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Instant Hot Water System: Is it the best choice?

Heating water on demand sounds like a great idea if you live in a busy household where hot water is necessary all the time. Since the invention of tankless hot water systems, many households currently benefit from not having to wait for a water tank to fill with hot water before enjoying a hot shower.

How does it work?

If you are used to a traditional hot water system which consists of a tank, the idea of a tankless system may appear unusual. To understand the working principle better, the parts of a tankless heater includes:

• Power source
• Heating unit
• Heating element

The heating unit is installed close to where the hot water is used. When you turn on the tap for hot water, cold water travelling through the pipes goes into the heating unit. Either gas or electric heating element heats the water before it is released out of the tap or shower. This mechanism ensures that you have hot water anytime you need it. However, a tankless hot water system has less water pressure and may not produce enough hot water for simultaneous use in large homes. One solution to low water pressure is installing multiple instant hot water systems in different sections where needed. For example, you can install a separate tankless heater for appliances such as dishwashers or washing machines.

Can an instantaneous hot water system help you save money?

It is a fact that an instant hot water system costs more than a traditional water heater. However, the savings in energy consumption compensates for the initial investment. An average household spends $400-600 each year on water heating. Having hot water accounts for the second largest utility expense in your home. If your home uses an average of 41 gallons of hot water daily, on-demand hot water increases your homes energy efficiency by 24-34%. For homes consuming more than 41 gallons of hot water daily, an instant hot water system increases energy efficiency by 8-14% more.

Added benefits of an instantaneous hot water system

While energy efficiency appears to be the major benefit of an instant hot water system, there are other advantages of a tankless heater that makes it a perfect choice for many households.

• Compared with traditional heaters, an instantaneous hot water system lasts longer. Average water heaters last around 10-15 years only, but a tankless heater has a life-span than extends up to 20 years with proper use and regular maintenance.
• Eliminating a storage tank also makes instant water heaters ideal for homes with limited space. They also look better and will not dominate the exterior or interior installation area.
• Since instant hot water systems use less energy, it follows that it also produces fewer emissions. This is true when your heater uses natural gas instead of electricity.
• Water that does not come from a storage tank is cleaner and fresher.
• You have water on demand at any time of the day. By installing separate heaters, you can also have hot water available on dishwashers, washing machines, showers, and hot tubs.

By considering these advantages, there is no contesting why an instant hot water system appears to be the best choice for any household. However, before you go off replacing your heater with a new one, consider other factors that will help you select an on-demand water heater.

Instantaneous electric hot water systems

Fuel type can be a limiting factor in selecting an instant hot water system especially if not all fuel choices are available in your area. Fortunately, electricity is widely available as a fuel source anywhere in the United States. It is convenient and commonly used for powering all types of water heaters. Nevertheless, electric fuelled on-demand heaters have low water pressure compared with gas-powered heaters. If you instantaneous electric hot water systems, you may want to think about installing separate water heaters in different areas of your home that demand hot water.

As a general rule, you need to compare the cost of each fuel type before deciding on a choice. Another advantage of electricity is the option to use it as the fuel source for both instantaneous electric hot water systems and space heating systems.

Always remember that the fuel type you choose also affects your consumption and utility bills. Each type of water heater increases efficiency according to the type of fuel used. For example, instantaneous electric hot water systems are more efficient than traditional electric water heaters. Therefore, while in some areas natural gas may be cheaper than electricity, if you choose a heater type that does not efficiently use natural gas, it may not lead to the savings you are hoping for in the long run.

Other factors to consider in selecting an on-demand heater

Aside from the fuel type and availability in your area, you should also consider the following factors before buying an on-demand water heater:

• Size.

Finding the right size begins by calculating the flow rate of all the devices using hot water in your home. The flow-rate in gallons per minute of each device added together pertains to the flow-rate of the instant hot water system you need to install. If you want to reduce the flow rate of the hot water devices in your home, you can install low-flow shower heads as a solution. The next aspect in finding the right-sized heater is determining the desired temperature rise. On the average, a water heater should have a temperature rise of at least 70ºF if you want your hot water ideally heated to 120ºF for multiple uses.

• Energy-efficiency

Each instant hot water system includes an energy factor. The energy factor pertains to the calculated energy-efficiency of a water heater by basing it on the amount of hot water produced for every unit of fuel consumed. Energy-efficiency consists of several parameters. These parameters are recovery efficiency, standby losses, and cycling losses. Recovery efficiency refers to the ability of the system in transferring heat from the fuel source into the water.

On the other hand, standby losses are the percentage of heat lost per hour on the stored water. This parameter is only applicable to water heaters with storage tanks. Lastly, cycling losses refer to the amount of heat loss as water travels through pipes.

It follows that when a water heater has a higher energy factor rating, it is also more energy-efficient. It is important to consider that even if an instant hot water system has high energy factor, it may not always lead to lower annual utility costs as the source of fuel will also factor into the overall amount of operating a water heater.

In conclusion, selecting an instant hot water system does not depend on one factor alone. By taking due diligence in determining how each parameter affects overall cost and energy-efficiency, you can have a more informed decision and a more successful selection process.

Installing and maintaining an on-demand water heater

Installation and maintenance should be given equal importance in ensuring that you maximise the benefits of an instant hot water system. Not only will you ensure that the heater performs well and lasts the expected life-span, but you are also guaranteed optimum energy-efficiency.

Similar to selecting an on-demand water heater, installation and maintenance also depend on several factors. Different fuel types require varying installation procedures as well as maintenance protocols. Look for an installation technician with expertise and experience on your desired fuel-type. Depending on where you live, there are building codes and requirements you must adhere to before installing a new water heater. Look this information up first to prevent any delays and inconvenience.

Furthermore, you should also take into consideration the safety standards and requirements especially if you are installing a gas-fired instant hot water system. To help you navigate and overcome all these intricacies, you need to find the best plumber or contractor in your area. Here are some tips to guide you:

• If you are looking online, you can ask for a quote over the phone. However, it is best if you get the quote or estimate in writing.
• Check recommendations and customer reviews. If possible, a personal reference works best and has more credibility.
• Don’t be afraid to research the background of the contractor by going to the Better Business Bureau website.
• Verify if the contractor has extensive knowledge about local building codes and regulations and knows how to help you acquire them.

Hiring a contractor is still the best choice if you want a hassle-free installation and maintenance. Nevertheless, some homeowners take the chance of installing a hot water system on their own. Before you consider a DIY installation, study the installation manual thoroughly and contact the manufacturer if you have additional questions. Secure permits before the installation and make sure that you are complying with all the rules and regulations before, during, and after the installation process.

For further assistance on installation and maintenance, you can always reach out to experts at Fischer by calling 206-202-9499 or 425-406-3050. They have local knowledge and are available to assist you with concerns related to replacement, maintenance, and repairs.

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