If you only attend one conference this year

If you can only attend one conference this year—the Better Buildings: Better Business Conference is the one

The residential, multifamily and small commercial building and remodeling community will come together December 10-11, 2013 at the second annual Illinois Better Buildings: Better Business Conference®. The conference has a new convenient location at the Crowne Plaza near Chicago O’Hare and attendees can expect to get the latest information on building technologies, strategies, techniques, financial incentives, code requirements and more.

Whether you’re looking to obtain continuing education credits (more than seven hours of continuing education for builders, remodelers, contractors, architects, building performance consultants, home inspectors, raters, LEED APs, LEED Green Associates and more are available), stay ahead of the latest trends, increase your technical skills and code knowledge, find new business opportunities or learn new ideas—the Illinois Better Buildings: Better Business Conference is a not-to-be-missed event. The conference will feature 42 sessions and 44 topnotch local and national experts who will share their knowledge in various platforms to fit different learning styles.
You’ll start off the conference in the newly designed expo to experience the general session. This action-packed session will host industry leaders who will make their best predictions about what the future may hold and help to prepare you for what’s to come. Sessions and live, for-credit demonstrations will be in full swing following the general session. You can choose from 12 different tracks and attend an entire track or mix and match the sessions that interest you most. You’ll definitely want to check out the demos at some point. These reality-based learning experience will give you the chance to challenge the technology and talk with those who know their products best. Finally, after taking in all that learning you’ll need some time to unwind. The social highlight of the conference—the reception on Tuesday night—will give you a chance to mingle with exhibitors and catchup with like-minded colleagues. There will even be a chance to participate in a friendly competition. Then, you’ll start it all over on Wednesday morning.

Hope to see you there. Visit betterbuildingsil.org, take a look at the complete session program and register today.


ZeroStep Certification

Environmental Sustainability () are joining forces to take, ZeroStep™, a certification for home and building accessibility, beyond its current multi-state capacity to influence home construction over the rest of the country.  The ZeroStep™ standard is based in universal design which, according to DAKC Executive Director, David Bulkowski, J.D., is “an approach to creating environments and products that are usable by all people to the greatest extent possible.”


 Twenty percent of Americans have accessibility needs and that number is growing.  ZeroStep ™ helps to influence the design, development, construction, and use of new and existing homes through training, education, design review and third party verification/certification of proper construction.

Sign up

Zerostep 1.0 is now available for plan review and plan certification.  Please review the program Guidelines & Checklist and then Register your project here by answering a few quick questions. From there we will follow up with you and give you online access to submit your plans.


ZeroStep 2.0 Development is underway and will include not only Universal Design but opportunities and guidance on Aging In Place, ADA, Assistive Technology, Visibility and other necessary accessibility issues. Be on the look out for program upgrade by Spring 2014.

Questions? Brett.Little@allianceES.org or 616 458 6733 ext 1

See ZeroStep in Action – Rosemarie Rossetti from the Universal Design Living Laboratory has 1 hour recorded webinar that takes you through her ZeroStep Certified Gold Home in Columbus Ohio and explains the thought behind the design and construction. This is a free webinar worth 1 AIA/GBCI/Nari Green & Potential State Contractor CEU. 

In the News.

featured in Chicago 7 News helping make a home more accessible and therefore sustainable:  

ABOUT ZeroStep ™

ZeroStep™ takes universal design for homes, which is the art and science of creating environments that are attractive, marketable, and user friendly for people of all ages, desires, and abilities, to the next level with the intentional accommodation of people’s needs for their total life span.  As people’s needs change, their home remains accessible and family friendly.

The value of ZeroStep™ is its applicability to commercial buildings, retail spaces and even neighborhood design because it just makes good sense.  Joanne Feutz, a co-author of the ZeroStep™ Guidelines, describes the value as:

“For an architect, builder, and developer, the ability to advertise a home as “ZeroStep™ Certified” and use the ZeroStep™ logo says that you are not only about quality homes, but also about responsible and sustainable building.  ZeroStep™ universally designed homes are a personal or company mindset, philosophy, and choice exceeding the standard perceptions of quality to include comprehensive home designs that enhance all stages of life for everyone.

 For the home owner or home buyer, ZeroStep™ Certification means the home not only meets, but exceeds current standards for residential construction.  It also means they can expect a return on their investment because the home addresses not only today’s needs but tomorrow’s needs, as well as saving costs in remodeling or possibly relocating.

“A ZeroStep™ Certified Home is truly a home for a lifetime,” says Renee Thompson, a co-author of the ZeroStep Guidelines.  She built a ZeroStep home in 2006 for her young growing family.  “I love our ZeroStep home because it is first and foremost family friendly.  It accommodates our ever changing stages of life very cost effectively from babies in strollers, teens on crutches, mom recovering from surgery to grandpa in his wheelchair.  I’ve come to realize that people do not notice our home has ZeroStep entries until they need it.  That’s when they realize the true value of ZeroStep.   We chose ZeroStep because we believe it is the smart way to build.  Why wouldn’t you build a home that works for you and your family both today and in the future?”

LEED Homes: New Energy Pathway & Program Market Share

“Starting with the LEED NC program, multifamily adoption of LEED really took off when the LEED for Homes and LEED Midrise programs were 

LEED for Homes Registrations as of 2013 Q2

launched in 2008. With only 4,000 units participating as of 2009, the LEED for Homes (and LEED Midrise) programs have grown to include over 117,000 units pursuing certification today. Much of this adoption has been in the multifamily market.  Nearly 90% of the units in the residential LEED programs are from multifamily buildings and as far as market share goes, during 2012 over 10% of all new US multifamily units chose LEED certification. “   Read More – Taken from USGBC.org

Based on the National Association of Home Builders Housing Start Data in the Midwest – LEED for Homes program market share has 2.1% of all new housing starts in 2012 including Multi Family and Single Family and was 1.3% of from Jan – May in 2013 (Included a 10K + Housing start increase). This really shows that those who choose LEED for Homes as their path are the top leaders in their field.

Out of the 40 Providers in the country has remained around the 10th for LEED for Homes Project Registrations & Certifications, with over 2,600 units certified and 6,000 + registered. You might be saying so what? What is the points of registration? Registration under LEED expresses intent. First off, it is not free and likely someone will not be paying to register until they have thought about the basic principals of LEED; Energy / Water  / Location Efficiency, Improved Indoor Air Quality, Durability, Waste Reduction, Materials Choice and Education/Awareness.  Most projects that have registered have engaged design, construction and energy/green rater professionals in order to think differently about their project and design for above code success. Whether they certify or not, we are excited about the upfront work and thought that leads to registration, finding the first step to be noteworthy.

LEED Certification YTD 13Q2USGBC nationally has now certified just over 40,000 units or a 3rd of all registered projects. Certification means the project team has subjected it self to 3rd party onsite visual verification and performance energy testing with Energy Star for Homes and the Home Energy Rating Score. Certification is not easy and shows the team has taken the steps to ensure their project is more sustainable and the house will be Energy Efficient, Healthy for Occupants, Built to Last and Attainable by Anyone.

Why are we so excited? 

At we celebrate all certified projects by show casing their accomplishments. This happens through helping set up tours to educate the public, documenting post occupancy success based on utility data / indoor air quality studies and overall comfort and homeowner satisfaction. After following up with homeowners and contractors we are showing others how they could accomplish LEED best practices and ideal certification at an affordable manner.

Anything less would be a failure to support our mission, we are not in the business to just certify homes but to use that certification as a success story.

As continues to pursue and celebrate LEED certification success with our community we are excited to see the USGBC continue to push the envelope.

“Continuous improvement ensures that the LEED rating systems stay relevant in a time when policies, technologies and the needs of the industry are constantly changing. In the last three years, residential construction energy codes rapidly have become more stringent, a trend we anticipate will continue. The updates in LEED v4 (the newest version of LEED for Homes) respond to these changes, and now USGBC aims to update the 2008 version of LEED for Homes by beginning an official update process. “

A ballot proposal is out to for “v2008 that will increase the stringency of the energy prerequisite by roughly 15%, approximately equivalent to the energy performance of ENERGY STAR v3, 15% above International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) 2009 and equivalent to IECC 2012. ” Before a HERS Score of 85 was acceptable on a LEED certified home but this would push it to require a HERS of 70 now starting on April 1st 2014

” Currently, over 90% of all certified projects are scoring lower than a HERS 70.” Learn more here

In order to keep the relevancy of the LEED for Homes program which has given a language to LEED. We celebrate registrations and certification, education and constant improvement is the direction to go.

Also see this report on Michigan


Understanding the Living Building Challenge Midwest Fall Courses

Understanding the Living Building Challenge provides a 6-hour in-depth introduction to the Living Building Challenge. Attendees are the green building leaders in their community: design professionals, contractors, developers, owners, government officials and employees of public agencies. In short, anyone and everyone who can impact the development of the built environment.Living Building Challenge

Workshop Overview:

9:00-10:00 The Philosophy of the Living Building Challenge / Petal rationale + strategies: Site
10:00-10:15 Break
10:15-11:45 Petal rationale + strategies: Water, Energy, Health / Small Group Discussion
11:45-12:30 Lunch + Case Studies
12:30-2:00 Petal rationale + strategies: Materials, Equity, Beauty / Small Group Discussion
2:00-3:30 Breaking down Barriers / Community + Tools / Full Group Discussion /

Learning Objectives:
– Identify the key components of the Living Building Challenge
– Discuss the rationale for restorative design principles
– Understand successful strategies for compliance with each performance area
– Recognize financial, regulatory and behavioral barriers and incentives related to high performance design
– Describe the Living Building Challenge Community resources and certification process

Added Benefits:
– Applicable toward Living Future Accreditation
– Approved for 6 GBCI Continuing Education hours
– Approved for 6 AIA Learning Units
– Morning coffee and lunch included


Ticket Type Registration
ILFI/Cascadia Members, Community subscribers, Ambassadors, Partners, Partner Org. Early Reg. $195
General Registration Early Registration $295

Non Early Bird

ILFI/Cascadia Members, Community subscribers, Ambassadors, Partners, Partner Org.  Late $215
General Registration Late $345

*Registration Fee includes workshop materials, morning coffee and lunch.

Sponsorship Opportunities are available. Please contact development [at] living-future [dot] org for details.


Wed, Sep 25, 2013
9:00 AM – 3:30 PM
Understanding the Living Building Challenge 6 Hour Seminar 
Emanuel Community Center
Cincinnati Ohio
Mon, Oct 14, 2013
9:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Understanding the Living Building Challenge 6 Hour Seminar – Grand Rapids
Herman Miller GreenHouse
Holland Michigan
Thu, Nov 7, 2013
10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Understanding the Living Building Challenge 6 Hour Seminar 
Energy Center of Wisconsin
Madison WI

Our Expert Faculty: Richard Graves

Richard has extensive experience establishing and supporting green building programs in national and international settings. A registered architect with degrees from Rice University and Virginia Tech, Graves was the U.S. Green Building Council’s Senior Vice President of Community. He has over a decade of field experience working on leading-edge green building projects and is a staunch advocate for transparency and responsibility in the building industry.


GreenStar Remodeling Certification Introduction – Free Webinar

and Minnesota GreenStar (MNGS) have teamed up to deliver the GreenStar remodeling certification to the Midwest and US at large. The program is backed by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) as part of their Green Certified Professional (GCP) program and is incorporated into the training.

greenstar logo us

Why GreenStar Remodeling? 

Many looking for authentic 3rd party verification/certification on their remodels find programs such as LEED for Homes, National Green Building Standard, Green Communities as well as any local state program within the Midwest & North East can be cost prohibitive, require major guts, are exclusive based on membership and/or are lacking any remodeling component.

Not anymore  – GreenStar  can certify without requiring expensive energy modeling and kitchen, bathroom, whole house or landscape remodeling projects can qualify under the program.

Take 1 hour to learn about the program navigation, case studies, requirements, qualification/credentialing, up coming courses and how you can get involved locally to jump start GreenStar in your city or State.

Learning Outcomes 

  1. Basic Knowledge of How to get started with the GreenStar program locally in your state
  2. Introduction to the GreenStar Checklist, Manual and Online Submittal Process
  3. Run through an actual certified Green Retrofit from Start to Finish
  4. Know where to get more knowledge for education, training, membership in your state or how to be a local champion

View it Here

Please take a quick Survey Here – When Completed – 1 AIA/GBCI/NARI Green Credit will be given at this time too.


Brett Little, LEED GA, GreenStar Professional

Executive Director, Green Home Institute(). A Graduate of the Aquinas College Sustainable Business Bachelors Program,

Brett Little Image Rapid Growth

Brett has been working with for 5 years now helping homeowners, builders, architects and developers find more sustainable ways  in their processes and verify it through 3rd party over-site through programs like the LEED for Homes rating system. Brett is the Secretary of the Lansing Passive House Alliance, sits on the USGBC West Michigan Board  and a Living Building Ambassador. Living in Grand Rapids and newly married he has invested in a 1920s home in the City and certified it as Michigan’s first GreenStar “Green Moderate Retrofit” which reduced energy use by 50% and improved the indoor air quality significantly. Brett loves supporting the local economy, kayaking, the Harry Potter Series, microbreweries, walking/biking/busing, board games and living the Grand Rapids Dream.

Dan Taddei, Director of Education & Certification @ NARI National


Founded in 2007, Minnesota GreenStar is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, has developed a leading residential building standards and certification program created to promote healthy, durable, high-performance design and construction for both new and existing homes.  An objective, third-party verification system assures consumers that the new home or remodeling project meets the program requirements and is constructed as designed. A whole-systems approach applies the five (5) key concepts of green building programs – Energy Efficiency, Resource Efficiency (including durability), Indoor Environmental Quality, Water Conservation, Site and Community – to the traditional building process.  The MNGS program improves the impact of green building programs on individuals, their families, the community, and the environment.

Webinar: Materials Matter – Design Trends for a Sustainable Future

Wood is an abundant, affordable and renewable, natural resource.  Using scientific analysis through internationally standardized Life Cycle Assessment methodology, the significance of carbon is changing the way buildings are being built around the world.  Greater Logo for Woodworksobjectivity in ‘green’ disclosure is being realized through Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), resulting in greater recognition of wood’s benefits which include durability, fire performance, moisture resistance, and a positive impact on human health, in addition to sustainability.  From six-story mid-rise, to 30-story wood composite structures, to Olympic ice arenas, and wood bridges with 100-year service lives, the world of wood today is an exciting display of creativity and innovation.  Diverse projects from around the world demonstrate and inspire an unprecedented collaboration of materials destined to influence building professionals for decades to come.

Cheryl A. Ciecko, AIA, ALA, LEED AP, CSI, GGP
Midwest Regional Director
WoodWorks USA

An architect for over 25 years and Senior Technical Director for the Wood Products Council non-profit initiative ‘WoodWorks’ since 2008, Cheryl is an experienced and dynamic speaker with a passion for excellence, innovation and informed sustainable design. Specialties include low carbon and sustainable design, green building rating systems, moisture, mold and decay issues in buildings, as well as wood products selection, technical wood resources and forest resources throughout the world.Cheryl is a licensed architect in Illinois, with a B.S. in Architecture from the University of Illinois with High Honors and a Master of Architecture from the University of Minnesota. Cheryl has also studied in France and China. Cheryl is an elected member of the Board of Directors for the Association of Licensed Architects in Illinois and appointed member on the Sustainability Committee for the International Code Council.Topic Specialties: Wood construction, moisture, mold and decay in buildings, Heavy Timber Construction/Timber Frame, Green Building Rating Systems, Worldwide Green Building initiatives, Wood/Forestry Industry & Green/Sustainable Design Solution

Continuing Education 

  • 1 GBCI – General
  • 1 AIA – LU|HSW
  • 1 NARI Green
  • 1 MI Contractor (Code & Green)
  • 1 MI Architect
  • If you need continuing education units for a license in another state, this course may apply. Please consult your state’s requirements.

This webinar is free to review. If you are interested in continuing education credits, you must follow the following steps:

1. Watch the webinar for FREE.

2. Take the 10 question quiz and score at least 80% to be approved. Please also post a comment below and help add to the conversation.

3. Pay the fee below to get your certificate and CEUs. You must be an  member to pay the reduced member fee.

Webinar Pricing

Energy Star V3 Homes – HVAC Lessons Learned – Recorded Webinar CEUs

In this webinar, Ryan Miller, Program Manager of Advanced Energy’s Quality-Assured Professional (QAP) for HVAC program, one of two national HVAC Contractor credentialing programs for the ENERGY STAR® Certified New Homes program v3.0, will present lessons learned from the HVAC Contractor owner/operators the program has worked with during its first year in operation.QAP_Energy Star Homes _ HVAC Know How Graphic Brett

Topics include:

1.    The changing role of HVAC Contractors working in the ENERGY STAR® program.  What HVAC Contractors are required to do and should be doing.

2.    How to save time, money, and increase customer satisfaction by performing quality ENERGY STAR® work.  Tips for developing internal quality control plans and procedures will be provided.

3.    Training crews on performing ENERGY STAR® jobs.  What they need to know, how you can train them, and resources available to them that can decrease their time and cost on jobs while increasing quality.

4.    Marketing your company as a (ENERGY STAR® v3.0 required) credentialed HVAC Contractor.  Tips for setting your company apart from others in the market.

5.    How to evolve your role with Builders and Raters from receiving design plans to having significant input in the upfront design process.  How acting as an HVAC design advisor on ENERGY STAR® jobs, not just an installer, can yield across the board savings for all parties involved and reduce comfort issues.

Target Audience: HVAC Contractor owner/operators currently working in or interested in working in the ENERGY STAR® Certified New Homes program.  Prior experience in the ENERGY STAR® program is not necessary

Recording can be viewed here 

Please take a min to fill out this survey after viewing. Thank  you! 

Ryan Miller PICInstructor

Ryan Miller: Project Manager II and Quality-Assured Professional (QAP) Program Manager, Advanced Energy Corporation

Ryan Miller joined Advanced Energy in 2011 to manage residential new construction projects for utility and other clients from across the country.  As a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and Six Sigma Black Belt, Miller brings significant project management and business process improvement experience to the organization and its customers.

In 2012, Miller managed the development and launch of the first nationwide residential energy efficiency program in Advanced Energy’s 30-plus year history with the Quality-Assured Professional (QAP) program.  As Program Manager, Miller is responsible for the managing the strategic direction of the program as well as the day-to-day administration of the staff and program participants.

Prior to joining Advanced Energy, Miller was the Operations Manager for a home performance contractor in Durham, NC, where he learned energy efficiency improvements and HVAC contracting from the ground-up.  Managing the office and warehouse functions of the company, Miller made significant operational and financial improvements to the organization.  Prior to this experience, Miller served as Business Process Manager for Texas Electric Cooperatives (TEC) in Austin, TX.  In this position, Miller again tackled business and system improvement projects throughout the state, working closely with the statewide electric cooperatives and other utilities to lower costs, improve efficiencies, and lead training initiatives. 

AIA & GBCI CEUs In order for CEUs to be processed we will need a  small donation based on what value you found on the course. As a 501(c)3 charitable organization (view our details), we deliver green building education courses throughout the Midwest at minimal cost and at no profit. Please support us to help keep these going. Your donation to the Green Home Institute may be tax-deductible. Please check with your accountant or tax attorney for details.

Webinar: How I Made a Million Dollars as a Green Remodeler

Let’s face it, if it doesn’t put money in your client’s pockets, or your pockets, it is very likely not going to happen.  Sustainability is just fine as a concept but where the pedal hits the metal is on the accounting ledger. Learn how one remodeler, who refuses to do anything except green remodeling, has built a super successful, industry-leading company, which (even during the down turn) provided ample resources allowing him to take 3 months off each year. How does your vacation schedule look?


Michael Anschel, a nationally recognized expert on green design, remodeling and building, writes, trains, and speaks for various publications and events around the nation. He is the owner of Otogawa-Anschel Design-Build–an award winning nationally celebrated design-build firm–and CEO of Verified Green Inc. which consults with local government, product manufacturers, suppliers, builders, and architects on green building. Michael led the effort to develop MN GreenStar, and now serves as Technical Research and Development liaison on the Board of Directors. Called “one of the nation’s most outspoken green building advocates” by MN Business, Michael successfully straddles the building, design, and green worlds by engineering profitability into sustainability.
Learn about you can get involved in a Midwest Pilot launch of the GreenStar remodeling certification program and trainings. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn how you can utilize a green remodeling program that is cheaper and more inclusive than LEED for Homes Gut Rehabs and the National Green Building Standard small projects program.

Continuing Education

  • 1 MI Contractor (Code & Green)
  • 1 MI Architect
  • If you need continuing education units for a license in another state, this course may apply. Please consult your state’s requirements.

Watch the webinar for FREE.

Webinar: Natural Building Materials in Cold & Wet Climates

HIJY-diningAre natural, locally or regionally sourced, non toxic, bio-based wall assemblies possible in the cold weather climate regions of the US? How can strawbale be effective without causing mold, moisture, and durability issues? Can clay be incorporated into a design and still avoid moisture, rot and mold issues?

This webinar will provide an understanding of two fundamental natural materials: straw and clay. It will also describe material properties and a methodology for using each of them appropriately in cold, wet climates.

SigiAbout the Presenter
Sigi Koko is the principal designer at Down to Earth Design, which she founded in 1998 to help her clients manifest their dreams of living in a natural, healthy home. She translates each client’s vision into a unique building design that reflects their personality & lifestyle, while responding to the surrounding landscape & climate. Sigi’s unique collaborative design process provides information & support that encourages her clients to engage fully throughout the design process. Sigi also teaches natural building workshops that empower her clients to contribute creatively during the construction of their own home. All of Sigi’s projects are designed to function in synchronicity with their environment. Each building relates to seasonal cycles of sun, wind, and rain to provide natural heating and cooling primarily from passive (free!) sources. Her clients enjoy an average 75% reduction in total energy usage compared to conventional buildings. She uses building materials that ensure healthy indoor spaces & minimal environmental impact.
Continuing Education 
  • 1 GBCI – General
  • 1 AIA – LU|HSW
  • 1 NARI Green
  • 1 MI Contractor (Code & Green)
  • 1 MI Architect
  • If you need continuing education units for a license in another state, this course may apply. Please consult your state’s requirements.

This webinar is free to review. If you are interested in continuing education credits, you must follow the following steps:

1. Watch the webinar for FREE.

2. Take the 10 question quiz and score at least 80% to be approved. Please also post a comment below and help add to the conversation.

3. Pay the fee below to get your certificate and CEUs. You must be an  member to pay the reduced member fee.

Webinar Pricing

Tankless Water Heaters Come Of Age: Are They The Right Choice For Your Home?

Tankless water heaters have not been widely available in the U.S. market for long. Early on, the selection was limited; building codes were not always accommodating and finding a good contractor was a challenge. Nevertheless, they gained a foothold and are now a growing aspect of the building market.

Many of the early obstacles to installing tankless heaters have diminished. To be sure, there are still significant issues to be addressed, and buyers should educate themselves before replacing their traditional tank based unit.

How Does a Tankless Water Heater Work?

Unlike traditional models which usually hold between 40 and 60 gallons, a tankless water heater does not store water. Instead, the water is heated continuously as it passes through a heat exchanger between the water supply and the tap. The heating mechanism is only invoked when the hot water is turned on. This is why these are sometimes referred to as “on-demand” heaters.

Tankless water heaters are mounted to a wall instead of resting on a stand or on the floor. They usually require different plumbing and ventilation configurations than a conventional tank unit. Tankless units have sophisticated circuitry, sensors and switches compared to the relatively simple design and components on a typical tank unit.

The Pros and Cons of Tankless Water Heaters

  • Because the hot water supply is continuous, tankless systems never run out of hot water.
  • Tankless systems are much more expensive to purchase and install. A licensed contractor will usually be required to change your existing plumbing and ventilation. Preparing a wall and mounting the unit will also add cost.
  • Because they are much more complex, tankless systems may not be as reliable as those with a tank and may require more maintenance.
  • Tankless systems may last 8 to 10 years longer than a conventional tank heater. Many tank heaters eventually succumb to water leaks and can sometimes cause damage if the entire tank leaks out in a short period of time.
  • Hot water flow rates may be much lower with a tankless unit. This could be a problem for consumers who need to, for example, run the shower and the washing machine at the same time. Two or more tankless units are sometimes installed to get around this constraint. Of course, if you need to purchase two tankless heaters to replace a single tank unit, the additional cost will be even higher.
  • Tankless units generally consume less energy than a unit with a tank. This is because you don’t need to maintain a tank of hot water at the desired temperature for 24 hours a day. The energy used to keep the tank heated when it is not in use is called stand-by heat loss. While monthly energy costs may be lower, they may not necessarily pay back the entire cost of a tankless system.
  • Because they mount on the wall, tankless units can be a big benefit in homes with space constraints.

Which System Is Best for You?

There is no easy answer to this question. It really depends on your personal preference and your budget. Most people fall into one of five camps:

  1. Affluent consumers who are attracted to the endless showers that a tankless system can provide. Some of these individuals may also have multi-head showers or new soaking tubs that would completely drain a conventional tank heater.
  2. Big households that consume large amounts of hot water for bathing, laundry, etc. In these households, the last person in line for a shower in the morning may run out of hot water altogether. Tankless systems can provide welcome relief to this daily challenge.
  3. Cost conscious consumers who can’t stomach the high price and installation cost of tankless heaters, particularly if multiple units are required to meet the existing hot water flow rates. For these individuals, even the monthly energy savings is not enough to justify the upfront cost.
  4. Consumers who are concerned about global warming and want to reduce their carbon footprint. To them, the energy efficiency of tankless heaters alone justifies the high upfront cost.
  5. Risk-averse individuals who have read about the problems experienced by some tankless users. These users may stick with their trusty tank units until tankless technology improves or has a better track record.

Regardless of which system you choose, be sure that you understand how the costs and benefits will affect your particular situation. If you elect to install a tankless system, make sure that you get several installation quotes from licensed contractors and can meet your local building codes.

Written by: Chris Long is a Home Depot store associate in the Chicago suburbs. He also writes for the Home Depot blog. Chris’ interests in household plumbing topics including providing help with a tankless hot water heater and toilet repair tips.