Water heaters are a major area where environmental friendliness and human comfort don’t jive seamlessly. They make it easier to do tasks like showering and cooking, but standard versions use a whole lot of energy to keep water warm 24/7. In fact, water heaters are the second highest energy user in the average U.S. home, according to the federal government’s Energy Star website.
Energy-efficient versions reduce climate impact. But on-demand, or tankless, water heaters are even better. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that tankless water heaters are 24% to 34% more energy efficient for a home that uses a daily average of 41 gallons or less of hot water.
So how does the technology work? When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water runs through a pipe and is heated directly with a gas burner or electric element. It delivers a constant supply of hot water without having to wait for a holding tank to fill and heat the water.
Finding solutions to the wasted energy and water issues is a key mission for Galesburg, Illinois-based tankless water heater designer, and manufacturer Intellihot, said founder and CEO Sridhar Deivasigamani. “We think about saving water, saving energy, and saving space all at the same time,” he said.
The startup launched in 2009 and “looks at this from a different lens” than other water technology companies, Deivasigamani said. He credits the different backgrounds of Intellihot’s employees — from computer scientists to robotics developers — compared with other water tech companies. The diversity of expertise helps produce “technology better suited for customers than people have had for many years,” he said.