As plumbing contractors, we know about the many benefits of upgrading to a tankless water heater.  From their energy efficiency to their longer life expectancy and their ability to rapidly heat water on demand, it’s understandable that we’d want to offer tankless systems to every homeowner we meet.

Our customers, however, may not be quite as up to speed on the many benefits, and whether a tankless water heater may be the right fit for them.  Read on to learn more about how to explain both the advantages and disadvantages of tankless systems to your customers, and how to help them make an informed decision.


Advantage No. 1: Energy efficiency 

The bottom line for most customers is cost, and tankless water heaters can cut monthly bills significantly due to their energy efficiency. Once you know how many people live in the home and can determine how much water they use on a typical day, you can easily educate them on the likely energy efficiency of a tankless water heater in their home. 

These heaters are about 24% to 34% more energy efficient in homes with smaller families, or those using less than 41 gallons of water daily, but even homes where more water is used can see significant energy savings. What does this mean for the customer? According to Energy Star, families can save hundreds of dollars a year when switching to a tankless water heater, which can be a huge advantage to budget-conscious homeowners.  


Advantage No. 2: Extended life

For customers that need to replace their current storage water heater, it may be beneficial for them to learn about the extended life of the latest tankless heaters on the market. While traditional storage heaters can last about a decade, their tankless counterparts have, on average, double the life expectancy. Some customers, especially those who plan to move in the next few years, may not value the importance of a longer lasting heater, but for homeowners looking to stay put for the long term, this could be the deciding factor. 


Advantage No. 3: Less wait time for hot water

The point of a water heater is to effectively heat water, and your customers will likely wonder if a tankless unit will get the job done. The great news is customers won’t have to sacrifice functionality for energy efficiency and space. Unlike storage water heaters that heat the water a tank at a time, tankless models heat water quickly, as needed. Customers complaining about cold showers won’t have that problem with a tankless water heater, which can heat a continual stream of water for as long as it’s needed.  


Advantage No. 4: Space saving

The space saving aspects of a tankless water heater could be an appealing selling point to some homeowners. If their current storage water heater, which averages around 60 inches by 24 inches, resides in its own closet, for instance, customers might be happy to learn that tankless options are often not much bigger than some shoe boxes. This means, instead of storing hot water until the next shower, they can store more clothing, towels or even household items. This feature would also be important to point out to homeowners looking to remodel because they wouldn’t have to design around a bulky appliance in their space.


Advantage No. 5: More safety

Safety is a primary concern for families, especially those with young children.  If your customers are concerned about the safety of a tankless water heater, you can put their minds at ease. 

Traditional storage water heaters can overheat, and in rare instances, explode. Because tankless models hold very little water, the threat of overheating or explosion is much lower. In addition, if your customer has recently had a water heater leak, they know the damage a storage heater can cause. They would benefit from learning that, due to the amount of water stored in a tankless heater, leaking is a lot less likely, and, if a leak does occur, it would cause significantly less water damage.  


Electric vs. gas 

For homeowners with no natural gas line, an electric tankless heater may seem like the right fit, with the same on-demand hot water and space saving benefits. However, it’s important to discuss the downside of an electric tankless heater with your customers before they ultimately decide. They should know that efficiency goes down and electric bills could rise with an electric tankless model. In some cases, it may be beneficial for a family without a gas line to purchase a traditional storage water heater instead.


Disadvantages to tankless water heaters

As you know, a plumbing contractor’s success in a community is largely based on the trust they establish with the residents of that community. It can be tempting to focus only on the benefits of switching to a tankless water heater, but it’s our duty to help our customers make the most informed decision possible. Learning about the water needs of your homeowners will help you to better convey the advantages, as well as the disadvantages, of tankless heaters as a part of the decision-making process.  

  • Higher initial costs: The purchase of a new water heater can often be a monumental cost for customers, and one they likely weren’t planning for either. That’s why many homeowners can suffer from some sticker shock at the cost differences between storage and tankless units. However, it’s important to let the customer know that while the initial costs are much higher, the overall savings with a tankless water heater can make up the difference. The cost to purchase and install a tankless water heater can be double, sometimes triple that of a traditional storage heater, but they will last much longer, and will save on monthly energy bills as well.  
  • Trouble keeping up with multiple demands: In large households with multiple simultaneous water demands, a single tankless water heater may not be the most effective option. For instance, a shower, dishwasher and washing machine running at the same time might push a standard tankless water heater to its limit. To maintain continual hot water, along with the energy efficiency and space saving benefits of tankless heaters, a larger family may consider installing more than one tankless heater to manage the load.  


Communicating the advantages to your customers

Whether your customer ultimately decides on a storage water heater or a tankless option, it will likely be a big purchase for the family. Tankless water heaters offer energy efficiency and longer life expectancy, while taking up much less space, but they may not be the right choice for every family.  

As an integral part of our communities, we, as plumbing contractors, must help educate our customers about the advantages and disadvantages of tankless heaters, and how they will likely function in each unique household, ultimately guiding them toward the best purchase for their families.