Today’s homes are becoming smarter and more efficient, thanks to the advancement of eco-friendly technologies and appliances—from tankless water heaters, low-flow toilets, to self-regulating thermostats. Homeowner Michael Craig, a huge proponent of this technological tide sweeping the country, wanted to upgrade his own 30-year-old residence in Lake Forest, Calif.
“My wife and I are always looking for ways to incorporate advanced technology into our lives,” says Craig, himself a tech expert and owner of Bytelaunch, a digital marketing agency based in Orange County.
In particular, Craig zeroed in on replacing his storage tank water heater with something smarter and more efficient. “We had been considering installing a tankless water heater for a long time and kept the storage tank only because it had been brand new when we moved into our home,” recalls Craig. “After a few years, we were ready to pull the trigger.”
In the spring of 2017, he learned that Noritz had a tankless solution exceeding his expectations.
An EZ Solution
Craig decided to install the ENERGY STAR-certified EZ98-DV high-efficiency, condensing tankless water heater, designed to replace 50-gallon, storage-tank models directly. His installer, Jay Baril of Swift Water Heater, happened to be beta testing the unit for Noritz. The 0.97 energy factor of the EZ98 convinced him this was a green device he wanted in his home. “Unlike our old storage-tank water heater, which burned energy heating unused water, the EZ98 promised to fire only when we needed hot water,” explains Craig.
In addition to yielding energy savings, the EZ98 would bring Craig’s water heating system into the 21st century with its WiFi capability. By downloading the Noritz Connect app, he could take advantage of various remote functions, such as controlling the unit’s temperature and viewing error codes. “The mobile app was a big incentive for us because of our interest in the latest ‘internet of things’ innovations and smart-home trends,” says Craig.
Finally, the EZ98 unit’s direct-replacement design is intended to streamline hookup for installers swapping it in for a storage-tank unit:
- Unlike traditional tankless models, which offer only bottom-mount water-supply connections, the EZ98 unit’s connections are top-mounted—just like on the storage-tank unit being replaced. This eliminates the need to run additional plumbing lines, saving time and labor on the water connections.
- Venting options are also flexible, ranging from dual- or single-pipe (made of PVC or CPVC), to 2-inch Flex, which can be fed through the existing B-Vent.
Installer Baril opted for the 2-inch Flex for venting. He was also able to utilize the same half-inch gas line as the storage tank being replaced, avoiding the hassles and expenses of upsizing. The five-year industry veteran confirms that its configuration creates the potential for time savings.
“The engineers designing this unit put a lot of thought into streamlining the installation, which is always what plumbers look for in evaluating a new solution,” says Baril, who commonly works with storage tank heaters but was impressed with the tankless unit’s ease-of-installation. “The mounting bracket makes the unit easy to position, eliminating the need for a second installer. The top-mount connections are super easy and look very professional. The defining benefit for me, though, was the ability to use the existing B-Vent, not only in terms of saving time, but also because it means I never have to turn down an installation for lack of venting options.”
Comfort and Savings
Immediately after the installation, Craig reported low water pressure, which was later tied to a problem in the piping system and repaired. For its part, the EZ98 began heating the 1,800-square-foot home without issue, supplying hot water for three full bathrooms, a laundry room and a kitchen.
“The water pressure is now perfect, and the heat feels much more consistent across all our fixtures than previously,” says Craig, discussing the improved comfort he and his wife enjoy. “There are no more worries about running out of hot water in the middle of a shower, and the remote control with the wireless app is super-convenient, fitting right into our smart-home goals.”
The wall-hung unit also delivered one other key benefit: “The tankless water heater uses up much less real estate,” notes Craig. “We keep a washer and dryer in the same room, and now there’s more space to maneuver around these appliances.”
Last, but far from least, the switch to tankless is having a positive impact on Craig’s pocketbook. Since the EZ98 fires only on demand, the gas savings began to accrue from Day One. In 2016, with the storage tank heater, Craig’s monthly gas bill totaled an average of $17.19. In 2017, with the tankless water heater in place, the average monthly bill has decreased to $14.14. Estimates Craig, “We are saving an average of 17.7 percent on our monthly gas bill, largely due to tankless.”
In addition to the tankless water heater, Craig is gradually adding other smart, energy-efficient products to his lifestyle. He drives an electric car; has installed a thermostat that “learns” a user’s habits and adjusts accordingly; and has even considered adding solar energy to his home.
“Where others see a 30-year-old home, my wife and I see an opportunity to evolve into something greater and more sustainable,” explains Craig. “Who knows what we’ll upgrade next?”