Heating your home can be expensive. Heating water can also cost a lot of money. Most people think about their heating system when they are trying to cut energy costs; however, many people do not think of how much energy a poorly functioning water heater can expend. In fact, according to the website Energy.gov, your water heater costs approximately 18 percent of your total energy bill. Water heaters are the second largest energy expense of your home, coming in right behind heating and cooling your home. Tweaking your water heater settings and changing your usage habits can substantially decrease your energy costs.
Lower the Temperature on Your Water Heater
Go to your water heater and find out what your water heater’s thermostat is set at. If it is set higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit, you should lower it. For every 10 degrees you lower your water heater, you can expect to save between three and five percent on your energy bill. Additionally, lowering your water heater’s thermostat will reduce the risk of burns.
Do you have a leaky faucet? If so, you should get it repaired. A leaking faucet that drips one drop each second will waste more than 3,100 gallons a year. Additionally, if the leak is on the hot water side of the faucet, it will end up costing even more. Your water heater will have to work harder and expend more energy to make up for this loss.
Did you know that older plumbing fixtures can increase your energy costs? If your plumbing fixtures were manufactured before 1992, you are wasting a lot of water. Replacing them with low-flow faucets can reduce water heating costs by as much as 50 percent.
Learn to Use Less Hot Water
Stay mindful of how you use hot water. Take a look at your daily routines and determine how you can save on your hot water usage. For example, stop washing your laundry in warm or hot water and use only cold water, wait and run the dishwasher when it is full and limit the amount of time you spend in the shower to reduce energy costs.
Clean Your Water Heater Tank
Sediment can build up in your water heater and should be cleaned out. Most water heater manufacturers suggest that sediment be removed from the water heater tank every six months; however, many people find that doing it every quarter is a worthwhile endeavor. When your water heater tank is filled with sediment, your water heater must work harder, thus increasing your utility bills. Additionally, sediment can decrease the lifespan of your water heater. Removing sediment from the water heater only takes about 15 minutes.
Water Heater Timers
Heating water when you are not home is a waste of money. Installing a timer on your water heater will allow you to turn off the water heater while you are away from home or sleeping. Additionally, if you live in an area where the utility company charges more for electricity during peak hours, turning your hot water heater off during this time can lower your energy costs.
Insulating Your Pipes
Did you know that insulating the first three feet of your water pipe that comes out of your water heater can save a lot of money? This project is so cheap and easy that you should do it immediately. If your water heater is gas, keep the pipe insulation six inches away from the flue.
Insulate Your Water Heater
Although new water heaters are insulated, older water heaters may not be properly insulated. You can refer to your water heater’s owner manual to determine the R-value of your water tank. If the R-value is lower than R-24, add an insulation blanket.
What should you do if you cannot find your owner’s manual? Place your hands on the outside of the water heater tank. If it feels warm, you need to add an insulation blanket.
When installing an insulation blanket, refer to the instructions so you do not accidentally cover up key components of the water heater.
Installing Heat Traps
Heat can escape around the cold water inlet pipe as well as the hot water outlet pipe. Heat traps can help prevent this from occurring. Most new water heaters have these; however, an older water heater may not. Heat traps are inexpensive and are designed to keep hot water from entering the pipes when the take is not in use. In fact, Energy.gov reports that heat traps can save between $15 and $30 annually.
Recirculating or Point of Use Water Heating Systems
If it takes a long time for hot water to reach a faucet, you may need to install a recirculation system or a point of use water heater. This will help speed up delivery time, resulting in less wasted water and energy.
Energy Efficient Water Heaters
On average, a water heater will last 15 years. If your water heater is not performing as well as it once did, it may be time to replace it with an energy-efficient model. There are several choices when it comes to energy efficient models, including tankless systems, solar powered water heaters and energy efficient tank water heaters.