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The energy saving potential of tankless water heaters has led many consumers to consider replacing their storage tank water heaters with tankless models. Tankless water heaters only heat water when it is needed. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates a tankless heater can reduce water heating costs by up to 30 percent.

The small size of the tankless heaters is also attractive where there is limited space. And, although there may be some maintenance costs, tankless heaters should last longer than storage tank water heaters.

However, the initial cost of a tankless water heater is significantly higher than the price of a new storage water heater. Forty to fifty gallon standard storage water heaters cost from $300 to $650 at a major home store. The same store sells a 7.4 gallon per minute tankless water heater for $1,200.

The cost of installing a tankless water heater is also significantly higher. Local plumbers, home stores and handymen have competitive pricing on the installation of storage water heaters. It is a quick job for an experienced installer. A tankless heater may require costly electrical work and new gas piping. The more complex installation process can be time consuming and may require specialized workers.

In a 2008 article, “Consumer Reports” estimated that it would take 22 years of energy savings to recoup the higher cost of a tankless water heater. Energy rebate programs and tax credits may be available to reduce the net cost of a tankless heater or a highly efficient storage tank heater. Check programs sponsored by government agencies and utility companies before deciding on a purchase since discounts, rebates and other incentives can help a tankless water heater pay for itself in significantly less time. Rising energy costs may also make a tankless heater a more attractive financial proposition.

Of course, cost savings are not the only reason to purchase a tankless water heater. Some consumers are focused on reducing their energy use. Recovering the cost of switching to a tankless heater is less important to them. If your priority is reducing your carbon footprint, a tankless water heater can help accomplish that objective.

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Q: Is a Tankless Water Heater the Best Choice?
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