Let's start at the beginning -- a traditional water heater is a tank that gets filled with water then heated up. A tankless unit heats water as it flows by. People in the Bay Area love this idea, they just can't all afford them.
In Lafayette it is out with the old -- a tank water heater -- and in with a tankless water heater from Noritz. It is brand new to the market and a game changer. We watched it being installed in Craig Deily's home.
"The price points for the tankless heaters are starting to get to the point where they are closer to the tank water heaters," said Deily.
That is brand new. Putting in a tank water heater runs around $2,000 with installation. A standard tankless runs around $3,500, give or take. However, that is not the case for the Noritz model.
Seth Potkin is with the company making the water heater, Noritz. He said, "This is our NRC 661. It is a high-efficiency condensing tankless water heater, operates at 94 percent thermal efficiency, uses a smaller gas line and uses PVC venting."
Smaller gas line and PCV venting -- those are huge differences.
Plumber Paul Volga, from Volga Plumbing, says when putting in tankless water heaters he used to have to rip out gas lines and install steel venting, but not with this unit. He told us, "That is where the cost savings is in this unit. So they have narrowed it down so we can use the utilities that are here which saves the homeowner money, it saves the plumbing contractor time. It works great. For a two-bathroom house it is absolutely fantastic."
The sheet metal and piping work is expensive so avoiding it offers big savings.
Finney: "So you save about $1,000?"
Finney: "And on it is on par with a tank."
Finney: "Do you have one in your house?"
"I had looked at it, but quit honestly I was living with what I had and considering a tank water heater, but when Paul came back to me and said, 'Listen, I think this might work for your home, these are the benefits of it,' and we talked about it, I did the math, penciled it out, it made sense to go with the tankless," said Deily.
Finney: "It appears to me you have taken a luxury item and made it available to the middle class. Is that kind of what's happening?"
Potkin: "That is exactly what's happened."
These Noritz heaters will run you about $2,400 installed, but there is a $300 tax credit available for many tankless water heaters, including the ones in our story.
Prices can vary so you need to get pricing for your home and your units. And remember, if you install a tankless water heater, you will not have an emergency water supply during an earthquake.
These units could save you between 20-50 percent on your utility bill.
Volga Plumbing: 1-925-947-0466