Alternate forms of energy

3 Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing Between Tankless Heaters and Solar Hot Water Systems

If you want to lower your monthly utility bills and help reduce your environmental footprint, it's a good idea to think about changing your hot water system. Traditional water heating systems used either gas or electricity to heat up a tankful of water. Unfortunately, plenty of energy is wasted this way since the tank must expend energy keeping the water hot, even if it isn't being used.

Using a tankless system or solar panels are two great ways of getting around this problem. With a tankless system, water is warmed by a heating element that it passes through on the way to your taps, so you'll only ever heat what's needed. With solar panels, the energy needed to heat the tank will be drawn from the sun.

Of course, it can often be tricky to choose between these two options, but you can ask yourself the following three questions to make the decision easier.

1. How Many People Share Your Home?

Firstly, you should ask yourself how many people are living in your property; a family of five will use far more hot water than just a couple. Though solar systems don't consume resources, they are still used to keep a single tank of water hot, and that tank can be depleted quickly when lots of people are having to take showers, wash dishes, and so on. In contrast, tankless heaters can supply a theoretically infinite amount of hot water.

2. How Much Space Do You Have?

People living in smaller homes will often prefer to use tankless systems since they don't take up as much space. If, for example, you're living in a one-bedroom apartment, the space used by the hot water tank can be a substantial part of your overall space, often taking up a whole closet. Solar heating systems will need to retain that space to keep the tank.

3. How Much Can You Spend?

Changing your hot water system is always going to be costly, but tankless systems tend to be a lot less expensive than solar systems in terms of upfront cost, so keep this in mind if budget is an issue. However, solar panels won't require the consumption of any energy, so you're likely to save a lot more in the long-term; if you have the money, solar panels are a much better investment than tankless water heaters, and their energy can be used to provide power for more than your hot water system.