Need a new water heater? If you want to potentially save hundreds (even thousands) of dollars in the long haul, read on to discover the best water heater option for your home.

As an owner of a home inspection franchise based in Dayton for over 15 years, my team and I have seen every type of water heater in Ohio that you can imagine! There are several options, and we can help you make a smart choice for your home. Before we dive in to details on how to make your selection, here’s a quick background on the five different types of water heaters:

  • Conventional water heaters provide a storage tank of heated, ready-to-go water
  • Tankless water heaters heat water on demand without a storage tank
  • Heat pump water heaters transfer heat from the air or your heating system to a water tank
  • Solar water heaters heat water using energy from the sun
  • Tankless coil and indirect or condensing water heaters use the heating coils or hot exhaust gases from a traditional gas furnace or boiler to heat water without a tank

While there are multiple options, not every type of water heater is suitable for every home.

For example, if you don’t have a gas heating system, a tankless coil heater just won’t work. And unless you’re willing to install solar panels, a solar water heater isn’t the best choice, either...

In the end, you really have two choices: tank or no tank.

Tankless water heater basics

Most U.S. homeowners are familiar with a conventional water heater that stores a large amount of heated water, ready for use at any moment. However, for decades, tankless water heaters have been the norm in other regions of the world—like Japan and Europe—due to their high energy-efficiency and space-saving qualities. Some specific pros of tankless water heaters include:

  1. Tankless water heaters save energy. According to the Department of Energy, for homes that use less than 41 gallons of hot water per day, tankless water heaters can be 24-34% more efficient than conventional storage tank options. Tankless heaters provide more efficiency for households that use a large amount of hot water, too.
  2. Energy efficiency can save you money—approximately $100 per year for the typical family. It also saves natural resources, a win-win for you AND the environment.
  3. Tankless water heaters save space. Just imagine the space requirements for a 20 to 80 gallon tank of water—versus a small water heater that can be installed near the water sources you need heated.
  4. Tankless water heaters last longer than conventional water heaters—about 15 years, on average, compared to 8-12 for a conventional heater.

Wondering about the cons?

  1. Tankless water heaters can be a more expensive investment initially, although they can provide cost savings over time with their energy efficiency and durability.
  2. Tankless water heaters may not be able to provide enough hot water to supply two uses at the same time. For example, running the shower and the dishwasher at the same time could result in lukewarm water all around. This can be offset by installing multiple tankless heaters for simultaneous use or specific heaters for appliances that regularly use hot water.
  3. Tankless water heaters may not be appropriate if you don’t have natural gas or propane service. If your energy supply is mainly electric or solar power, you may want to stick to a more traditional water heater and carefully discuss your options with a licensed plumber.

To tank or not to tank

A caution—whatever you choose, make sure you hire a reputable contractor with the appropriate licenses, who has a track record installing tankless water heaters. 

Still not sure whether a tankless water heater is the right choice for you? Ask a home inspector! Our team of experienced HouseMaster home inspectors are knowledgeable about all types of water heaters and can also evaluate the appropriate options for your household.

We’d love to exceed your home inspection expectations. Schedule a home inspection with us here (takes less than a minute to schedule!) and we’ll be in touch.