Whether you’re looking to save money on energy costs or are interested in living a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle, you may be wondering how to make your hot water heater more efficient and utilize less energy. Water heaters are one of the largest energy-consume appliances in our modern households. In fact, according to the US Department of Energy, your hot water heater contributes to 18% of your total utility bill. Regardless of whether you have a gas or electric water heater, there are simple practices and low cost investments you can use to and make it run more efficiently:
Turn Down Your Thermostat
Just like you would with your heater during the winter, or your air conditioner during the summer, simply by lowering the thermostat on your hot water heater can have a significant effect on your energy bill. The factory preset for a hot water heater is typically between 130-140°F. This temperature is far too warm for human skin, and if you have young children, they may be at risk for accidentally scalding themselves. The best practice is to lower your thermostat to the DOE’s recommended standard of 120°F. You can save 3-5% on your total water heating costs by lowering your water temperature by just 10 degrees! If your thermostat is faulty, or your model does not show temperature, use a thermometer to achieve your desired temperature.
Invest in a Tankless Water Heater
You may have heard the debates regarding standard tank and tankless water heaters. Tankless water heaters are the new energy-efficient and high-performance models of old school water heaters that can provide you with endless hot water along with substantial energy savings of up to 40%! Unlike a traditional water heater, tankless water heaters only run while you’re actually using the hot water. Traditional water heaters provide hot water by heating water and then keeping it hot, cycling on and off to keep the water stored in a large reservoir warm for hours at a time even when you’re not using it. On the other hand, tankless water heaters turn on when you turn on the hot water tap, and off when you turn the tap off, bringing you great savings over the older-style tank hot water heaters.
Make Sure You’re Using the Right-Sized Water Heater
Is your water heater the right size for your household? You may think that a smaller water heater is better for reducing energy, but you’d be wrong. Why? “An undersized water heater is overworked,” explains Tom Darling, the Albany and Saratoga area’s water heater expert. “It’s heated too much, which means the burner is constantly running as you’re using the hot water.” That constantly running hot water heater can lead to large utility costs! Instead, invest in a larger water heater that can adequately support your household’s hot water needs. If you find your hot water heater is constantly in use, it may be time for an upgrade.
Keep an Eye on Your Tank’s Sediment
If you live in an area with hard water, like Upstate NY, then you know that the minerals in your water may be significantly impacting the efficiency of your water heater. As water is heated, these minerals crystallize and settle to the bottom of your hot water heater, creating a sediment that reduces efficiency and over time slows down your water heater. Proactively draining your water heater’s tank once or twice a year according to your manufacturer’s instructions can help keep your tank sediment-free and running efficiently.
Insulate Your Water Tank and Pipes
A significant amount of heat (and energy) is lost through your hot water heater’s tank and piping. For maximum energy savings, try insulating your water storage tank and exposed piping so heat is not lost as just-heated water moves from the water heater onward to its destination. Insulation blankets are relatively inexpensive and can have a big impact on your energy bill! Just be careful not to cover the thermostat for electric tanks, or the water heater’s top, bottom, thermostat, or burner for gas tanks.
Install in a Volt Timer
If you have a standard tank water heater, it’s constantly busy keeping a tank full of hot water to your specified temperature 24/7. That’s a lot of expelled extra energy, especially when you consider your household is asleep for one third of the day! A simple volt timer can be installed to an electric water heater to turn your water off overnight, saving energy and costs.
Use Less Hot Water
This last one is a bit of a no brainer—you can easily save money on your water heating bill simply by using less hot water. Whether it’s taking baths or shorter showers, using cold water wash cycles when laundering clothes, or using the energy-efficient setting on your dishwasher, less warm water use means less utility costs!
Have more questions on how to make your hot water heater more efficient? We’ve got answers! Contact Empire State Plumbing online today or call us at (518) 213-9256 for a comprehensive consultation. We are the hot water heater experts in the Albany and Saratoga areas!