So far in the series, we have covered:
- Air Infiltration
- Heating and Cooling (Part 1 and Part 2).
While most people view the water heater in their house to be an appliance they never touch after installed, it might be time to go check to see if your unit is at the optimal settings.
- Make sure your new water heater meets or exceeds the federal Energy Factor (EF) efficiency standard. (Examples: 0.90 EF for an electric 50-gallon unit, 0.59 EF for a gas 40-gallon unit, and 0.53 EF for an oil 32-gallon unit.)
- It is important to keep the system properly maintained. Once or twice a year, drain a bucket of water out of the bottom of the heater tank because it can be full of sediment. The sediment insulates the water in the tank from the heating element, which wastes energy.
- In addition, you might want to invest in a relatively inexpensive water heater insulation kit. Older hot water tanks (except super-insulated tanks) generally are not insulated very well, so an extra layer of protection will keep the heat from being lost through the walls of the tank. Be sure to read the instructions on the kit carefully. Do not insulate over any doors, vents, or relief valves.
- When buying a water heater, it is wise to correctly estimate your needs. Don’t buy a water heater that is too large for your family, but you should consider your future needs as well as your present requirements.
- Lowering your water heater temperature setting from 140 degrees Fahrenheit to 120 degrees Fahrenheit can reduce your water heating energy bill by more than 10 percent.
- Some water heaters now have solid state controls (such as a “vacation” setting) that allow you to lower temperature settings. Look for and take advantage of these features.
- In sprawling ranch houses or in residences with two or three levels, the rooms requiring hot water may be widely separated. It may be possible to get better hot water service with less use of electricity by having two or more water heaters - one heater in each principal water-using area - instead of one heater in a central location.
- Repair leaky faucets promptly. A steady drip of hot water can waste many gallons of water per month, plus the energy needed to heat the water.
- Letting the water run while shaving or when washing dishes by hand is needless waste. Avoid this by using sink stoppers and dishpans.
- Encourage family members to take showers rather than baths. The average person will use about half as much hot water in a shower as in a bath.
- The standby heat loss of a water heater increases with temperature. So, set the temperature control of your water heater at a moderate 120 degrees Fahrenheit, or as low as possible without running out of hot water. If you need hotter water for certain functions, such as dishwashing, consider a dual-temperature system. Such systems employ a central unit supplying 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower temperature water for general purposes, plus a second, smaller water heater set for a higher temperature.
- Locate water heaters as close to the points of hot water use as possible. The reason for this is that any hot water that remains in a supply pipe after a tap or valve is closed eventually cools off and is wasted. The longer the supply pipe, the more heat lost.
- When long lengths of hot water supply pipe are unavoidable, insulate them to reduce losses. Hardware stores sell hot water pipe insulation kits.