Guests coming for the holidays? Storage water heaters can’t cut it
Thanksgiving and Christmas are times when families scattered across the country or the globe reunite to spend quality time together. If your relatives drive for hours or take a plane to reach you, chances are they'll be needing a place to stay and it's a bad host that tells brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles to get a hotel. That means your home will need to take on a few more people, and while you may be focused on cooking enough food or planning enough events for their stay, you should also be thinking about how you're going to make sure your old water heater can handle the excess strain.
If you have a storage water heater with a large reservoir, odds are that it won't be able to cut the mustard when your guests need to take showers one after the other. If you're committed to playing the gracious host, making sure everyone has hot water during the holidays should be a priority. Only gas or electric tankless water heaters can do the job right.
Bigger isn't better
If you've noticed that your storage water heater has trouble supplying your immediate family with enough water throughout the year, you might have a big problem on your hands when your guests arrive. Depending on the size of your water heater, it might only take one or two long showers to deplete what hot water water was left in the tank. From then on, it's a battle between everybody in the house to get the last drops of lukewarm water until enough time passes for the reservoir to refill itself, heat the new water and send it off to every place in the house that needs it.
In fact, the only way that a storage water heater makes sense for the holidays is if you buy an absurdly large industrial-grade heater for your home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can find your home's water usage by calculating the First Hour Rating, or the amount of water your home needs during its peak activity. Multiply the number of showers your family usually takes within an hour by 10 gallons – the average volume. If anybody shaves, brushes their teeth or washes some dishes during this hour, you'll need to multiply the average water usage of all these, too.
With more guests in your home, your FHR will likely be well above 100 gallons. Even if you think buying a water heater this size might be economical for the holidays, you'll be paying out the nose in wasted energy costs for the rest of the year.
Go the distance
Having guests over during the holidays usually means that the bathroom on the third floor you never use is going to see a lot of action. If you have a storage water heater that's already being pushed to the limit by showers, dishwashers and sinks all over the house, the sheer distance that the hot water has to move from the heater to that far-off bathroom is enough to lose all warmth.
Green Building Advisor explained that most large houses have an average of 50 feet of plumbing between the heater and the faucet or shower in question. Depending on the material and diameter of the piping in your home, you could be leaking heat into the walls of your house. By the time the water gets to that third-floor bathroom, it might be lukewarm at best.
Don't let your old hot water heater ruin the holidays for you and your guests. Buy a gas or electric tankless water heater for your home or several smaller point-of-use units for a happy – and warm – holiday season.