Does a Tankless Water Heater Save on Water Usage? Pros and Cons for Homeowners

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Tired of waiting for the shower water to heat up? Tankless water heaters warm on demand—and they deliver consistent hot water for as long as you need. That means no longer having to tough it out with streams of ice-cold water when you’re last in line for the shower.

But while tankless water heaters score a big point for providing instant hot water, do they save on water usage?

“There are some instances that they will,” says Brian Fenske, director of commercial sales for Navien, a tankless water heater and boiler manufacturer. “If the tankless unit is located closer to the fixtures, less water will be wasted because you don’t have to spend as much time waiting for the purge of cool water in the pipe, and the hot water to arrive.”

Common sense will tell us that the best way to save on water usage is to change your habits. Limiting your shower time and turning off the shower as you soap and shampoo can go a long way.

But if you’re considering going an extra step and upgrading to a tankless water heater, here are some pros and cons.

Pro: A tankless water heater will save money in the future

The investment you put into a tankless water heater will save you money in the long run, experts say, since gas and electricity won’t be running to constantly maintain water temperature.

Fenske says tankless water heaters have “much higher operating efficiencies in the range of 30% to 45% over conventional residential gas-fired tanks.”

Plus, tankless water heaters typically last more than 20 years, compared with 10 to 15 years for traditional water heaters, and their efficiency is improving all the time.

“Technology is getting better and better on tankless water heaters, whereas tank water heaters have reached a plateau,” says Carlos Cabrera, owner and operator of Verday Smart Solutions in San Diego.

Con: High initial cost

Tankless water heaters have many advantages, but one disadvantage for some homeowners can be the price.

“Tankless water heaters are usually more expensive than traditional tank water heaters—two or two-and-a-half times more expensive,” says Cabrera.

Fenske says elevated installation or retrofit costs can be a disadvantage, as well as additional components and parts.

“However, today these are as dependable as our other appliances, giving us years of service,” says Fenske.

But beyond the initial cost, homeowners can look forward to a reduction in their monthly energy bills and save hundreds of dollars a year.

Photo by Steele Consulting Group

Pro: On-demand hot water

We use hot water every day for showers, laundry, and dishwashing. Tankless water heaters provide hot water at a rate of 2 to 5 gallons per minute, according to the Department of Energy. They produce hot water only when you turn on the faucet and run more efficiently.

Since tankless water heaters don’t operate by storing and heating water, they never run out of hot water and provide endless and consistent delivery of hot water.

“It can provide 300 gallons an hour, far exceeding residential-style tanks, allowing constant and additional hot water use, and not having to wait for a tank to recover,” says Fenske.

Con: Shared hot water output

Showering, running the dishwasher, and using the washing machine all at the same time can be an issue, especially with a smaller unit. That’s because an unlimited stream of hot water is shared among all faucets and appliances demanding it. A larger unit may be able to supply hot water to all, but the expense will be steeper.

There’s also the issue of temperature fluctuations.

“Some customers experience what is called a ‘hot-cold sandwich’ in the shower when there isn’t enough demand,” says Cabrera.

Experts say this is a common tankless water heater problem that happens for pressure-related reasons. When hot water is turned off and there isn’t demand, the tankless water heater immediately stops heating the water.  When it turns on again, you get an initial blast of hot water left over from its previous hot water run and then a short blast of cold water.

Pro: Lower energy bills

A tankless water heater can help lower your energy bill. If there is no demand for hot water in a household, the tankless water heater will remain idle. It will turn on only when, for example, a dishwasher or shower is switched on. Traditional water heaters have to constantly use energy to reheat water anytime it cools.

Con: Not low maintenance

Though they may seem more low-maintenance compared with traditional tank water heaters, they do require maintenance. Both types of water heaters have to deal with hard water, but especially tankless water heaters.

Minerals can build up in the heat exchanger, eventually plugging up the passages (which disrupts water flow) and making the water heater work harder to heat water. This in turn can affect the water heater’s lifespan and increase energy bills.

Mineral buildup on the heat exchanger can cause damage and require replacement; the entire unit may also have to be replaced.

Furthermore, issues caused by lime, mineral buildup, or scale are typically not covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. Preventive maintenance requires tankless water heaters be flushed and drained regularly and the filters cleaned every month, experts say.

Pro: Tankless water heaters are smaller

Traditional water heaters are big tanks of hot water in your basement that are hard to miss. Tankless water heaters are smaller and sometimes mounted on the wall.

Cabrera says tankless heaters are space-saving and have a “potential leak of 1 gallon as opposed to 40 or 50 gallons.”

Fenske says their “space-saving designs allow installations closer to fixture use for better energy and water savings.”

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The Property Brothers Reveal a Kitchen Trend Many Haven’t Even Seen

HGTV

Drew and Jonathan Scott are pros at spotting hot new trends, and they include a real zinger in the kitchen they renovate on the latest episode of “Property Brothers: Forever Home.”

On the “Old Neighborhood, New House” episode, Kerri and Andrew are excited to raise their four young kids in their new home in Toronto. It’s already a beautiful home and in a great neighborhood (near where Kerri grew up), but the space still needs lots of work. With outdated finishes and closed-off rooms, the brothers know they need to make this house feel more like a forever home.

Read on to see how the brothers update this space, and get some tips on easy upgrades you can do to your own home!

staircase should feel grand

These carpeted steps screamed “outdated.”HGTV

Kerri and Andrew explain that they fell in love with their new house, in part, because of the entryway. With a grand staircase and high ceilings, the space is designed well. The only problem? Dated finishes.

With out-of-date railings and carpeted steps, the stairs have an old-fashioned look, so Jonathan and Drew get to work bringing this entryway into the 21st century.

This staircase got a big upgrade!HGTV

They install new railings, refinish the handrails, and take out that pesky carpet. When renovations are finally finished, the brothers are able to welcome Kerri and Andrew into a grand entryway that looks wonderfully modern.

Dark cabinets work great in bright kitchens

With dark cabinets and dark counters, this kitchen needed something to brighten it up.HGTV

Kerri and Andrew aren’t big fans of white cabinets, so the Scott brothers know to choose something more colorful for their kitchen. Since the space is so large, the brothers decide on deep-green cabinetry along with white countertops.

“When you’ve got all that bright, light, open space,” Drews explains, “you can create some amazing contrast with a darker tone of wood or bold color on the kitchen cabinetry.”

These green cabinets are perfect for this kitchen.HGTV

In the end, the kitchen has a gorgeous mix of light and dark, with the green giving the space a moody feel and the white counters keeping it looking fresh.

The next hot kitchen trend: 3D backsplashes

This stylish backsplash adds texture to the kitchen.HGTV

With beautiful cabinets and elegant countertops, the brothers know that Andrew and Kerri will need an elegant yet unique backsplash to finish the kitchen.

The Scott brothers deliver with a style of tile that’s so new, many may not even be aware that it exists: 3D tile. This type of tile is textured rather than flat, adding an interesting look and feel to a backsplash.

“The final piece to pull this kitchen together will be the backsplash,” Jonathan says. “This 3D rhombus tile will be a great contrast to our saturated green cabinetry.”

When Kerri and Andrew finally see their new kitchen, they love the new backsplash.

“It’s flawless,” Kerri says.

Create a dining room that isn’t too formal

Even big windows couldn’t save this closed-off space.HGTV

When Kerri and Andrew first show the brothers their new home, they explain that they aren’t happy with the dining room. It’s closed off and dark, and the dark wood table they have in the room makes the space feel even more gloomy.

Drew and Jonathan know that this young family needs a dining space that’s more bright, more open, and much less formal. The brothers want the area to be elegant enough for entertaining, but still kid-friendly.

This dining space is light, bright, and beautiful.HGTV

The brothers’ first step is to open up the dining space by breaking down the walls. Then they add brightness with fun purple curtains, a cozy area rug, and a round table that can fit the whole family.

With a light wood tone to complement the new wood floors and green chairs to match the kitchen cabinets, this table is perfect for the family to gather around.

“This round table is perfect,” Kerri says.

Choose show-stopping light fixtures

These lights make the kitchen look even brighter.HGTV

With a new dining area and a new kitchen, Drew and Jonathan know that these spaces will need new lighting. For the dining room, they choose a modern silver chandelier that Kerri and Andrew admit they wouldn’t have bought themselves, but love it now that it’s in the space.

In the kitchen, the brothers go for a more conventional, homey vibe with rounded lighting fixtures that make the space feel bright and soft.

“All the lighting is fabulous,” Kerri says. “It makes the place so bright and airy.”

How much do the Scott brothers spend?

Kerri and Andrew have a big house and, luckily, a big budget to go with it. They can spend a max of $200,000, but the brothers say they can renovate the living room, dining room, and kitchen for just $190,000.

However, the Scotts end up going $2,500 over their intended budget when Andrew asks them to surprise Kerri with a second living space at the front of the house. Still, the total of $192,500 is well under the family’s max budget.

In the end, Drew and Jonathan do a great job updating this house and making it feel like a forever home.

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The Easiest Gardening Trick Ever: Vegetables You Can Regrow in Nothing but Water

Mehriban Aliyeva/Getty Images

These days, it seems like everyone is jumping into the victory garden trend, enjoying the benefits of a soothing activity in the fresh air while reaping fresh and tasty produce to eat. But even those who don’t have a yard, or just don’t want to get dirt under their nails, can still enjoy the miracle of growing something that’s destined for the dinner table—without even ordering vegetable seeds.

That’s because you can start an indoor garden from your kitchen leftovers. No soil required!

We talked to master gardener Linda Tyson, owner of garden design and maintenance company South Suburban Garden Girl, and Kevin Espiritu, author and the founder of Epic Gardening, to get their tips on growing vegetables without getting down and dirty.

Green onions

“Green onions are probably the best all-around pick as they give you what you want, as in the tops of the onions,” says Espiritu.

To grow green onions from scraps, make sure you have the root end with a half-inch of the bulb intact. Then, place it in a glass with enough water to cover it.

Tyson suggests raiding your barware for the perfect scallion-growing container.

“Two or three scallions in a shot glass works well to make sure they will stay upright,” she says.

You will need to change the water once every couple of days, and in a week or so, you’ll have enough growth to harvest. Use scissors to snip off the amount from the top needed for your recipe, and allow the rest to continue to grow.

Carrot tops

“Carrot tops are common [to grow in water], but you won’t get what you think—only more tops, not a root,” warns Espiritu.

What’s the point in growing carrot tops? Well, they taste similar to parsley.

“These nutritious leaves can be cut and enjoyed in salads, stir-fries, or sautés, or used as garnishes,” Tyson says.

To grow in water, cut off the top half-inch or so of a carrot (the root part). Place the cut end into a shallow bowl and fill with water so that it reaches about halfway up the carrot stump. Place the bowl in a sunny location. It will start to sprout in a few days. Harvest the greens as needed.

sian greens and lettuce

Growing lettuce in water from scraps in kitchen and on the windowsillMehriban Aliyeva/Getty Images

Espiritu says Asian greens like bok choy are easy to regrow from scraps as well, as long as the base including the “inner growing tips” is intact. This method will also work for head lettuces like romaine.

Cut off the base of a plant, and place it in a bowl bottom-down. Cover the base with water, but no more than a quarter-inch above the base. Replace the water every few days. You should start to see growth in about one week. You can harvest the new growth.

“These fresh greens can be cut and regrown repeatedly before they exhaust themselves,” says Tyson. “Change the water daily, and you may have two or three weeks of harvesting fresh greens from your kitchen windowsill.”

Herbs

What’s better to liven up a meal than fresh parsley? zoranm/iStock

Having access to fresh herbs in your kitchen can take your cooking to the next level. The key to success is the stem: “The softer the stem, the easier it will be,” says Espiritu.

Select several 4-inch stems from a bunch of herbs. Look for stems that are green and pliable. Strip all leaves from about 75% of each stem with a sharp knife. Put the stems in a jar of water and place it in a sunny location. Change the water every other day. You’ll soon notice new roots form along the stems and some new growth on top. Harvest what you need for your recipe.

Celery

How long does it take for you to use up one bunch of celery? Often when a recipe calls for celery, you use only a stalk or two. Regrowing celery may be worthwhile for light users.

Rinse off the base of a bunch of celery and place it in a small bowl or wide-mouthed jar, with the cut stalks facing upright. Fill the container with water. Place the container in a sunny area and leave it for about a week, changing the water every other day. The yellow leaves around the center of the base will grow thicker and turn dark green.

“In a few days you can start cutting the sprouts for use in salads, sandwiches, and other dishes,” says Tyson.

Take it to the next level

If growing vegetables in water gives you a boost of garden confidence, Tyson says it’s time to take it to the next level.

“You can also grow these same throw-away portions of vegetables in potting soil in small pots on a sunny windowsill, patio, balcony, or in the ground in a sunny vegetable or flower bed,” she says. “Planting these vegetables in the soil will provide even more nutritious greens and a more bountiful, longer-lasting harvest than growing them in water.”

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Replace Your Quarantine Clutter With These 5 Dreamy Decor Ideas We Found on Instagram

With the country starting to reopen, it might finally be time to stop hoarding toilet paper. Which means it might also be time to kick all that extra stuff out of your living room—like the surplus of cleaning supplies, kitchen-overflow of canned soup, and the many, many bottles of water.

Call us crazy, but we also think it’s the perfect time to give your space a face-lift. After months of quarantine, we’re all about ready for a makeover (or, at the very least, a haircut). While we can’t redesign your wardrobe or tame your hair, we can at least lend a hand when it comes to giving your living room a fresh, new look.

Like we do every week, we’re back with five of the best trends on Instagram, this time focused on taking your living room out of quarantine and into the summer.

1. Globe mirror

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Inception 🧡🌿 #iconjanehome

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You’ve probably noticed giant floor mirrors before, but rarely have we seen one quite this massive—and round. Fortunately, @iconjanehome is on it.

“We are so used to the obligatory vertical floor mirror with sharp angular edges that this large, round mirror is a perfect change,” says Michelle Harrison-McAllister of Michelle Harrison Design. “A large, round mirror bounces light all around your room, creating a welcoming vibe.”

Get the look: Make your living room feel even brighter with this Elin accent mirror from Wayfair.

2. Natural chandelier

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LAZY Sunday! Not really lazy, cause I have a ton of laundry to do. But no cooking today! It’s a GORGEOUS day and my husband has agreed to grill today 🙌🏻. He’s the grill master, but getting him to do it? Takes some work 🤣. I’ve been thinking to put together a mood board{a little teaser} of the basement selections. Would you like to see it? Hope you all have a fantastic Sunday😘 Don’t forget to tag me on your porch photos #casagrellalovesporches #mytradhome #homeinspirations #livingroominspiration #livingroomstyle #livingrooms #farmhouseinspired #farmhousefanatics #smmakelifebeautiful #housebeautiful #houseenvy #finditstyleit #bohoinspired #neutralstyle #sectionalsofa #homeinspo4you #farmhousechic #cozyhomedecor #homestylinginspo #homedecorideas #myinterior #interiordesigning #cottagestyle #mycountryhome #mybhghome #betterhomesandgardensmagazine #farmhousefeatures #thatsgoodhousekeeping #thedesigntwinslovespring #americanfarmhousestyle

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The year’s decor trends are big on bringing us back to nature, which is just one of the reasons we love this textured chandelier featured by @casagrella.

“Adding a natural material chandelier in any room of your home offers an organic and modern update,” says Harrison-McAllister. “People love this trend because of the familiar material that’s presented in an unusual way—making for a bold statement in any home.”

Get the look: To re-create this bold statement in your living room, check out the Hodgdon single-globe pendant from Wayfair.

3. Cabana stripes

Black and white stripes are making a big comeback this summer, as evidenced by this trending post from the living room of @boho.helene.

“These stripes are a sophisticated way to add some character and pattern to the space without creating extra noise,” says interior decorator Shelby Greene. “Black and white stripes are a neutral colorblock that creates interest, yet they’re easy on the eye and don’t distract or take away from the overall design.”

Get the look: Snag some striped glamour for your digs with this black and white cabana rug from Living Spaces.

4. Royal palm lighting

You’re probably not feeling like royalty these days, but this gorgeous lamp featured by @sea_tribe might change your mind.

“This brass palm tree floor lamp is an art piece and lighting all in one,” says Harrison-McAllister. “Bringing the organic shape of the palm tree offers your room a hint of the outdoors, whether you live in Kansas, Miami, or Connecticut. This style also brings personality to a living room, and the brass finish adds some color and sophistication.”

Get the look: You can get your own royal palm lamp by shopping this Emily & Meritt palm floor lamp from Pottery Barn.

5. 3D accent wall

Who says you need a fresh coat of paint to make a wall pop? Not @eclectic_goods, which is positively rocking this 3D all-white accent wall in the living room.

“Adding depth is a timeless look for any room, and if you want an alternative to simply adding another piece of artwork, this is the solution for you,” says Harrison-McAllister. “This trend allows homeowners to personalize their walls without any construction—since an accent wall like this one can be done using peel-and-stick applications.”

Get the look: Add some depth to your room with this selection of peel-and-stick wall appliqués from AllModern.

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How Quarantine Made Me Realize My Kitchen Was Organized All Wrong

kate_sept2004/Getty Images

Through 120-something home-cooked meals into my coronavirus-mandated home quarantine, I’ve experienced a lot of frustrating moments in my kitchen. But there is one thing that’s made the relentless meal prep much easier—and no, it’s not takeout.

I merely reorganized my kitchen.

While I’d always assumed my kitchen was efficiently put together pre-coronavirus, once I was making three meals a day in this space, it became painfully clear that certain aspects fell short. So I made a few adjustments. And boy, what a difference they made! Suddenly my cooking and cleanup seemed a lot faster and easier—and all in all became a more pleasant experience.

In case you’re facing food prep burnout, here are some of the changes I made to my kitchen organization that really helped streamline my cooking—and that might help you, too.

Clear your counters

Happiness is a clear countertop.M. Heidenry

First up, conquer the clutter on your kitchen counters so that squeezing in a cutting board isn’t the first chore you face at mealtime. The toaster I never use and the stack of clean dishes I let dry for a day—both gone.

And it turns out that organization/cooking experts approve of this move.

“Freeing up space in a kitchen instantly boosts how comfortable you feel,” says Steph Young, founder of CampingCooks.com.

But I didn’t leave the counter completely bare. I used to keep cooking utensils in a drawer and out of sight, which meant digging for a wooden spoon under the microplane and basting brushes I rarely used. So I moved utensils I used frequently—like spoons and spatulas—to a jar by the stove. Now I can easily reach for tools to flip and stir food.

“If everything is easily accessible, you’ll spend a lot less time looking for stuff and more time cooking,” adds Young.

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Watch: Can’t Find Cleaning Supplies? Try These Hacks

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Rearrange the items in your cabinets

Beans and extra cumin go up high.Inside cabinet

Like many other people who read early articles about buying enough food for two weeks, I dutifully stocked up on staples with a long shelf life. The bags of rice and cans of beans ended up on the bottom cabinet shelf where I had initially shoved them.

When a can of Great Northern beans landed on my foot as I searched for pasta, I heeded Marie Kondo and pulled out every last pantry item. Then I put things I wanted to eat (snacks!) on the bottom shelf, which I see every time I open the cabinet. The beans and rice went up top.

Keeping oft-used items front and center makes sense.

“Organize your cabinets so that you always have a clear view of the most used items you enjoy using,” says cookbook author Matt Moore, whose newest book is “Serial Griller.”

I also put items I’d normally save for company (i.e., fancy olive oil) on the bottom shelf, within easy reach. I realized that, instead of waiting for a special occasion that might be months off, now is the time to eat all the special food!

Keep a trash bowl handy

Those few steps between my cutting board and my trash can started to add up the more I cooked. To solve this problem, I placed a small bowl near my cutting board and designated it for vegetable scraps, eggshells, or other disposable items.

This shortcut became a godsend, and one that the pros use, too.

“I always have a trash bowl nearby while cooking and prepping ingredients,” says trained chef and registered dietitian Michele Sidorenkov of MyMillennialKitchen.com. “Having a bowl you can throw everything into as you cook saves you multiple trips to the trash, improves workflow, and helps you cook more efficiently.”

Mix up the dishes you use frequently

Put the items you use the most on the bottom shelf.M. Heidenry

Before the shelter-in-place order was issued, I kept an orderly tableware cabinet. Glasses were with glasses on one shelf, plates were with plates one shelf up, and mixing bowls were with mixing bowls on the third shelf. But no more.

At some point, I realized that reaching on my tiptoes for the mixing bowls I used to use infrequently—but now use every day—was just too much of a stretch. So I broke up the tyranny of keeping kind with kind.

Now, I keep the glasses, plates, and mixing bowls I use most often on the bottom, easy-to-reach shelf. Mixing bowls now mingle happily with glasses and plates. It may not look as uniform, but when I’m cooking I don’t care how things look.

Purge and organize your spices

Keep your sea salt and za’atar handy.M. Heidenry

Why did I have three containers of cumin crowding my spice drawer? Because I have a habit of forgetting my shopping list and buying the same things.

The unopened spices went up with the beans. Expired spices went in the trash. The sometimes-used spices stayed organized in the drawer.

“But keep all of your most-used spices within easy reach,” says food and home blogger Kait Rubin of SlumberandScones.com.

So the oft-used spices—for me that means sea salt, chile powder, and red pepper flakes—went up on a shelf by the stove. Meanwhile, I added the exotic spices I’d bought but never used (like za’atar) to my collection of special pantry items to reach for when I feel like experimenting. Because if we can’t try a few new recipes during quarantine, then when will we?

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