Hot Water On Demand at the TOH 2018 Idea House
When This Old House selects products to showcase at our annual Idea Houses, we start from the ground up. We look for better building materials that make installation easier or last longer, fresh design trends with staying power, mechanicals and smart home products that save energy and money and enhance our readers’ lives. Here’s why Rinnai was our clear choice for hot water.
This year’s Idea House is located in a beach community and has the capacity to sleep 11. Even a large storage-tank water heater would struggle to deliver enough hot water when the house is full. And because the stays of visiting guests may be sporadic, a conventional water heater that is constantly running to keep the oversize tank heated would be expensive to operate.
Go Tankless for an Endless Supply of Hot Water
We knew we needed a tankless water heater. Unlike traditional storage tank units that operate around the clock and can run out of hot water, tankless units can heat an endless supply of water on demand. There’s no need to wait for the tank to heat up more water. Just turn on the shower upstairs and cold water is delivered via pipe to the tankless unit where it passes through a gas burner that almost instantly heats a constant flow of water to the desired temperature.
Fast Fact: While tankless units never run out of hot water, it is important that you select the right size water heater to ensure it can accommodate your specific hot-water needs. We chose a model that delivers a generous 9.8 gallons of water per minute, which will efficiently allow us to run multiple showers and appliances at the same time.
Recirculation for Instant Hot Water
Many people don’t realize that even though these units heat water almost instantly, it still takes time for that hot water to reach the locations where it’s needed. This can result in lots of wasted water going down the drain while waiting for it to reach your faucet. A recirculation system eliminates those problems by pumping cold water in a loop through the pipe and back through the heater. After about a minute, the water in the pipes reaches the right temperature, the recirculatory pump shuts down, and you have hot water the moment you turn on a shower or open a faucet.
Voice Activation for Convenience and Savings
Running a recirculation pump continually uses unnecessary energy and places wear on the heater. Rinnai’s on-demand recirculation pumps can be turned on with a motion sensor, smart phone or push button that homeowners can easily install wirelessly. And now, Rinnai takes convenience to the next level with recirculation that can be controlled with voice activation. For the main house, we chose the Rinnai SENSEI RU199IN 9.8 GPM tankless water heater which comes with a Control-R™ Wireless Module and mobile app compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home. With more than 20 voice commands, users can simply say, “Alexa, ask Rinnai to start circulation” or “Google, tell Rinnai I want to take a shower” and the system springs into action, delivering hot water with minimal waiting time and no waste. The great news for current owners of Rinnai tankless water heaters, the Control-R™ mobile app is available for existing models, 2006 and newer.
Fast Fact: Did you know that nearly a quarter of the average household’s energy spending is devoted to powering hot water? Only heat and cooling cost more. Tankless gas water heaters can save homeowners about $100 a year. And while the price to purchase these units can be almost double that of a storage tank heater, they last two to three times longer with savings that kick in after about six years, making them a smart investment for the budget-conscious homeowner.
On Vacation When You Are
We also like that the Control-R™ mobile app includes built-in timers and schedules allowing for multiple on/off periods. This will allow the future homeowners of our Idea House to put the system into vacation mode when they’re away and even stop a scheduled recirculation event from starting. Another bonus for our cold-climate location: The Rinnai SENSEI offers freeze protection down to -4˚F for indoor units or -22˚ for outdoor units.
There’s a lot to consider before choosing a hot water heater and size matters: Fuel type, the average ground water temperature where you live, local building codes, and how much hot water your family uses will all influence the size of the system you need. Ask your installer which Rinnai model is right for you.
Click here for more information on Rinnai tankless water heaters and the Control-R™ Wireless Module and mobile app.
And to see the final reveal of the 2018 Idea House featuring Rinnai and dozens of other game-changing products, click here.