Florida Developer Goes Totally Tankless, Saves 50 to 60% in Water Heating Costs

At the new Trafalgar Village near Orlando, Fla., developer Alan Hawksworth has created a short-term vacation rental community that delivers long-term creature comforts and energy savings.

Encompassing 229 single-family homes, 71 townhouses and 140 apartments, Hawksworth's plan called for a relaxed environment for residents as well as local wildlife, nestled in an urban community, yet living in harmony with nature. But Trafalgar Village was also planned as an energy-saving, green community, thanks to its exclusive use of Takagi tankless water heaters for both domestic hot water and space heating.

The cost of each Takagi tankless water heater was roughly $100 more than what was originally budgeted when the plan specified electric heat pumps. However, the projected energy savings with tankless water heaters are between 50 and 60%, according to Hawksworth, who is vice president of Trafalgar Enterprises, LLC.

“Tankless is far cheaper to run, and the reliability is better,” Hawksworth said, comparing tankless technology with conventional tank-type water heaters. “When the hot water isn't running, it costs you nothing—there's no stored water.”

Instead of continuously heating water in a conventional storage tank—24 hours a day, seven days a week—a tankless unit heats water only when the consumer needs it. As long as a faucet, shower or hot-water appliance is operating, the tankless water heater continues to run. Once the faucet or appliance is turned off, the tankless unit stops. This on-demand approach made a lot of sense for a short-term vacation rental community whose residences could stand vacant for weeks at a time.

“People buy these homes, but use them only a few weeks out of the year,” explained Kevin Mays, vice president of the resort division for ICI Homes, the builder on the project. “So energy efficiency is important, because we're not really wasting as much as we typically would with a conventional water heater.”

In the long run, what will really warm these buyers will be their lower utility costs. “Most consumers don't care where the hot water is coming from,” Hawksworth said. “It is not a major concern. Yet, they will save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in utility costs over time with a tankless unit.”


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