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7 Ways to sell tankless water heaters

By Matt Michel, contributor to Contractor magazine and CEO of the Service Roundtable

Tankless water heaters are gaining greater acceptance with the public. They could and should be an excellent source of revenue and profit for you. Here are seven approaches you can take to sell them to customers.

1. Sell energy savings, not ROI:

While 14% of home energy is consumed heating water and tankless water heaters are more efficient than storage water heaters, it is difficult to sell an ROI story because the payback period is so long. So don’t, instead stress the energy savings. Emphasize that a tankless water heater will result in lower utility bills.

Get prospects thinking about the inherent waste of storage water heaters by noting that storage water heaters engage in a constant cycle of heating and reheating water, all day and all night, even when no one is using hot water. Tankless, or instantaneous water heaters only heat water when there’s demand and do it fast. Tankless makes more sense.

2. Tankless water heaters are green:

Any product that uses less energy than another is by definition, the greener product. For people looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, tankless is the way to go.

3. Tankless water heaters are healthier:

When water temperatures exceed 120°F, the risk of scalding increases dramatically. Children and the elderly are particularly at risk. Conversely, when water temperature falls below 140°F, legionella can form in a storage tank. Thus, storage water heaters should have a mixing valve, so that higher temperatures can be maintained in the tank while lower temperatures can be delivered to the taps. Of course, the homeowner will have to adjust the temperature on her own since many codes and regulations prohibit plumbers from setting the temperature above 120°F.

The risk of legionella goes away with tankless water heaters. And, homeowners need not worry about a mixing valve or the greater standby losses from 140°F water. Tankless are healthier.

4. Tankless frees up space:

When storage water heaters are located in a closet or finished basement, a tankless water heater presents the opportunity to open up space if the water heater is strategically relocated. While this adds to the installation cost, it’s a cheap way to add closet space.

The risk of legionella goes away with tankless water heaters. And, homeowners need not worry about a mixing valve or the greater standby losses from 140°F water. Tankless are healthier.

5. Reduce risk of home floods:

According to research provided by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, 69% of water heater failures are tanks bursting or leaking. The average age of the water heater at the time of failure was 10.7 years with nearly three quarters of the failures occurring within the first 12 years.

Even if a homeowner’s insurance applies to the clean-up, the homeowner is still burdened with the hassle and the cost of the deductible. The cleanup is worse for water heaters located on the first floor than basement locations, not to mention second story and attic locations.

Tankless, of course, eliminates the risk of water damage due to burst or leaking tanks. Some insurers will even offer policy discounts for tankless water heaters.

6. Tankless water heaters are more convenient:

To date, most plumbers have attempted to sell tankless water heaters based on convenience. “You’ll never run out of hot water again.” This is an effective approach for homeowners with undersized water heaters. It also works for homeowners with lots of teens in the home.

7. Avoid carpentry, downsizing due to new regulations:

The new water heater regulations result in storage tanks expanding by a couple of inches in all directions. In most cases, replacing an old water heater with a new one will not create many difficulties. In those situations where fit becomes a problem, the homeowner’s options are to reduce the size of the tank, call a carpenter, or replace a storage water heater with a tankless water heater.

Article published in Contractor magazine

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