Last month we got the unwelcome news that our furnace needed replacing. After doing some research I eventually ended up talking Irena into going with a "Tankless Water Heater", a wall-mounted unit that vents out the wall and heats both our hot water for our taps and the radiators that heat the house.
The installation was a bit tricky, but a few days ago they finally got the job finished. The final product is a mixed bag. On the one hand we feel great about being more environmentally friendly and saving on our gas bills. The unit is much higher efficiency than our old one (from 1977!) and because it only heats water as needed it doesn't waste energy keeping a big tank of water hot. On the down side, it vents out the back under our deck and, while not too objectionable, it is smelly enough that you wouldn't want to lounge on the South side of the deck while a load of laundry is washing. Also, it takes longer for the water to get hot out of the taps. Sometimes a lot longer, depending on how recently the unit last fired up. And the water pressure seems a bit lower.
Still, as Irena pointed out, waiting a few extra seconds for hot water serves to remind us what a privilege it is to have hot water at our fingertips in the first place. Considering she was the skeptic, and could pile on the I told you so's if she so chose, that's a pretty good attitude.