Instant hot water heaters originated in Europe after World War II. They are also used in Asia where the ground water is warmer compared to other parts of the world. Although tankless heaters were introduced in the USA before Canada, the tankless design was not accepted at first. However, in recent years, instant hot water heaters have been gaining market acceptance and market share in the US mainly because of their energy efficiency and sponsorship of the federal government.
Virtually all developed countries use tankless hot water heaters. In the Western European Union various names are used: a geyser, the hot water boiler, electric water urn and electric dispensing pot. In Australia and New Zealand a similar tankless heater is termed a chip heater. Tankless water heaters are also found in India, Singapore and numerous other Southeast Asian countries.
Electric instant hot water heaters are replacing conventional water heaters in the US because of several reasons.
First, there is no standby heat loss or the heat and energy wasted when heating water and then storing it inside a tank. Most on-demand water heater manufacturers and consumers see this as a definite way of conserving energy. This is also the reason why the federal government is providing incentives and tax credits to consumers who are installing tankless water heaters.
Secondly, tankless water heaters provide instant and continuous hot water unlike traditional water heaters where the water cools down after a while and needs to be reheated. Aside from the standby heat loss, there is significant delay on the next batch of properly heated water when the hot water inside the tank is exhausted. Recover times for 40 gallon tanks range around 1 – 1.25 hours.
Third, the compactness. Electric instant hot water heaters come in a compact design without needing an exterior vent, allowing a more convenient installation and providing a smaller footprint inside the bathroom, kitchen or garage. Depending on the type of instant hot water heater used, it can be installed inside a closet or even under the sink. However, installation must be considered thoroughly to prevent heat loss of the water running through lengthy pipes.
Incentives and rebates.
The prevalence of instant hot water heaters in various parts of the world is due in part to the support by federal governments. The attractiveness to consumers is the energy savings. Some foreign countries have only cold water piping throughout the house with all hot water being provided by tankless point-of-use (POU) heaters located strategically where needed.
In Canada, the government is offering at least $300 Canadian of rebates for homeowners with gas heat exchangers. There are also grants offered by different cities and provinces for residential users who will replace their existing tank-type water heaters.
The US federal government is offering a federal tax credit of up-to $300 (USD) of the total cost of the unit, including installation, of gas tankless hot water heaters through 2011 for existing, primary residences.Electric storage tank and electric tankless water heaters are not eligible for tax credits.To guarantee that you can apply for the tax credit, the unit must meet the required 0.82 energy factor (EF) or at least 90% thermal efficiency.
Tankless hot water heaters are relatively new in North America due to the predilection of residents to tank-type water heaters or boilers. This can slowly change with the growing popularity of alternative energy sources and the foreseeable increase in energy costs. More designs are also being manufactured and introduced into the market, which promises better performance and efficiency of tankless hot water heaters in the future.