Tankless Water Heaters: Worth the Extra Work?

Hello to Trent, one of the bloggers trying out for a spot on the Re-Nest editorial team. Comments are welcome...

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My girlfriend and I recently purchased our first house, built in 1950 and not updated since. The night we closed on our new home, we ordered up some pizza, popped open a bottle of champagne, and set to work on demoing the kitchen. The first thing to go? The water heater.The goal for our renovation was to make our house more functional, more energy efficient and more pleasing to the eye. Our new tankless water heater does all three.

Measuring in at about 15" x 15", our handsome Stiebel Eltron tankless water heater tucks nicely in the corner of our kitchen. It heats only the water we need and will heat shower after shower of water, eliminating the wait between showers when you have house guests. Our unit is sized to only accommodate one shower at a time, but more powerful units are available. Our dishwasher has a built-in water heater and we wash our clothes with cold water so this unit was just perfect.

We ordered a Stiebel Eltron Tempra 24 from PlumbersSurplus.com based on a nearly 100% efficiency rating (whereas gas fueled tanks are closer to .65) and “ease of installation”. To accommodate the unit, we needed to have two additional 220v lines of electricity run into our kitchen (a task not for the faint of heart). Because 6 gauge wire, required for the install, costs upwards of $3/foot, we decided to place the water heater behind the electrical breaker box, inside our kitchen. Because of the new location, new plumbing was also required.

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Before starting on any of the electrical or plumbing, we submitted a plan to the local home inspectors for our permit. Intimidated by the inspectors whom I thought would be the police of the building world, I spent 4 nights reading code books and ensuring my electrical symbols were correct. Surprisingly, the inspectors were incredibly nice & helpful, approving our permit, no problem.

Having never sweat a pipe, we practiced a few times before packing the tool bag and heading under the house. To reduce the number of connections, I also ordered up these Isolation Valves which were a huge time saver.

Three weeks of showering a the gym later, and hours spent running copper pipe and wire under the house, we flipped the breakers and the water heater lit up! We turned on the bathroom sink, and 20 seconds later out came piping hot water.

We could not have been more excited. The adjustable temperature setting is easy and precise. My biggest concern was our electricity bill. But after doing some math, which was confirmed by our electricity bill, it's only costing about $.25 cents per 10 minute shower. Not bad when you consider the unit doesn't
expend energy maintaining water during the day.

Anyone else enjoying the benefits of a tankless water heater?

-Trent

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