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4 Simple Ways to Get Hot Water without a Water Heater

By Sophia W. Martin
1.9K views 2 mins read

It was a dark corner of Africa – a bit far from what we call ‘civilization’, but still, things are pretty amazing there. A hot shower was the first thing I missed the most when I reached there.

But clearly, my water heater wasn’t there to make that happen. However, there are alternative ways to get hot water without a water heater, such as solar water heating, stovetop heating, portable water heaters, fire heating, and so on.

Now the question is, how are you exactly going to make these methods useful? And even if you’re not in Africa, why might skipping the water heater might actually be a good idea? Well, that’s the answer I’m waiting to give you today.

How Do Water Heaters Contribute to Climate Change?

There’s no way to deny that water heaters have turned into a necessity these days, especially during the colder seasons.

But every action comes with a reaction; so does the use of water heaters. In fact, they’re contributing to climate change and unfortunately, not always in a good way:

Consuming Energy

Lots of water heaters still use fossil fuels to heat up cold water. However, these fuels release a significant amount of carbon dioxide, along with other greenhouse gases. Clearly, that’s enough to assist in global warming.


An old gas-fired water heater will surely be less energy-efficient compared to the newer models. As they take in more energy to provide hot water, it leads to higher emissions.

Heat Loss

Water in gas burner-based water heaters loses heat even if it’s sitting in the tank. This means you’ll have to cycle the heater frequently to ensure a constant supply of hot water. I guess you know what it takes – more energy use and more emissions.

Disposal Issue

There are thousands of water heaters that get dumped every year and not all of them are disposed of properly. This improper disposal leads to environmental pollution. Plus, the massive production of the new units also contributes to more emissions.

What Are Heat Pump Water Heaters?

If you’re asking for a water heater that will be more energy-efficient compared to traditional water heaters, this is it. Unlike gas water heaters, they shift the existing heat from one place to another with the help of electricity.

For easier understanding, just think of a refrigerator working in reverse. Rather than pulling the heat like a refrigerator to keep things cool inside, it releases the heat into its surroundings.

It basically takes the surrounding air and shifts it to the home’s water tank. The best thing about these water heaters is that they’re 2X to 3X more efficient than the regular hot water system.

What you might not like about this heat exchanger is its higher upfront cost. This is where they might lose to your traditional electric or gas-powered water heaters. Plus, they’re a bit large in size too.

Are There Other Low-Carbon Hot Water Heaters?

You like getting hot water every time you turn on the faucet – I get it.

But you also know what that water heater is doing to the environment. So, the best thing you can do is get something that will keep carbon emissions low.

Such as the following:

Electric Tankless Water Heaters

Electric tankless water heaters work differently than regular ones as they directly heat up the water. This means you need to pile up the water in a storage tank to heat it, as it will provide hot water on demand.

Electric Tankless Water Heaters
Electric Tankless Water Heaters

As there is no chance of heat loss, its electric element saves a ton of energy by skipping the cycle. Plus, tankless water heaters have a compact size. So, you don’t need to free up a lot of space.

Now comes the part you’re not going to like – limited flow rate. Though tankless water heaters heat water instantly, using multiple water outlets can limit the flow rate. On top of that, you might need to go for electrical system upgrades as the power demand will go up.

Condensing Water Heaters

Not all gas heaters are bad and condensing water heaters are the proof. These highly efficient heaters utilize heat from exhaust gases perfectly to generate a larger volume of hot water.

Condensing Water Heaters
Condensing Water Heaters

Thanks to their ‘on-point’ energy efficiency, they keep the energy consumption level pretty low. The same goes for carbon emissions as well.

However, the higher initial cost is something that most of the users are not fans of. Plus, the maintenance cost can be a bit high too.

Biomass Water Heaters

Rather than fossil fuels, biomass water heaters depend on organic materials. Yes, I’m talking about chips, pellets, or logs. They generate heat by burning those organic materials and heating the water with it.

So, calling it completely eco-friendly won’t be wrong, as it operates on renewable fuel. This is also what makes it a carbon-neutral option.

Now, what makes them a tougher choice to pick is the difficulty of constantly supplying biomass fuel. Also, it needs to be cleaned and maintained regularly to ensure efficient burning.

4 Hot Water Solutions without a Water Heater

Obviously, the credit for the hot water flowing through your pipes goes to your water heater. But what if you don’t get the chance to use it later on under unwanted circumstances?

Well, there are ways to get hot water without a water heater too, such as:

Solar Water Heating System

You already know how a solar heating system uses the sun’s energy to heat water. But it’s also a great alternative to regular water heaters due to a bunch of benefits, such as clean energy, low emissions, etc.

Now the question is, how to utilize this system when you need hot water? Well, just try it this way:

  • Choose a spot with sufficient sunlight. Make sure it doesn’t get shaded.
  • Pick a system between passive (natural convection) and active (with pump) solar water heating systems. Also, choose the appropriate collectors from flat-plate and evacuated tubes.
  • Contact professional installers who will mount the collectors, connect the pipes, and install your storage tank.
  • Now connect it to the current backup water heating system.
  • Set up the controller. Do the same for the pump if you’re using active systems.
  • Use the water regularly that is heated by the solar system. Monitor the system’s performance and ensure proper maintenance whenever needed.

Stovetop Heating

It’s a method that has been used all over the world for centuries. Unlike the regular water heating system, this is a bit time-consuming but still effective. This is probably the easiest way to heat water, as all you have to do is:

  • Get a pot that will hold the required amount of water. Make sure it’s free of residues and completely clean.
  • Fill it with water and put it on the stove. Don’t overfill it, as that way the water might boil over.
  • Turn on the stove and keep the flame on medium-high. Keep it on the same level, even if it’s an electric stove.
  • Cover the pot with a lid, as that will speed up the heating.
  • Once the temperature reaches your desired level, turn off the stove and use the hot water.

Microwave Heating

You’ve got a microwave at your home to heat your food, right?

As a result, when you need a small amount of hot water immediately, this is probably the best way to get it. So, even if you don’t have a water heater, you can still manage to get hot water. All you have to do is:

  • Get a microwave-safe container first, something like a ceramic cup or glass.
  • Put it in the microwave after filling it up with water.
  • Set heat to high and wait for 1-3 minutes.
  • Remove the container with oven mitts.
  • Stir the water to distribute the heat evenly and use it.

Immersion Heater

This is an amazingly effective method when you’ve got a big bucket of water to heat up. In fact, in lots of countries out there, immersion heaters are still considered a relevant tool to get enough hot water.

Using this one is quite simple, as all you need to do is follow these steps:

  • Have a heat-resistant container. I’d suggest a metal pot or container.
  • Fill it up with water and submerge the immersion heater completely in there. Make sure it doesn’t touch the container’s bottom or sides.
  • Plug in the heater to turn it on.
  • Keep an eye on the heating process. Usually, it takes a few minutes to reach the right temperature.
  • Once you feel like the water is hot enough, remove the heater after unplugging and use the water.

Concluding Words

Without a doubt, regular gas-based water heaters can indeed take a toll on the environment. But not too many of us are still fully concerned in this regard, though there are so many ways to get hot water without a water heater.

So, I thought of putting some light on that part of this article. I believe you’ve already picked one of them in your mind as an alternative to the current water heater.

So, which one is it going to be?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What to do with a water heater when the water is off?

If the water is off temporarily, there’s nothing to worry about. But if it’s off due to draining or repairs, it’s better to keep the heater off.

Can you shower without a water heater?

Yes, you can, unless the water is too cold for your body and can cause harm. In such cases, if you don’t have access to a water heater, you can try the alternatives to get hot water.

Which are the most eco-friendly options for getting hot water?

A solar shower bag, camp stove, and electric kettle are some of the most eco-friendly alternatives for getting hot water.

Are the alternative methods to get hot water more economical?

Kettles and solar bags are totally cheap, but not suitable for large quantities. On the other hand, solar water heaters come with a high upfront cost. But they’re economic in the long run.

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