Tankless vs. Natural Gas Hot Water Heaters: Deciding What’s Right for Your Home

Tankless water heater or a natural gas hot water heater is a big investment and one that can impact your budget and comfort for years to come. A tankless water heater also referred to as an “on-demand water heater,” provides hot water by running it through a heating element before delivering it to the point of use. In contrast, a natural gas hot water heater (or “conventional water heater”) collects water in a storage tank before it goes to the faucet. Obviously, there are significant differences between the two types of appliances, so knowing how those differences will impact you is crucial to making an informed decision.

Energy efficiency Tankless vs. Natural Gas

Tankless water heaters are considerably more energy-efficient than conventional water heaters. According to Energy.gov, if you use up to 41 gallons of heated water per day, an on-demand water heater can be between 24 and 34 percent more energy efficient. If you use a lot of hot water, let’s say 86 gallons a day, you can achieve an energy savings of between eight and 14 percent. Moreover, installing tankless water heaters at every point of use can yield an energy savings of between 27 and 50 percent.


Because tankless water heaters are more energy efficient, they save the average household at least $100 per year. However, the sticker price on an on-demand appliance is usually at least $2,000. Most natural gas hot water heaters are priced at $1,100 or over, depending on the size of the tank.

Life of the appliance

When you invest in an appliance, you want it to last as long as possible. On average, a conventional water heater has a life of around 10 to 12 years. A tankless water heater, on the other hand, doesn’t need replacing for approximately 20 years.


Maintenance is an important factor to consider, as it will impact overall costs, as well as how soon you’ll need to replace your appliance. Both types of water heaters need to be cleaned and serviced by a professional plumber each year. Conventional water heaters are prone to sediment buildup in the tank, which can cause wear and tear. The heating elements in tankless water heaters are sensitive to limescale buildup, so certain parts might require extra attention.

Space requirements

The size of an appliance can also impact its suitability for your home. Natural gas hot water heaters are typically large because they have storage tanks, which is why they’re often installed in basements. However, for smaller homes or condos, on-demand water heaters can be more appropriate, since they’re much smaller and take up far less room.


Of course, since nobody likes taking a cold shower, hot water is absolutely crucial to your comfort. Unfortunately, conventional water heaters run out of hot water when the storage tank is empty. This can happen if your household consumes a lot of water—for example, if you, your spouse, and your three children all take early morning showers. An on-demand water heater never runs out of hot water. However, since it can take a while to heat the water to the desired temperature before delivering it to the faucet, the water pressure might not be as good as with a conventional model.

These six considerations will go a long way in helping you determine what kind of water heater is right for your home. And of course, if you need more information, it’s always advisable to discuss your needs with a reputable local plumber.

Call Flatley's Plumbing Express for more information on tankless vs natural gas water heaters!

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