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How to Save Energy and Money Through Your Water Heater

By HHI Staff

Water heaters at home are not always seen as culprits of high energy consumption. But according to energy analysts, most homes spend about a quarter of their energy heating water. However, changing habits and applying conservation tips will reduce a homeowner's monthly utility bill.


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According to Parramatta Hot Water:


There are two main types of residential water heating systems: (1) a storage water heating system (tank type) and (2) an on-demand water heating system (tankless). Most homes are still equipped with conventional water heating units while recently, many houses are now switching to continuous (tankless) water heaters. The fuel sources for tank-type water heaters are natural gas, propane, electricity, or oil while for tankless water heating units, the fuel options are natural gas, propane and electricity.

If you own a tank water heater, these tips can help you save money and energy:

1.   Insulate the water heater tank with an insulation blanket to trap heat. When you feel cold, you wrap your body with a coat or jacket so you can keep warm. The same thing happens to your water heater reserve - the heat escapes when it is not well insulated. Remember to keep the insulation blanket away from combustion gases. You may hire a pro to do it for you if you are not confident doing the insulation on your own.
2.   Extend insulation to the distributing pipes to prevent water from getting cold as pipes travel from the tank to the faucets and other appliances around your home. Some people find they can handle this task themselves - all they need are pipe insulation, silver tape, a rock knife and a little care, to properly insulate the cold and hot water distribution lines.
3.   Check for leaks. Schedule a regular water pipe check-up. Have a plumber repair parts that leak and waste water.
4.   Consider replacing an electric water heater with a gas-or solar-powered water heating system – if these options are feasible in your area (see sidebar - Go Solar and Save Big?). Electric water heaters are power hogs - the water storage tank consumes electricity even if you are sleeping or on vacation. If you switch to alternative sources of energy – sun or wind – you will stop relying on non-renewable energy resources. You will also burn less coal – eventually helping reduce carbon footprints.


Go Solar and Save Big?

According to Carl Simpson of Renewable Energy Northwest:


1)   Solar hot water heating can satisfy 70-100% of the demand demanding upon cloud cover. The only cost will be the energy-efficient circulation pump costing less than $1/month to run in most areas.
2)   Use a timer for your hot water heater. Some experts suggest you set them up for 6am-9am and 3pm-8pm. You will still have hot water the rest of the time, but aren’t paying to heat the water 24-7-365. Would you leave the car running in the garage just in case you needed to make a trip in the middle of the night?
3)   Whole house circulation pumps are helpful so you don’t waste energy in a long run from the mechanical room to the farthest hot water use. Ideally, these are also set up on a timer or a thermostat.
4)   Use energy-efficient equipment. Older gas and propane heaters are typically 60% efficient with the other 40% going up the exhaust pipe. New tankless and high efficiency tanks can achieve over 90% efficiency.

If you own a tankless water heater unit:

Water heating units that do not rely on storage tanks will reduce your energy consumption. Although initial purchase and installation of a tankless water heater is expensive, you can save money and energy in the long run because of the unit’s high energy efficiency.


Other water heater tips:


1.   Use less hot water. Take showers instead of baths. You will be surprised by the amount of water you save. When the weather is not too cold, use normal water temperature.
2.   Reduce the temperature of hot water. When you adjust the temperature setting or control to a low level, you will reduce electricity or fuel consumption. A well-regulated water temperature also prevents scalding because it makes water suitably warm for bathing.



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How to Save Energy and Money Through Your Water Heater:  Created on January 6th, 2014.  Last Modified on May 31st, 2014


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