The Best Electric Tankless Water Heaters

If it’s time to replace your old hot water heater or you’ve decided you want to upgrade to a tankless model, you may be wondering how to choose the best model to meet your needs and budget.  Understanding what sets tankless water heaters apart from tank models can help steer you in the right direction.

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The biggest selling points when it comes to tankless hot water heaters are improved energy efficiency and a never-ending supply of hot water.  Besides the fact that saving money on your electric bill is always a good thing, who wouldn’t love knowing that they’ll never run out of hot water in the middle of a shower again?  If you’ve heard that tankless water heaters are the way to go, but don’t know how they work, understanding their basic principles should reassure you that they do deliver on these promises.

First, let’s look at why they’re more energy efficient than your old tank-type hot water heater.  With tank models, water is drawn into a tank where it is heated to your set temperature.  Once it reaches temp, electrical heating stops, which allows the water to slowly cool, which, in turn, triggers the electricity to crank up again and reheat that water.  How often this cycle is repeated depends on the size of your tank, how much hot water you use, and how well insulated your tank is (a poorly-insulated model will cause the water to cool more quickly).  This means that you’re spending money on electricity to continually heat and reheat water in that tank when you’re at work all day, sleeping at night, or even on vacation for a week.  Tankless models do not store water.  Instead, when you turn on a hot water tap, cold water is drawn into the heater, heated instantly, and delivered.  This saves electricity by ensuring that the water is heated only once–when it’s en route to your faucet.  Pretty simple, right?

The concept of an endless supply of hot water is just as simple.  If you have a tank model, how much hot water you can get is limited by the size of your tank.  Too many people showering (at once or in succession), washing dishes, or doing laundry can result in the hot water in your tank being used quicker than it can keep up with heating new water.  Since a tankless model heats water on demand as it flows through the unit, you can run the hot water all day and never run out.  If you live in a busy household and are tired of having to coordinate hot-water jobs or, worse yet, tired of being the one who finds out–the hard way–that the hot water’s all gone, this feature might be worth its weight in gold!

While tankless hot water heaters absolutely do save electricity and provide a limitless supply of hot water, there are a couple of things that can cause problems for buyers who haven’t done enough homework.  One thing that a lot of people misunderstand is that the fact that tankless water heaters heat water on demand does not mean that hot water delivery suddenly becomes instantaneous.  How long it takes hot water to reach your faucet still depends entirely on how far away that faucet is from the water heater.  The other big misconception among some is that a tankless hot water heater will allow you to successfully run all of the hot water applications in your home at once.  You can certainly run multiple applications at once, but many models will lose some water pressure if the demand on the unit is too great.  When shopping for a tankless water heater, make sure you understand any prospective model’s max load.  Larger units will handle more water more quickly, but have price tags that reflect their added power.  If seamlessly running multiple hot water applications at once is a priority, you might consider running two or more units parallel to one another.

When all is said and done, tankless hot water heaters can definitely save you money and give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’ll never run out of hot water again.

 

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Choosing the Perfect Kitchen Floor

Finding new floors for your kitchen can be exciting.  With so many flooring types from which to choose and so much riding on your decision, it can also be overwhelming.  You might feel pressured by friends, magazines, and salespeople to choose the “hottest” new floors.  You might feel pressured by your budget to find something reasonably priced.  You probably already know you don’t want to have to do this again any time soon, so there’s pressure to get it right the first time.  While all of these things are sure to play some part in your decision-making process, making sure your own style and needs stay front and center is the key to helping you make the best choice for you.

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Establishing a firm max budget is a good place to start.  There’s not really any point in considering options that you simply can’t afford.  Falling in love with one floor or another and then realizing it’s absolutely out of your price range can be heartbreaking and make it harder to be truly happy with a more affordable style since part of you will feel like you’re settling for a second-best option.  If you have the luxury of an unlimited budget, don’t make the mistake of overlooking all lower-priced options.  Being convinced that more expensive is better may lead to you missing out on your perfect floor and being able to spend that extra money elsewhere.

Once you’ve established a budget, consider how much time you’ll be spending in the kitchen.  If your kitchen is the busiest room in the house, as it is for so many of us, comfort and durability should be top priorities.  If you spend a lot of time prepping and cooking, you might want flooring that’s a little more resilient, making it more comfortable for long periods of standing.  Tile and marble are the toughest on feet; woods and laminates are generally a little more forgiving.  Whatever type you choose, kitchen rugs or mats can add to the comfort level and be an inexpensive way to add a bit of color that can change the look of your floors from one season to the next.  Since busy kitchens tend to see lots of messes, finding easy-to-clean floors can be crucial to making sure you don’t regret your choice.  In addition to being easy to clean, good kitchen floors should be water resistant and resist staining and chipping.  Nobody wants to see their beautiful new floor “ruined” when somebody drops the heavy lasagna pan, leaving a tomato-colored stain and matching divot in the middle of the kitchen.

Another factor to think about is safety.  If you’ve got kids known for running through the kitchen, or have had to do it yourself when you smell something burning, be sure to look for nonslip floors.  Floors rated as nonslip when they’re dry are also a little safer when wet.

Once you’ve got the functional issues figured out, all that’s left is to decide what you think will look best in your kitchen.  Lighter floors can make a small kitchen look bigger.  Darker ones can make your kitchen seem cozier and might show a little less dirt.  Let your personal style and your vision of your kitchen determine whether you want your new floors to be the star of the show or a solid, if more subtle, supporting player.

How to Choose the Right Kitchen Cabinets for You

If you’ve decided your kitchen needs a minor facelift or a complete remodel, choosing the right cabinets should be a top priority.  After all, the cabinets account for a huge part of your kitchen’s appearance, and no feature serves a greater function.  The most beautiful cabinets may cost more but be far less valuable than cabinets that offer the best and most efficient storage.  The good news is that more manufacturers are offering the kind of high quality cabinetry that was once reserved for high-end budgets.  Given that new cabinets can account for nearly half of your reno budget, they should definitely be seen as an investment worthy of serious consideration.  Well-chosen cabinets can even be timeless enough to survive future kitchen updates.

The first thing to think about is whether you actually need a whole new set of cabinets or if you could refinish or reface your existing ones.  Refinishing or refacing can cut your project cost by half, even more.  If you like the current configuration, storage capacity, and overall organization of your current cabinets, but don’t like the way they look, redoing them can be a moneysaving way to get the updated look you want without having to worry about finding cabinets that work as well your current ones.  Refinishing cabinets can be as simple as giving them a good cleaning, light sanding, and a couple coats of paint or stain.  Remove doors, drawers, and hardware to ensure the most thorough cleaning and coverage.  Refacing involves actually replacing doors and drawer fronts and, if painting or staining won’t work, adding a new veneer to cabinet framework.  Consider replacing old hardware and cabinet and drawer pulls, too, to further elevate your new look.

If you decide that replacing is preferable to refinishing, you’ll have three basic options for new cabinets:  stock, custom, or semi-custom.  Stock models are generally the least expensive.  They’re available in the most commonly found sizes and configurations and usually offer more limited color and finish options.  Some arrive ready to hang; others will require some assembly.  If your kitchen was custom built, or if your remodel involves completely reconfiguring your kitchen, you could have a hard time finding appropriate stock cabinets to fit your space.  Custom cabinets, as the name suggests, are specifically built for your kitchen.  You’ll want to have the kitchen professionally measured and work with the designer to achieve your desired look and functionality.  Naturally, custom cabinets are the most expensive option, though simpler constructs could come in at a cost comparable to higher-end “off the shelf” versions.  Lastly, semi-custom cabinets are a blend of stock and custom.  The cabinets are pre-built, but available in customizable configurations.  Semi-custom cabinets don’t offer the endless range of finishes that custom systems do, but generally do offer more options than stock cabinets.

When considering the look of your new cabinet doors, you can choose a raised framed or more streamlined inset frame.  The raised frame offers a more textured look, but remember that these frames also offer additional places for greasy kitchen smoke and dust to collect. With quality cabinets, the facings are strictly a cosmetic consideration that depends on your personal taste and the overall look you’re aiming to achieve.  

Since you want your new investment to stand the test of time, make sure you only consider well-constructed cabinets made of high-quality materials.  Solid wood cabinets aren’t always the least expensive, but they are almost always the sturdiest.  If you opt for particleboard or MDF construction, make sure you know what warranties are included and what, if any, restrictions on use or weight are listed by the manufacturer.

When it comes to special features, an increasing number of manufacturers are including more slide-out shelves and lazy Susans to help maximize storage space and ease of access.  You can even find models, usually on the higher end of the budget spectrum, that feature “quiet close” drawers and doors.  You’ll usually pay more for added bells and whistles, but given the importance of cabinetry to the overall look and function of your kitchen, it’s worth doing the homework to make sure you’re happy with your investment.