Until a decade ago, water heaters had not changed much from their original and very simple design:  tank, heating element, inflow and outflow valves.  Old style heaters took up a closet's worth of space, often made a costly mess when they finally died, and were a model for energy inefficiency.  Minor improvements were made over time, but then everything changed:  a new kind of water heater showed up.

Instead of warehousing 50 - 60 gallons of water and using energy to keep it hot and ready for use 24/7, these new heaters used powerful heating elements to heat water on demand.  When there was no demand, the units went into hibernation.  The moment any hot faucet was engaged, the machines whirred into action producing nearly instant hot water.

This all made great sense and the fact that the new units occupied a fraction of the space made them a logical choice for many consumers.

While the tankless option may work for some, it is certainly not for everyone, and some careful cost and benefit analysis may reveal that the old style tanked water heaters are a better choice for you.

First, consider cost.  an old -style tank system will cost $400  - $600 plus installation.  A tankless system will more than double that expense. Plus, installation is often more costly as plumbing around the unit must often be upgraded.

It is true that tankless systems are more energy efficient, saving users an average of $70 - $80 a year in fuel costs over a mid-line conventional unit.  But there are hi-efficiency tanked systems that will do the same.

Consumer Reports suggests that it could take up to 22 years to recoup the additional cost of installing a tankless system - which is a little daunting considering that most tankless water heating systems have a 15 year lifespan.

With this in mind, if you elect to keep your old water heater a bit longer, at least do the easy maintenance required to keep it running efficiently.  A simple step-by-step guide from Lowes is located HERE.

Still, we are living in an age of constant improvement, where technology makes common items more efficient and less costly by the day.  The tankless system will continue to improve and become more cost effective.  Clearly, it is the future . . . but its future may be a little further down the line.

GreatNest is a full service real estate company charging a low set fee instead of a percentage commission.  We serve buyers and sellers in Greensboro, High Point, Winston-Salem , Summerfield, Oak Ridge, Jamestown and surrounding areas.  You can reach us at (336) 790-5210 or by emailing Steve Vincent.  Visit our website: greatnest.com.