How to overcome homeowners’ tankless concerns
Seeing the big picture.
Maintaining the status quo is often the easiest, most tempting thing to do.
Imagine you are a homeowner whose 50-gallon water heater has just burst. All you and your family care about is getting the hot water running again. You probably won’t be willing to research and consider other options, such as tankless water heaters. You need to shower tonight.
Homeowners may especially be concerned about the cost of tankless or whether they will find the right installer for the job. It’s hard to switch to something new; there always is a degree of perceived risk that needs to be overcome.
That’s where the savvy, informed plumbing and heating contractor comes in, ready to address
customer concerns and help decide if tankless is the right choice. Here are some points about tankless to consider if you are that contractor.
Unlimited hot water
One argument that will resonate with homeowners, especially those with large families, will be that tankless water heaters never run out of hot water, because they heat as much as is needed.
That means no more rushed or lukewarm showers or standing around waiting for the water heater to recover. Large families with children will especially benefit, including the parents who often sacrifice their own hot water comfort for that of their kids.
Since tankless water heaters fire up only when there is hot water demand, there are no standby losses associated with stored water. Of course, the less that a water heater needs to operate, the less energy it will use.
One home in Lake Forest, California, reported a 17.7% savings on its monthly gas bills after installing a tankless water heater, Noritz America states. According to the tankless water heater manufacturer, homeowners who install tankless may see savings as high as 40% for a family of four, obviously depending on what type of fuel they use (savings on expensive propane can be greater than natural gas) and their home’s overall energy usage.
Monthly energy savings add up and, in time, will pay for the tankless unit’s upfront cost. When talking cost, it’s also important to remember state and utility rebate programs that reward homeowners who install energy-efficient appliances, such as tankless water heaters. These programs, combined with ongoing energy savings from day one and a longer lifespan, likely will make a tankless heater valuable over the long-term and that’s only considering hard dollars.
Tankless water heaters are more resistant to scale buildup than other options because there is less water sitting inside the unit. This also contributes to energy savings because the scale doesn’t form as large a barrier between the burner and the water inside the tank, which would result in more energy being expended to meet the setpoint temperature.
Besides this, homeowners need not worry about calcification deposits in their tooth-brushing water and showers. The incoming water from a tankless unit always is fresh and unsoiled by scale. This benefit might be more psychological, but that doesn’t mitigate its impact.
Despite this, contractors still should advise homeowners to flush their tankless water heaters once per year (more or less, depending on the water hardness in the area) as a best practice to prevent internal damage.
Warranty and lifespan
In many instances, well-maintained tankless water heaters can last up to 20 years or more. Regularly flushing the unit, as mentioned above, can help achieve maximum longevity.
This lifespan is important when considering overall value. Other water-heating options with lower upfront costs may need to be replaced twice in the lifetime of a single tankless unit. At that point, it might make more sense to invest in tankless and rest assured of long-term performance.
When things go wrong
Nothing lasts forever. A tankless water heater will eventually fail. Fortunately, it will go quietly into the night without causing a big mess. It will not cause flooding and expensive basement damage because it doesn’t store any water.
Rather, it simply will stop working and likely offer an error code explanation. Although failure isn’t the first consideration that comes to a homeowner’s mind when replacing units, its relevance to the decision cannot be exaggerated.
Two common misconceptions
Beyond the above arguments, it’s important to be totally forthright and eliminate any misconceptions the homeowner might have about tankless water heaters.
One is that tankless technology is new and untested. This could not be further from the truth. For decades, European and Asian countries have used tankless water heaters with great success. It is important to broaden the homeowner’s horizons about this fact.
Many homeowners might also believe tankless water heaters provide hot water instantaneously when a tap or shower is activated. That is not true either. Yes, the water is heated almost instantly, but it still must travel through the pipes to the fixture. There still will be a wait time for hot water unless a recirculation line
Taken in concert, the benefits of a tankless water heater can more than cover the initial cost of the installed product while delivering greater long-term quality and comfort. And the costs are shrinking. New tankless units on the market that simplify direct-replacement jobs through top-mounted water connections, the ability to use existing venting formerly connected to the old water heater, and possible use of a 1/2-inch gas line are sharply reducing installation time and costs.
In the end, it’s important to help the homeowner see the big picture. RJ 2.0
Author bio: Ryan Simmerman is Noritz’s regional sales manager for Southern California.