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Hot Water Tank vs Tankless Water Heater – How To Decide

If it’s time to get a new water heater, you may be wondering about tankless vs traditional water heaters and which one to get.

They both have their advantages and disadvantages – it’s all about what’s right for you.

Already know what you want, or have a question?

If you need some help deciding, we’ve provided an overview of each type.

Tankless Water Heaters: The Long Game

The main difference between tankless water heaters, hot water tanks and boilers is that tankless models only use energy when you turn on the tap. You aren’t paying to store a huge tank of water while you’re away at work or at night when you’re sleeping.

Tankless water heaters do cost more than water tanks, but you do get these advantages:

  1. Much lower energy costs. Because you only heat water when water is flowing, your energy costs will be much lower than with tanks – depending on your usage habits, you could see anywhere from 30 – 70% savings.
  2. You get as much hot water as you can use. This is great for larger families or people who have guests to stay frequently. No more cold showers! For some homes that have lots of simultaneous water draws, installing a couple in parallel can help.
  3. Many qualify for government rebates. This can help offset the higher purchase price.
  4. Smaller footprint. Tankless models mount on your wall, so they save room in your basement utility area.
  5. Much less chance of flooding should a breakdown occur. Most modern units have flood prevention built in – something most tanks don’t have.
  6. A working lifespan that’s twice as long. Tankless water heaters will last 20 years or more, with the right maintenance.

A tankless model may make sense for a Calgary homeowner if:

  • You plan to stay in your home for many years to come. It does take many years for the energy savings to pay off the purchase and installation cost, so it helps if you are still in your home when you reach the breakeven point.
  • You have a lot of people in your family. Tankless water heaters are also called “on demand” because they don’t run out of hot water.
  • You are away from home a lot. If you travel or work long hours, you won’t be paying to heat water you aren’t using.
  • Every inch of room counts. In smaller homes like townhouses, having a smaller water heater will help you get more out of your space.
  • Having an eco-friendly lifestyle is important to you. Tankless water heaters are a greener choice. Also, if energy costs go up, you won’t be hit as hard.
  • Providing yearly maintenance is not a problem. While both kinds of water heaters should be maintained yearly, most people neglect their water tanks without drastic results. Tankless models will need to be flushed yearly to prevent natural minerals in the water from building up and reducing efficiency.

Traditional Hot Water Tanks: A Sure Bet in The Short Term

The main advantage of a traditional hot water tank in Calgary is the lower purchase cost. As most homes are already set up for a tank, there’s also no need to change the gas line location or gauge, which is frequently the case with a tankless model.


  1. Budget friendly.
  2. Less demanding in terms of maintenance.
  3. Many modern models are much more efficient than back in the day – some are even Energy Star certified.

A water tank in Calgary is probably better for you if:

  • Your budget is smaller and every penny counts.
  • You are generally at home during the day, and will be using water as it’s heated – around the clock.
  • There is only a few residents at home.
  • You don’t plan to stay in your home in the long term.
  • There’s enough room in your basement for a water tank.

This guide can help give you an idea of what would make sense for you, but it’s always best to discuss your needs with the HVAC professionals at Knight.

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