Your home’s water heating system is a great place to reduce utility costs. Between 14 and 25 percent of the average home’s energy usage is for water heating, and more than half of that water heating cost is waste in the form of standby heat loss. Follow these five simple tips to curb your utility costs in a major way.
- Insulate your water heater. A slip-over jacket or wrap-around blanket insulation reduces the largest waste of water heating–standby heat loss–by up to 45 percent. Follow the directions carefully, especially for gas-heated tanks. The flue at the top and the bottom drain shouldn’t be covered, and air flow to the burner shouldn’t be obstructed. For electric-heated tanks, insulate the entire tank.
- Flush out the sediment buildup in your tank by draining it twice a year. Sediment hinders efficient heating, and over time it will damage the tank, reducing its lifespan. Turn off the electric or gas to the tank, as well as the inlet water pipe. Hook up a hose to the drain at the bottom of the tank. Extend the hose where it can safely expel the entire contents of the tank. Turn on the inlet pipe and continue to drain until the water runs clear.
- Set the tank’s thermostat between 115 to 120 degrees. The Energy Savers program states that every two degrees the thermostat is lowered saves about one percent in energy costs. Many manufacturer settings are well over 130 degrees, which is hotter than it needs to be.
- Insulate inlet and outlet pipes to the tank. Use a quality pipe wrap found at hardware stores. Insulating the pipes increases the temperature a few degrees and provides hot water more quickly at the faucet.
- Install a timer to turn off the water heater during periods it’s not being used. Set it to turn the water heater back on about one hour before use, such as around the time of morning and evening showers.
Contact the experts at Team Bob’s Heating Cooling Plumbing if you need help with any of these steps. We’ve served residents of Grand Traverse County and the five surrounding counties since 1980.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about water heaters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.