Case Studies

Buyers' Choice Convinces Connecticut Builder To Make Rheem Tankless Water Heaters Standard

When Rejean Carrier constructed the model home for Chimney Hill Estates – a 44-unit, active-adult development in Farmington, Connecticut – he did what he had done in all the homes he had built previously. He installed a tank-type water heater. But prospective buyers touring the model increasingly expressed concern about rising energy costs, so Carrier looked into a more efficient option to offer.

A local plumbing installer, Depco Mechanical, introduced Carrier’s company, Carrier Home Builders Inc. of Plainville, Connecticut, to the concept of tankless water heating. (Bender Plumbing Supply, located in nearby Hartford, provides the product.) About the size of a medicine cabinet, high-efficiency tankless units deliver a continuous supply of hot water on demand, eliminating the need for a storage tank and the high cost of heating and re-heating the water in it.

“I decided to offer tankless heaters as an option at the same price as a 75-gallon, tank-type water heater,” Carrier explains. He was surprised to find that of the 15 Chimney Hill homes built so far, buyers have opted for the Rheem tankless units in all of them. “When I gave them the choice, all the buyers took the unlimited hot water. From that point on, and with no one coming back with a complaint, I made Rheem tankless a standard feature for the development.”

Builder brothers: Carrier and his six brothers have been building homes for more than 30 years. Originally from Canada, the brothers now operate five different homebuilding companies in the northeast United States. “I started in 1971 with my brother Yvon,” Carrier says. “Together we’ve built about a thousand houses in Connecticut. Around 1985, we went our separate ways, and we each kept building houses.”

Rejean Carrier is busy finishing up Chimney Hill, which is situated on nearly 40 wooded acres and features three-bedroom, high-end homes ranging from 2,000-2,800 square feet. All of the custom homes have at least two full bathrooms, complete with whirlpools and luxury shower systems. Chimney Hill is Carrier’s first age-restricted development, but it isn’t the first time his customers have mentioned fuel costs. “The price of energy is very high,” he says. “I wanted to use the tankless water heater out of concern for the buyer.”

Gayle Dennehy of Re/Max Advantage of Avon handles the real estate marketing for Carrier Home Builders. She finds that energy efficiency is one of the top concerns for prospects considering Chimney Hill homes.

“The cost of heating water is one of the items they mention most often, in addition to windows, insulation, and doors,” she says.

Like any northeast city, Farmington gets its share of cold weather. Initially, Carrier worried about the tankless heater’s ability to heat ground water and circulate it throughout his houses. “I had big concerns in the beginning,” he admits, noting the homes’ whirlpool baths and large shower systems with their high demand for hot water added to his apprehension. “It took me awhile to make the decision, but I’m glad I did.”

Carrier opted to go with Rheem tankless. “I like to have a brand name,” he says. “Plus, I use Rheem for furnaces and A/C units, and I wanted to keep the same brand in my houses.” Carrier uses Rheem RTG-74 tankless models for all of the Chimney Hill homes, installing the units in the basements.

Carrier has spread the word about tankless to his brothers. Jake, who is building a 94-unit age-restricted development known as Castle Heights in Cheshire, Connecticut, has decided to make Rheem tankless units standard for this development. Brother Yvon is also installing the Rheem tankless as standard in his 22-unit, mixed-use Millard Wood development in Manchester, Connecticut.

The six Carrier brothers have recently begun to work together again. Under the banner “By Carrier,” the brothers are emphasizing high standards for the homes they build through their companies. The newly reunited family business group is considering making Rheem one of their standard brands.

“I’ve already made the decision to go with Rheem in the houses I build,” says Rejean Carrier, “but for the group, it must be approved by all our companies. So far, three of us brothers are using it.”

In fact, Carrier’s positive experience with tankless at Chimney Hill convinced him to make Rheem tankless standard in his next development: a large, mixed-use subdivision that will break ground in early 2008.

“I made that decision based on the fact that I don’t have any headaches with tankless water heaters at Chimney Hill, and all the owners are happy with the product,” he says. “Today, people are more concerned with energy. My customers are happy with Rheem tankless and that makes me happy.”

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