Yes, it is true that under-counter water heaters save water and energy—but to me one of the best reasons to consider installing one is the time you save while you would have been standing there waiting. If, like me, you want to use that time for something more productive, here are some other great reasons for purchasing one.
Under-counter water heaters can be divided into two main types—those for commercial use, and units designed for a residential kitchen or bathroom. Considered a point-of-use water heater, they produce hot water upon demand, and don’t include a hot water storage tank. (There are still manufacturers who supply under-counter units with a small hot water tank, but most buyers today prefer the tankless options. Under-counter tank heaters are cheaper, and they can be plugged directly into an outlet. If you do decide to purchase a tank system, make sure that the tank is really well insulated.) Those used under the kitchen counter are usually called under-sink water heaters. They are great for a hand washing station in a garage or other out building.
Under-the-counter water heaters are usually too small to use for showers or appliances like dishwashers—a wall-mounted tankless water heater will be needed. The under-counter heater will be best suited to hand and dish washing (by hand, not machine), and hot drinks.
Commercial users can also install an under-the-counter unit to boost heat when needed, and at the precise temperature desired. Or they may choose a larger unit that can supply several sinks at once. Another commercial use is an establishment in a large building with limited hot water supply. For example, a dental or doctor’s office might use under-the-counter tankless units for the constant hand washing that is needed.
Saving Space, Energy and Water
Domestic hot water users appreciate the counter-space saving feature of these appliances. In today’s kitchen counter space is crowded with everything from microwaves to food processors, but the luxury of having the amount of hot water you need, exactly when you need it, is a huge advantage. Water has become a scarce commodity in many parts of the world, and also costs more and more, so saving all that water that would have run down the drain until it became hot is quite a benefit.
Because the unit is not maintaining and reheating water in a tank, the energy saved can be considerable in both commercial and domestic settings. In addition to water and energy cost savings, installation and maintenance costs are usually much lower than for a storage tank system. Because they are installed at the point of use, the need for extensive piping is also eliminated. Warranties for tankless water heaters are typically longer than for water-storage-type heaters.
Consider the option for push button use; with these the water will only flow while the user holds the button down, which alleviates the worry of too much water flowing into a container or of scalding the user.
Since under-the-counter water heaters are uniformly electric, you need to know the requirements for your unit. The new heater must be wired into the circuit box, installed with dedicated double-pole breakers. You will also need copper tubing to connect to your water line. It is a good idea to check with a local building inspector to learn about any local code requirements that may not be included in the user manual.
So, now that you know all the benefits of an under-the-counter water heater, you can go ahead and save your waiting time with a good conscience.
Connie Williams is an information junkie who lives to ferret out fascinating ideas for her readers. She writes blog posts on a variety of topics such as water boilers. Under counter water heaters have become such an attractive alternative that she is planning to purchase one when upgrading her kitchen.