Water heaters are not cheap, but they can pay for themselves, in the long run, depending on the type you get. If you are looking into a new one or want to replace an old water heater, consider the new unit’s cost, life span, and efficiency. You have two choices – you can go for a tankless water heater or a standard water heater. Which one should you get though? Let’s do a deep dive into their pros, cons, and efficiencies to find out.

What Is a Standard Water Heater?

Standard or storage tank water heaters can be found in most households. These can range from units that can hold anywhere from 20 to 80 gallons of water at a time. The tank is almost filled to the brim and then heated via gas or electricity. Hot water flows from the top of the tank, and cold water replaces it from the bottom till the tank is full again.

However, this water heater increases standby heat loss by constantly heating water. This is the amount of heat it loses when not in use. The older your standard water heater is the higher the heat loss and energy bill.

What Is a Tankless Water Heater?

A tankless water heater, aka an on-demand water heater, only heats water when needed. Depending on the fuel source, it can heat two to five gallons a minute via gas, propane, or electricity. These are more efficient than standard or tank-based water heaters since there is no standby heat lo.

However, you can run into supply issues when more than one water tap is used at a time. If your tankless water heater is gas-powered, it can waste energy if the pilot light continues to burn for higher flow rates. The good news is that you can solve this issue by investing in an intermittent ignition device.

Tankless Water Heater vs. Standard Water Heater

Now that you understand how these water heaters work, let’s dive into their differences. Here are some ways these two water heaters differ from one another:

Initial Cost

A tankless water heater is more expensive to install than its tank-based counterpart. Expect to pay a few thousand dollars more for the former than the latter. The prices will vary depending on the model you get.

The high price is understandable if you think about the process involved. Your plumber has to work extra hard to retrofit a tankless water heater into a space. All pipes have to be relocated, and if you switch fuel sources, new supply lines have to be installed. A standard water heater doesn’t need to be retrofitted.

Energy Savings and Operational Costs

Even though tankless water heaters cost more than standard ones, they usually pay for themselves in the long run. As mentioned before, these prevent standby heat loss, which can increase your energy bill. A tankless system can save approximately $100 per year on energy costs.

While standard water heaters are also energy-efficient, using gas as a fuel source saves more money. That’s because gas prices are lower than electricity prices. You can increase your savings by insulating the water heater and replacing old components with new ones. Go for units that are Energy Star certified. These use 8% less energy because they are insulated have heat traps and highly efficient burners.


A standard water heater can last anywhere from 10 to 15 years, but the tankless variety can work for 20 to 30 years. Their lifespan depends on the hardness of the water and maintenance.

Tank-based water heaters are prone to damage. It can flood if it is breached. The sheer amount of water it stores can cause lasting damage to your home and belongings. Since tankless varieties don’t store water, they are less prone to damage and last for decades.

Installation Issues

Standard water heaters come with a large tank that can take up a lot of space compared to the tankless variety. The latter is smaller, and since they don’t come with a tank, they can be installed on the wall or in tight spaces, making them ideal for tiny homes or apartments.

Which One Should You Choose?

Both standard and tankless water heaters can meet your expectations depending on your needs and budget. The latter is more expensive than the former, but it can last for decades longer in comparison. If your existing standard water heater has a 12 to 15-year warranty, replacing it with a tankless unit doesn’t make sense. But you should hire professionals to repair and maintain it for you to get your money’s worth.

For instance, if you have hard water, the heat exchanger in your water heater should be flushed periodically. This will remove all of the sediment that can otherwise damage your heater from the inside out. The sediment filter in the heater should also be cleaned periodically.

Contact Allbritten for a Maintenance Visit Today

Whether you need a new water heater installed, or want your existing one repaired, contact Allbritten. We have been helping homeowners with their plumbing issues since 1932, so we have the experience to back up our claims.

Need a water heater replaced in an emergency? No problem! We can send our technicians over whether it is a weekend, a holiday, or the middle of the night without charging you extra. So get in touch with us without worry or waiting. The longer you wait, the worse the problem will get. Take action now by contacting us and setting up a visit.

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