Water heaters are among the top energy-consuming appliances in most households. Yet, with the right strategies, you can maximize their efficiency, reduce energy costs, and lessen your environmental footprint. Here are some proven energy-saving tips to ensure your water heater performs at its best.
1. Lower the Thermostat
Most manufacturers set water heater thermostats at 140°F, but most households function efficiently at 120°F. Lowering the thermostat not only saves energy but also reduces the risk of scalding and slows mineral buildup and corrosion in your heater and pipes.
2. Insulate the Tank
If you have an older water heater, consider wrapping it in an insulation blanket. This can reduce heat loss by 25%–45%, leading to about 4%–9% in water heating costs. For new heaters, however, check the manual first as insulation might not be necessary or even recommended.
3. Insulate Pipes
By insulating the first six feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the heater, you can increase the arrival speed of hot water at the faucet and save water and energy.
4. Use Less Hot Water
Simple changes in daily habits can reduce hot water consumption:
- Install low-flow fixtures.
- Fix leaks promptly.
- Wash clothes in cold or warm water instead of hot.
- Run dishwashers and washing machines with full loads only.
5. Drain the Sediment
Over time, sediment can accumulate at the bottom of the heater tank, causing it to overwork and consume more energy. Draining a quart of water from the tank every three months can help. If the water contains a significant amount of sediment, do this more frequently.
6. Install Heat Traps
Some newer models come with built-in heat traps. If yours doesn’t, consider having them installed. Heat traps allow cold water to flow into the tank but prevent unwanted hot water flow out of the tank, saving up to $30 annually.
7. Consider a Timer
Electric water heaters can benefit from timers that shut off during night hours or times when hot water isn’t in demand. Though they’re best suited for heaters that don’t already have a switch to turn off at night, they can lead to significant energy savings.
8. Use Off-Peak Power for Electric Water Heaters
If your electric utility has off-peak hours, take advantage of the reduced rates by heating water during these times. This might involve installing a larger water tank or a timer to ensure a sufficient hot water supply throughout the day.
9. Regular Maintenance
Schedule regular check-ups for your water heater. A professional can detect and rectify inefficiencies, ensuring that the unit operates at optimal levels. This not only saves energy but prolongs the life of the heater.
10. Plan for Replacement
No water heater lasts forever. When the time comes, choose an energy-efficient model suitable for your needs. Look for ENERGY STAR® ratings, which indicate compliance with energy efficiency standards.
11. Consider Going Tankless
Tankless, or on-demand, water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. They’re more energy-efficient than traditional heaters, as they avoid the standby energy losses associated with keeping a tank full of hot water at the ready.
12. Look Into Solar Water Heaters
Solar water heaters use the sun’s energy to generate hot water for the home. They can be more efficient compared to other types in certain climates and offer significant energy and cost savings over time. Although the initial investment might be higher, the long-term savings are worth it.
13. Reflect on Heat Pump Water Heaters
These heaters use electricity to move heat from the air or ground to heat water, which can be up to three times more energy efficient than traditional electric water heaters. They work best in hot climates where they can be placed in garages or basements to pull heat from the air.
14. Optimize the Location
If you’re installing a new water heater or moving the old one, place it in an area that’s closest to where hot water gets used most frequently. This reduces heat loss from long pipe lengths.
With the growing emphasis on energy efficiency and sustainable living, making the most of your water heater’s performance is not just good for your wallet, but also the planet. Regular maintenance informed choices, and minor adjustments can lead to significant energy savings. By integrating these strategies, you’ll ensure that every drop of hot water is used wisely and efficiently.