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Along with home heating and cooling, the water heater is one of the biggest energy-stealers in your home. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to improve your water heater efficiency. Check out these six tips to help you stop wasting energy heating water.
Insulate Your Existing Water Heater
Older water heaters don't have the right amount of insulation to keep the water inside hot. As a result, the system has to use more energy to keep that water at the right temperature. You can fix this problem by adding an insulation jacket around the water heater, especially if your water heater is in a non-heated room. A typical water heater jacket or blanket costs about $20 but can save you about 4 to 9 percent in water heating costs. To determine if you need insulation, check the R-value of your existing water heater. You want it to be R-24 or higher. Don't forget to insulate the pipes too.
Keep the Tank Clean
Your water heater is just filled with water, so there's no point in cleaning it, right? Wrong. Water carries small amounts of sediment buildup, which collect in the water heater. If left untreated, this forces the system to work harder (and use more energy) to work. You should have your water heater flushed about once a year to get rid of the sediment. You can hire a professional, which cost between $80 and $100, but you can also do it yourself. Simply turn off the water and power, connect a hose to the base spigot, lift the tank's pressure-relief vale and turn on the spigot. Make sure to have a bucket ready for the water that will be released.
Reduce the Temperature
Many water heaters allow you to turn the temperature higher than you'll ever need it to be. Unless you want to take a scalding hot shower, you don't need the temperature to be at the max. You don't need to set your water heater temperature to anything above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Doing this prevents heat loss as the water sits in the tank and once it is being used. This results in savings of up to $461 annually.
Use Less Hot Water
You can also reduce your hot water spending by actually using less hot water, which can be difficult, but it is possible. You simply have to find places where you can trim some of the fat. For example, you can't stop taking showers, but you can shorten your shower by a few minutes. Other examples include using cold water to wash your clothes, only using the dishwasher/washing machine with full loads, getting low-flow shower heads and fixing leaks.
Upgrade to a New System
If your water heater is old, maybe it's time to get a new Energy Star water heater. Newer water heaters are more efficient and have enough insulation built in to reduce the amount of wasted heat. Even better, if you really want to cut your water heating costs, switch to a tankless water heater. They only use energy when you need hot water. It may take a little time for the water to heat, but a tankless system can be 24 to 34 percent more efficient than a traditional system if you use 41 gallons or less of hot water a day. If you use more hot water (86 gallons per day), the system is 8 to 14 percent more efficient.
Whether you make a small change or a big change, there are many things you can do to reduce how much energy you use to heat water. For more information about water heaters, contact a technician (like those at Mechanical Energy Systems) in your area today. Get your questions answered or request a quote on a new water heater.