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Consumer Reports on Tankless Water Heaters

December 10, 2011

At least as of a week ago, I was pretty disappointed with Consumer Reports’ content on tankless water heaters.  They had a general comment on the cost/benefit of going tankless — basically that the high cost of the unit and installation make breaking even on utility savings unattractive from a purely economical perspective  — but didn’t really get into why you would consider a tankless unit:  for me, with a family of five the prospect of endless hot water was very compelling; plus I wanted the floor space in my basement.

From what I read elsewhere, if you are an average family of four using a water heater with a tank you will not save a significant amount of energy/money going tankless.  I do like the prospect of saving energy (if only for the sake of saving energy) when we go on vacation or have below-normal usage.  I have to believe that fundamentally heating what you use (and with a much more efficient heating element compared to a standard tank-model) is better than pre-heating a supply of water and keeping it that temperature.  I understand that I am losing some efficiency by using the circulation pump/tank in the Navien, but that should lead to less wasted water (it is warmer at the faucet faster) and frankly based on my Day 0 experience, a normal family couldn’t do without the circulation turned on (i.e., the water in my kitchen never got hot without it).

Back to Consumer Reports — my second grievance was that they clearly had outdated content on their site — they had a section soliciting feedback from tankless owners for an “upcoming” issue scheduled for 2008.  Kind of makes me wish I had my subscription fee back.


From → HVAC

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