Water heaters can account for as much as 30 percent of your total energy costs. Innovations in thinking about how we produce hot water, such as the installation of tankless systems and solar water heaters, will eventually bring about big improvements in this number. In the meantime, there are steps homeowners can take to improve the efficiency of their existing heaters.
Older tank-style water heaters are can lose a lot of heat unless they are well-insulated. Insulating the water pipe leading to the heater is especially effective, as insulating the first 3 feet of pipe can raise the temperature 2 to 4 degrees. The water tank may also be insulated with a special water heater blanket which can reduce as much as 25 percent of the heat loss. Some models already have a high R-value of insulation. You can tell if your tank will benefit from an insulation blanket by touching it. If the tank is warm to the touch, it probably could use a blanket. This can be a do-it-yourself project, but make certain you do not block any openings because gas heaters need air to work safely. Home Comfort’s water heater installation specialists would be happy to guide you through this process.
Lowering the heat setting on your water heater is, of course a good way to save money. A temperature of 123 degrees is needed to prevent bacteria growth in the tank and dishwashers should use 140 degrees, but most now have booster heaters so you don’t need to set the water heater that high. Check your owner’s manual for recommended settings.
Finally, reducing the amount of water wasted will increase the efficiency of water heaters. Repair leaky faucets and shower heads as soon as you notice them. A leak of just one drip per second can add a dollar a month to your energy bill. Replace old shower heads with low-flow models. The flow rate should be less than 2.5 gallons per minute.
Examining the ways in which you use hot water will help you help you determine the adjustments you need to make to increase the efficiency of your water heater. For other energy efficiency tips, check out our free ebook on home comfort or call us with any questions.