Water heaters are an essential part of our daily lives. They help power our washing machines and dishwashers, not to mention our showers and baths! However, if you have an older model, it may not actually be serving your needs efficiently or effectively. The traditional hot water heaters found in many homes have been surpassed in both design and performance by modern tankless styles. Learn how tankless models work and about the performance, cost, and energy benefits they offer. You may decide that going tankless is right for you.

A traditional water heater works by keeping a tank of hot water at the ready. A heating element cycles on and off throughout the day and night to make that possible, and then the hot water is fed to different faucets and appliances as called for. A tankless water heater, on the other hand, does not have a storage tank in which heated water is kept. Instead, it uses a sophisticated calculation process to provide hot water as needed on a case-by-case basis. When a hot water tap is opened, for example, the tankless heater’s flow turbine gets a signal to start the heating process. Based on the incoming water temperature, the desired water temperature, and the difference between the two, the heater’s control board adjusts the gas or electric flow to the burner assembly so that the water starts heating. When the tap is turned off, the heater shuts down and goes into standby mode until it’s called upon again.

This “on call” style of water heating provided by tankless models is useful for a number of reasons. Most of us have experienced the displeasure caused when a nice warm shower suddenly turns cold as the hot water runs out. This never happens with tankless water heaters because there isn’t a finite amount of water in a tank–instead, the water is heated as it’s called for, and for as long as it’s called for. In addition to making life a lot more pleasant, this approach also means that you’re not using as much energy–or spending as much money–to keep a tank of hot water ready to go day and night. When no hot water is being requested, the tankless heater doesn’t heat any up. Over time, the energy and cost savings that this provides can prove substantial.

The essential difference between a tankless water heater and a traditional model is that the former heats up water for home use as it’s called for. This intelligent functioning means that you and your family can enjoy unlimited hot water and can rest assured that you’re only paying for the water that you need.