7 Ways to Ensure Your Water Is Always Hot

Amy Pawlukiewicz
Written by Amy Pawlukiewicz
Updated February 21, 2022
A woman testing the water temperature of the kitchen sink
Photo: interstid / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Does waiting for hot water make your blood boil?

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If you turn on the faucet or shower and wait—and wait—and wait for the water to heat up, it’s time to investigate some ways you can speed the process up. Here are seven things you can do to get instant (or close to it) hot water.

1. Consider a Whole-Home Tankless Water Heater

As the name states, tankless water heaters heat water on-demand without a tank. They have heat exchangers built into them, powered by either natural gas or electricity. As cold water flows into the unit, the heat exchangers heat it immediately, giving you on-demand hot water.

If you’re looking for a solution for your whole home, you can invest in a larger model to deliver water to your entire house. Getting the right size is key here, and it depends not only on your square footage and amount of rooms you’ll be supplying, but you’ll need to consider these factors as well.

Flow Rate (Or Gallons per Minute)

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can measure the flow rate of a fixture by placing a 1-gallon bucket or another container under the faucet, timing how many seconds it takes to fill the container. Then, divide 60 by the number of seconds it took to fill your bucket. 

For example, if it takes 30 seconds to fill a 1-gallon bucket, the flow rate of your faucet is 2 gallons per minute.

Temperature Rise

The temperature rise is the temperature you want the water to be, minus the temperature of the water entering the water heater. You can get the temperature of the water by putting a thermometer into the cold running water flow from your faucet, or you can use an average baseline temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Generally, you’ll want your hot water heated to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which leaves a temperature rise of 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Power Source

Whether your tank is gas, electric, or solar-powered, it plays a role in the cost as well. According to HomeAdvisor, natural gas-powered tankless water heaters usually run around $1,000 to $1,500, electric ones run from $500 to $1,500, and solar-powered units cost between $1,400 and $6,000.

Tankless water heaters may come with a tax benefit, so ask your local water heater installer about what’s available.

2. Research Point-of-Use Tankless Water Heaters

Like whole-home tankless water heaters, point-of-use systems don’t store any hot water and only heat water when it’s necessary. These are smaller tankless water heaters that are sometimes referred to as under-sink models. They’re installed where the individual room or appliance needs more hot water, such as a hot tub or an addition to a home. Under-sink tankless water heaters usually run from $100 to $500, depending on their size and how they’re powered.

3. Check Out Point-of-Use Tank Water Heaters

A point-of-use tank water heater works similarly to a tankless model, with a smaller unit placed close to wherever the hot water is needed. They’re exactly like regular whole-home water heaters, but the tank capacity is smaller, between 2.5 and 20 gallons. They provide instant hot water because they’re closer to the point where it’s needed and cost around $400.

4. Try a Hot Water Recirculation Pump

A hot water recirculation pump is a device that pulls water from your existing tank water heater, delivers it to your faucet, and replaces the water in your hot water heater with the water you’ve been running while you’ve been waiting for it to heat up. Ordinarily, this water would just wash down the drain, but with a recirculation pump, it’s recirculated back into your hot water tank to be heated.

The cost of a recirculation pump is around $200 but can cost as much as $750, depending on the model. This project requires a pro, so factor in a local plumber's price, which is on average $45 to $200 per hour.

5. Look Into Structured Plumbing

A plumber inspecting a house’s water heater
Photo: AlexRaths / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Instead of being in the garage, basement, or other tucked-away location, the water heater is situated in the center of your home in a structured plumbing system. That way, the hot water is never more than 10 feet from any fixture, meaning a shorter wait for your water. You can find these types of systems in newer homes, but keep in mind that installing one in place of your existing system would require an entire plumbing overhaul.

6. Insulate Your Hot Water Pipes

The pipes that carry your hot water from the tank to your sink may be allowing a lot of heat to be lost if they're not insulated properly. If your hot water takes a long time to heat up, have your pipes checked to ensure they're properly insulated.

7. Schedule an Annual Maintenance

If your water heater isn’t running properly, it won’t run efficiently and therefore won’t deliver the hot water you need quickly. Having water heaters serviced annually can also extend the life span of a water heater. Annual maintenance includes flushing the tank, checking the valves, and checking the anode rod. The parts of your water heater need to work together to do their job, so if one part isn’t working, you won’t get the hot water you need.

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