Hot water heaters are great for saving energy, but they also come with some drawbacks. What are the benefits and disadvantages of using them?
Hot water heaters save energy because they take some time to warm up.
However, their residual heat stays for much longer, which means your home stays warmer for longer.
While hot water heaters are convenient, they are not always the most effective way to heat every home. They can cost you more in the long run.
We take a look at the benefits and disadvantages of a hot water heating system
Table of Contents
What’s A Hot Water Heating System?
A hot water heating system is simply warm water that you can use to heat your home.
In comparison, with a boiler, you can also heat your home but a boiler generates steam.
Steam from this boiler heats the water inside a tank called an exchanger.
This heated water then circulates through radiators located throughout your house.
When you turn on your hot water heater, it will start warming up the water inside its tank. As the temperature rises, so does the pressure inside the tank.
Eventually, the pressure reaches a point where it forces the water out of the tank into the exchanger.
The exchanger has tubes that carry the heated water to various parts of your house.
Once there, the water flows through pipes that lead to each radiator. Each radiator contains fins that transfer heat to air circulating around the room.
When the water passes through these pipes, it picks up heat from the surrounding air.
This process continues until all the water in the exchanger has been transferred to the radiators.
Pros Of Hot Water Heating Systems
Let’s take some of the benefits of a hot water heating system in your home.
One of the biggest advantages of hot water heaters is that they retain residual heat after being turned off.
This means that when you turn the heater back on again, it will be ready to use right away.
You won’t have to wait for it to get hot like with electric resistance or gas heat. You will also feel that your radiators stay warmer for much longer.
Another benefit of using hot water heaters is their low noise level.
Unlike a system with furnace forced air which makes a lot of noise as it heats the air with fans, a hot water heating system doesn’t force any air through fans.
This means that hot water heaters are a lot quieter.
If you’re someone who suffers from allergies, then you know how important it is to keep your home free from dust and pollen.
As a hot water heater doesn’t move any air around, it also doesn’t distribute any dust, pollen, or allergens through your home.
No Clean Air Ducts
Another advantage of having a hot water heater is that there aren’t any clean air ducts required.
As there is no necessity to distribute heat, you won’t need any clean air ducts.
Another less obvious benefit of installing a boiler to heat your house is that radiators that distribute the heat in a room are near the floor.
In comparison, other heating systems, such as furnace heating, distribute the heat through fans in the ceiling or higher up on walls.
With a hot air system, you’ll find that it is much warmer in the areas where you sit and walk.
Finally, one of the main reasons why people choose to install a hot water heater is because it is generally much cheaper than other heating systems.
Tankless hot water heaters with a boiler can save space in your home. If you already have a large amount of space available, this may not be a factor.
However, if you live in a small apartment or condo, then you may want to consider installing a hot water heater.
This way, you can still enjoy the benefits of a hot shower without taking up too much space.
More Energy Efficient
A tankless hot water heater uses less energy than a traditional storage tank.
It does so by being able to store only enough hot water to meet the needs of the household at any given time.
Lower Monthly Costs
Because hot water systems are so much more efficient, they cost less per month to operate.
This means that you will pay less money each month to run them.
Some tankless hot water systems can come in at around 20% lower monthly costs than some other heating systems.
This can be a significant saving over the year.
Cons Of Hot Water Heating Systems
Now let’s look at some of the downsides of using a hot water heater.
They Take Longer To Warm Up
A major disadvantage of hot water heaters compared to other heating systems is that they take a longer time to start warming up.
It takes about 15 minutes before your boiler gets hot enough to supply you with hot water.
This is quite different from a furnace which usually starts working within 5-10 minutes of turning it on.
Costs Of Installation
Hot water heaters are also very expensive to install. Installing a hot water heater is also more complicated than other types of heating systems.
Because hot water heaters require a tank, pipes, and valves, they need to be installed professionally.
Risk Of Leakage
Leaking hot water heaters are dangerous. They could cause serious damage to your home if you don’t fix them immediately.
Leaks can occur due to several things including:
- Improper installation
- Poor maintenance
- Damaged parts
A boiler will always carry the possible risk of leakage in the pipes, which could cause water damage across your home.
However, the majority of hot water systems do come with 15 or more years of warranty, and they rarely break down.
No Air Conditioning Add-ons
One of the biggest disadvantages of a hot water system is that it does not include add-on options for air conditioning.
This means that you cannot use this type of system to cool your home during the summer months.
In comparison, a furnace heating system uses ducts that can be used to either distribute hot or cold air.
As hot water heating doesn’t use ducts for the heat distribution, there is no option to add air conditioning to a hot water system at a later stage.
If you live in a cool climate where it’s relatively cool all year round, then this is not a big issue.
However, if you live in a warm climate with high temperatures in the summer months, then you may need to opt for a solution that provides both heating and cooling.
Additional Maintenance Required
Another downside of hot water heaters is that they require regular maintenance.
Depending on the additional equipment that’s necessary for your heating system, you will need to have an electrician check your boiler regularly to ensure it runs as smoothly as possible.
Added up over the years, this can be more costly.
When choosing between gas and electric boilers, it comes down to what works best for you.
Electric boilers are ideal for those who would prefer to keep their costs low while enjoying the benefits of a warm home.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Hot Water Heating Systems Efficient?
Yes, hot water heaters (see also ‘How Long Does It Take For A Hot Water Heater To Fill Up?‘) are highly energy efficient. This is because they run much more efficiently and they retain residual heat for a long time.
This means that even when you turn your heating off, you will feel the warmth from the radiators for a while.
This also makes them much more cost-effective and cheaper to run.
Is Hot Water Heating Better Than Gas Heating Systems?
Gas heating systems are much cheaper to install than hot water heating systems.
However, hot water heating systems are more reliable and they maintain a lot more heat which can be distributed throughout your home.
How Long Should I Expect My Hot Water System To Last?
The average lifespan of a hot water system depends on how well maintained it is.
If you take care of your hot water system by keeping it clean and checking its components regularly, then you can expect it to last between 10 and 20 years.
However, if the system has been neglected for many years, then it might only last around five to seven years.
It’s important to regularly check your boiler and heating system.
What Is The Most Common Cause Of Problems In A Hot Water Heating System?
Leaks in the pipes are one of the most common causes of problems in a hot tap water heater.
They can lead to water damage across your property, which can cause a health risk and create mold.
Water leaks can occur anywhere along with the piping network, so it’s best to look out for any signs of leakage before they become a problem.
If you spot any leaks, immediately ring your plumber.