Got a Water Heater? Tips on How to Save Energy

Got a Water Heater? Tips on How to Save Energy
February 28, 2013 Lorelie
how to save energy

How to Save Energy

As most of us would know, a typical water heater unit eats up a whole lot of energy.  Therefore, when it comes to the possibilities of saving energy, one of the appliances that you will never think of that could do that would be a water heater unit.

In many areas in the United States, the most commonly used water heater unit would be the traditional tank-type water heater.  This type of water heater is normally located in the basement and it keeps the water hot and ready to use whenever you need it.  However, as the water sits, it tends to cool down naturally, which is otherwise known as standby heat loss.  By the time the water fully cools down, the heating element or the burner activates in order to warm it up again, and this cycle regularly goes on in a repeating manner.

In order to significantly lower your household’s total energy costs, below are some tips on how you could increase its efficiency and also on how to save energy while still enjoying the benefits of using your water heater:

1.  Do install fixtures that are considered to be low-flow.  A surefire method on how to significantly cut hot water consumption costs is to simply use less of it.  Let’s say for example that a family of five utilizes about 700 gallons of hot water in a week.  By installing low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators, one can significantly cut down on hot water consumption costs by 25% up to a whopping 60%.  For instance, one can save $200 off the average US household water bill of $500.  Additionally, ensure that you use the “eco” setting of your clothes washer and dishwasher, and discontinue the habit of pre-washing.  The latest versions of dishwashers nowadays can handle a dirty dish well.  Just scrape the leftovers (either into a container or into the trash bin) and then load the dishes.

2.  Wrap your water heater unit with a blanket.  In the wintertime, your water heater unit actually requires a blanket in order to keep warm, most especially if it is situated in a somewhat cold space.  A typical fiberglass insulating blanket can significantly cut down heat loss by about 25% up to 40%.  This saves you 5% up to 10% if you have a typical water-heating bill of $300.  You may hesitate to do this, but insulating blankets are fortunately very easy to install and are quite inexpensive.  They usually cost about $30 each.  When wrapping your water heater unit with a blanket for the purpose of saving energy, do be careful not to block the air inlet and exhaust (if you have a gas water heater unit) or the thermostat (if you have an electric water heater unit).  Before attempting to wrap your water heater unit with the use of a blanket, check to see if it already has one.  Most new versions of water heaters nowadays already contain insulating foam, which renders a blanket unnecessary and maybe even dangerous as it can block vital components of the unit.  It is advisable to first ask your unit’s manufacturer to make sure if your water heater unit requires a separate blanket or not.

3.  Drain the tank.  Water heater tanks obviously build up sediments, which significantly minimizes the water heater’s efficiency, therefore making it difficult to save energy.  By regularly draining the tank, you can save energy.  To do this, just turn off the water and the power to the water heater unit (if you have a gas-powered water heater, just set the burner to “pilot”).  Attach a garden hose to the spigot at the bottom of the tank.  With the other end of the garden hose aimed at the floor drain, carefully lift up the tank’s pressure relief valve and then turn on the spigot.  The water should start to flow out.  While lots of manufacturers suggest that you ought to drain our tank about once or twice per year, this means that you do not necessarily have to drain it completely.  As a matter of fact, most homeowners drain less water more often, about a quart every 2 to 3 months.

4.  Check the temperature of your water heater unit.  Initially, if your water heater unit just came out fresh from the factory, its settings will normally be set high.  For about every 10 degrees that you turn the temperature setting down, you are guaranteed to save as much as 3% to 5% on your energy bill.  A temperature setting of 120 to 140 degrees is just about hot enough as one can tolerate.  Just remember to not go below 120 degrees, because this could result to bacteria growing inside your tank, and of course you do not want that to happen.  If in case the thermostat on your water heater unit does not possess a numbered gauge, set it midway between the “medium” and “low” indicators.  Simply wait for about a day and then measure the temperature of the tap water with a thermometer that is used for cooking.  Just keep on adjusting it until you hit your desired temperature.

5.  Insulate hot-water pipes that are exposed.  Just like what was discussed in wrapping a blanket to the water heater tank, you can reduce standby heat loss by wrapping insulation around hot-water pipes as well.  When this is done, the water that arrives at the tap will tend to be 2 to 4 degrees warmer.  This results to you not having to wait long for the water to heat up, which in turn saves you water, energy and money.  Self-sealing sleeves that are 6 feet long and can easily be slipped over pipes are what you will need to insulate the pipes.  While insulating hot-water pipes is not very expensive, they can really take some effort to install, depending on where your hot-water pipes are situated.  Hard-to-reach hot-water pipes located in walls or crawl spaces will considerably take too much of your time, whereas exposed pipes such as those in the basement are a fairly easy target to work on.

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