By Gene and Katie Hamilton
Hmmm. What's a tankless water heater you're wondering? Simply, it is a hot water heater that heats water as you use it, giving you an endless supply of hot water, instead of heating and storing water like a traditional tank unit does. While the tankless units have been popular in Europe and Asia for years, they're only recently making their way into U.S. homes. Compared with a traditional gas hot water heater, a tankless unit is considered safer and more economical to operate because there is no pilot light and the unit only runs when the system is used so you can expect a lower gas bill. For a small home, there's an added bonus - no bulky tank.
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Installing a tankless water heater is similar to installing a regular gas water heater; you'll connect to a gas line, water line and vent, but the tankless system also has an electrical connection to power the computer and venting system. If you put the new tankless unit in the same space as an old gas tank water heater, you don't have to redo any plumbing lines. A plumber will charge $1,100 to replace a traditional gas water heater with a new tankless unit like the Takagi T-KJr, which can produce 180 gallons of hot water per hour. In home centers, you'll find other units designed for do-it-yourselfers. We, however, suggest that even though you can save about 30 precent by doing it yourself leave this job to the professionals.
Cost updated 2013