domestic hot water recirculation loops and you now see that as a mandatory part of the efficiency code in some states. You can install a hot water recirculation line or retrofit a pump to improve the comfort level for the user.

PGH: What are some of the advantages for a tankless water heater?

TK: They're basically a hot water generator, and if they're sized properly essentially don't run out of hot water, whereas a tank will run out of water. You also have the capability of connecting multiple units together can meet very large demand, such as for a hot tub, in much less space than you would have if you were trying to meet large demand with a storage tank.

Standards aside, the efficiency has always been in favor of the tankless because there's no standby heat loss for storing water.

Read more about energy efficient water heating.


Topics: Building Green, Energy Star, Water Heaters, Water Saving Devices

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