The Dilemma of Technological Improvement

Does the Jevons Paradox pertain to tankless water heaters?

9 comments… add one
  • sam Link

    “Does the Jevons Paradox pertain to tankless water heaters?”

    It might, but I’d think the effect would be attenuated, esp in colder climates, by your skin taking on the characteristics of alligator hide.

  • Jeffrey Boser Link

    Doesn’t Jevon’s paradox require that there be more than replacement going on? Are you saying that people will take more hot baths once the cost of a hot bath become less? Or that suddenly new uses for hot water are going to be suddenly invented in the house?

  • I’m not making any claims. Just asking a question.

  • john personna Link

    The claim of the paradox is that after efficiency gains, consumption will re-expand to exceed previous levels. That is, I should drive my Prius 3x the miles I previously put on my Subaru.

    Jeavons was clever to observe that there is some re-expansion, but ridgid inerpretation (by peakers) goes too far.

    So i’d expect slightly longer showers, no big, and well deserved.

  • All I know is that Baldwin EMC in Alabama will rebate up to $1000 to homeowners to convert back to conventional heaters because of the enormous start-up draw on electrical equipment.

  • john personna Link

    Yeah, electric tankless is not such a win. Of course not everybody gets the natural gas.

  • Jeffrey Boser Link

    Electricity is sold per kilowatt-hour. The Baldwin link just mentions watts, so I’m not sure if it is actually saying that tank systems are more efficient. Just that their draw is high, and everybody taking showers in the morning around the same time would be a problem.

    I really had no idea that people were buying electric tankless water heaters though. I previously thought they were predominantly natural gas. Electric doesn’t seem a good choice, unless maybe tied with a tank-solar arrangement.

  • michael reynolds Link

    I’ve had the tank, I’ve had the natural gas tankless. Either way I took a shower.

  • This is a good article for those considering tankless.


    Since we rarely run out of hot water with a tank heater, I don’t think a tankless heater would cause us to use more hot water. But every user is different. I do think that, on average, some energy savings will be eaten up by more use.

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