2017 Model Remodel home includes direct replacement tankless water heater
for ease-of-installation and energy savings.
Each year, the Model Remodel program takes a home in serious need of a makeover and turns it into a modernized, energy-efficient residence. This year, the project was a 1,300-square-foot home in Woodbury, Conn., in which the owner wanted to spend the rest of her life.
Built in the 1930s, the single-level home was completely gutted to add a slew of maintenance-friendly designs and appliances to keep the homeowner’s long-term expenditures affordable and consistent, assuming a fixed income.
Answering the hot water question
One of many decisions that had to be made from an energy-efficiency standpoint involved replacing the home’s 60-gallon storage-tank water heater.
To simply swap it with another storage-tank heater didn’t make any sense in the context of the project’s energy efficiency goals, as it would consume energy all day and night, regardless of hot-water demand.
Instead, Ben Bogie, general contractor at Built to Last Design & Build LLC, immediately identified tankless water heating technology as the preferred solution. “Our firm has been installing predominantly tankless heaters for the past 10 years because they’re great from a cost and stewardship perspective,” he says. “They fire only on-demand to give you hot water exactly when needed, thereby saving energy.”
Replacing a storage-tank water heater with a tankless model has traditionally brought installation challenges beyond draining and hauling out the massive tank. While storage-tank heaters have top-mounted hot and cold water connections, conventional tankless units have those same connections on the bottom. Thus, contractors usually have to add extra plumbing to lengthen the connections, raising material and labor costs.
EZ as Pie
The Model Remodel contractors chose the EZTR75 tankless water heating package, which Noritz donated to the project, for a streamlined installation.
The EZTR75 is a direct replacement option for 60- and 75-gallon storage-tank water heaters because of its top-mount water connections and multiple venting options, which reduce installation costs. The package comes with an EZ111 tankless water heater, a flex vent conversion kit (with 25 feet of 2-inch flex) and an isolation valve kit. Venting can be accomplished using either dual-pipe or single-pipe (made of PVC or CPVC), as well as the included 2-inch Flex, which can be fed through the existing B-Vent. Once again, these venting options save time and material.
“It’s 100 times easier because you’re not piping down to the bottom of the unit to connect the water lines,” says contractor Bob Lucas, owner of Lucas Plumbing LLC. and the installing contractor on the job.
Lucas was able to install the EZ111 in under three hours. For venting, he ran the 2-inch Flex included with the unit up through the existing B-vent. The simple venting and top-mount water connections were major time-savers. The streamlined installation saved an estimated $300-$400.
Overall, Lucas reports no challenges on the installation. “It was really straightforward. I can’t emphasize the importance of those top-mount water connections enough. Other tankless units don’t have them, and are therefore a hassle to install.”
Creating a sustainable future
Since the installation, the unit has been tested and forecasted to earn the homeowner significant energy savings once she moves in, especially when considered in the context of the entire remodel. Other energy-efficient features include low-flow showerheads and faucets and triple-glazed windows. Thus, while the tankless water heater promises substantial energy use reductions by itself, when combined with the rest of the home, it helps create a truly sustainable environment for the long-term future — perfect for someone planning to spend the rest of her life there.