Tankless Water Heaters – Good Things That Come in Small Packages

Piper Plumbing, Heating, & Draincleaning Inc.Energy Efficiency, Hot Water Heaters0 Comments

Tankless Water Heater

Do we not all dream about hot water pouring out of the shower as soon as we turn on the hot water tap? No more waiting for water in the tank to be heated when you arrive home after a long day! If your answer is yes, it might be time to upgrade your water heating system to a tankless water heater.

How Do Tankless Water Heaters Work?

Tankless water heaters use a heating unit to warm up the water when the hot water tap is turned on. In contrast to the storage heaters, water is not stored in a tank. Instead, the cold water travels through the pipes and is heated by the heating element before it pours out of the faucet.

The heating unit can be powered by natural gas, propane  or electric powered. This way, the tankless water heater supplies an instantaneous and continuous supply of hot water. The heater will shut off when the hot water tap is turned off and there will be no need to maintain hot water in a storage tank.

This means that the tankless water heaters will cause zero to none energy loss due to the demand of heating a tank of stored water. Elimination of such demand translates into significant savings on the annual energy costs of your household in the long term – as much as 30% on your energy bill!

Great Savings Come In Small Packages!

In addition to its ability to provide a constant supply of hot water, tankless water heaters are compact, so compact in fact, they can fit in the cabinet underneath the sink – nice and close to its point of use!  It’s fair to say that they are an excellent choice for the space-conscious and the design-conscious alike.

Types Of Water Heaters


The electric heater heats the water using an electric element and will cost you between 500-700 dollars to purchase – not factoring in the installation cost. The electric heater is up to 98% efficient – almost all the energy the heater uses is converted into heat! The electric-type heater is small, which makes it desirable for fitting to individual appliances as well fitting for the whole house. Last but not least, electric heaters require little maintenance throughout their lifetime adding up to their cost effectiveness.


The gas types heater uses a gas burner to heat the water. They are costlier than electric-types to purchase, at about 1000 dollars and even more for the sophisticated electronic ignition systems. It is around 85% efficient in converting its fuel into heat.

The installation cost for gas type heaters is much higher than the electric ones owing to their ventilation and combustion air supply requirements. The required upgrade to the existing gas lines and venting ducts may boost the installation cost of gas-type heaters.

How To Choose?

Your choice of heater will depend on several factors – availability of adequate electrical or natural gas supply, the overall purchase and installation cost, cost of operating the respective heater in your region (electricity vs. gas prices), space availability and preference to name a few.

Sizing Your Heater

Hot water is used by a host of appliances in the house, such as showers, sinks, dishwashers etc. Whereas the tankless water heaters can supply hot water for your long-awaited hot shower at the end of the day, the greasy dishes in the sink that need soaking might not benefit from the hot water at the same time if your heater is not sized properly.

The tankless water heaters are designed to provide a certain amount of gallons of hot water per minute (GPM) and this is influenced by the flow rate and incoming water temperature. Flow rate of an appliance is the amount of water in gallons used in one minute. The incoming water temperature is the degree of water supplied to the pipeline.

Firstly, you will need to decide which fixtures and appliances you will need hot water from: it is possible for tankless water heaters to power just one appliance or your whole house. To determine how much hot water you will need, you’ll need to add up the flow rates of all the appliances you want the water heater to power – imagine you have turned on all the appliances that uses hot water and jumped into a hot shower! For a guideline of flow rates of common household appliances, see the table below.

Fixture/Appliance Typical Flow Rate
Bathroom faucet 0.5-1.5 GPM
Kitchen faucet 3.0-7.0 GPM
Shower 1.0-2.0 GPM
Dishwasher 1.0-2.5 GPM
Clothes washer 1.5-3.0 GPM

Secondly, you will want to know how much your incoming water will need to be heated. The incoming water temperature for Edmonton is between 9 degrees and 12 degrees Celsius, and the ideal temperature for a relaxing, hot shower is approximately 40 degrees Celsius. This means you would want your heater to heat up the pipe water by approximately 30 degrees.

The tankless water heater you will need installed in your home will reflect the total flow rate in GPM and the ability of the heater to produce the temperature rise you need at that flow rate.

Installation Cost

The issue that is most likely to make any potential buyer think twice about tankless water heaters is the installation cost. Compared to its tank storage relatives, tankless water heaters are costlier to install. Additional costs may be incurred due to maintenance requirements of the heater. In areas with hard water, limescale build up can influence the flow rate of hot water from the heater leading to frequent calls to your maintenance team.

However, keep in mind that water heating is one of the largest housing expenses that Canadians face, eating up 30% of the average household energy budget and compared to its tank-storage counterpart, a tankless water heater can help you save 30% on your energy bill at the end of the month. Additionally, whereas the storage type heaters have a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years, tankless water heaters are efficient up to and even longer than 20 years. This means that your heater will compensate for your initial investment handsomely in the long run!

All in all, whether you are installing a new water heater or changing your old one, tankless water heaters can bring your home the comfort and luxury you dream of for prices that won’t punch a hole in your budget!

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