Hot Water Methodology

I’m confused, y’all. Why do we have hot water heaters in the US?

I didn’t think anything of it until I started traveling more frequently several years back, but over the course of multiple years and multiple countries, it has come to my attention that there are other options, and they seem a whole lot better. Let’s look at some pros and cons:

US standard: the many-gallon hot water heater.


  • Um
  • It provides hot water? But then, so does the alternative…
  • Oh wait there is one good thing: if the water goes off for a long period of time, you have a giant emergency reservoir in your house. I’m sure that would be useful for disasters. I’m not aware of anyone who was saved from doom by drinking from their hot water heater, but it could definitely happen, I’m sure


  • Huge, which makes it difficult to install/repair/replace
  • Full of hot water that sits in there until used (and probably some settles and doesn’t circulate much?). Rarely (never?) gets cleaned inside. I’m just picturing sediment and a kinda stagnant environment, I dunno. Ew.
  • Constantly working to maintain water at temperature in case you want some, which is surely not very efficient?
  • If you do run out of hot water, takes ages to heat up another tankfull

Other countries: the little instant heater thingy (technical term).


  • Very small, you could buy a new one and carry it home in a bag and probably replace it by yourself if you had a little technical know-how (or maybe not, but still, they’re small so it would be easier for someone else to replace it for you)
  • Doesn’t store water in a weird invisible closed tank, instead just heats the water you’re actually using as you actually use it
  • Super hot, super fast (sure, the other one is too, but I found it surprising that this one could make such instantly-hot water so I’m listing it anyway)
  • Never runs out of hot water


  • Um
  • Nope, I’ve got nothing
  • I guess the ones with buttons are a little confusing at first, if you’re not accustomed to them?


I mean……….


Why don’t we use the cool little instant ones in the US? Why is everyone dedicating a closet to a giant hot water tank? Or worse, why do some apartments have normal-sized bathtubs but a mini hot water tank that’s capable of filling exactly 1/3 of the tub before it runs out and then you have to wait at least an hour before there’s any more hot water, by which time the water you did have in the tub has long since gone cold?

I can only guess that the little instant heaters must be more expensive? Or somehow less efficient? I would still advocate for them, though. Please vote for my new platform: instant hot water.

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