I learned a little about tankless water heaters today and the lesson is unless you have the need for sudden bursts of unlimited hot water, don't buy one.
These little devices are marketed as a way to save money, and they do save perhaps $80 per year in energy costs. But they cost about $1,200 more than a traditional hot water heater, so it can easily take 20 years to recoup your investment.
And tankless hot water heaters are supposed to be "flushed" once a year to remove scale build-up on the coils. You might put this on a two-year schedule or even a three-year schedule, but it has to be done and will cost at least $150. And water heaters do break down and need to be replaced. It's far cheaper to replace a storage tank than a tankless heater.
The bottom line is that a tankless water heater will cost substantially more than a conventional water heater. If you want to be "green," take the $1,000 or more you will save by using a conventional, gas water heater and use it to put extra insulation in your attic or to provide better seals for your doors and windows. You'll save money instead of throwing it away with a tankless water heater.
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