Did you know that 18% of your average energy bill comes from heating up your water? Heating water requires more energy than any other household task except heating and cooling your whole home. With costs that high, you really feel it if your water heater isn’t as efficient as it should be.
Inefficient water heaters don’t work as well as they should and cost more money at the same time. It’s a lose-lose. Luckily, improving your water heater’s efficiency tends to be easier than you might think. Here are four simple projects that could seriously help your water heater work better–and save you some serious cash!
Drain and flush the tank
Over time, minerals like magnesium and calcium build up in your water heater’s tank. These minerals eventually settle at the bottom of the tank and harden, forming sediment. When sediment settles in your tank, it can force the system to work harder to heat your water. Eventually, that extra work forces pressure to build up in the tank, causing overheating and even ruptures. You can remove sediment by draining your tank and flushing it out with cold water.
We recommend draining and flushing your water heater at least once a year. Removing sediment buildup will help your heater run much more efficiently. It will also help prevent the problems associated with sediment buildup, which will save you from potentially-costly repairs! Flushing your water heater is a relatively simple project that you can do yourself if you have the right tools. You can also hire a professional to do it as part of a larger water heater maintenance call.
Heat tends to… leak away, especially in your pipes and water tank. It’s natural, but it’s also preventing your water heater from heating as efficiently as it could. When you lose heat in your pipes, you need to heat more water to compensate. The more water you heat, the longer and harder your water heater runs. The longer your water heater runs… the more power it consumes. Insulating helps prevent heat loss and raises efficiency.
When you insulate your pipes and your tank, you’re helping make sure heat can’t leak out as easily. Instead, it stays trapped inside the system where it belongs. Insulated pipes hold heat longer and can even raise water temperature 2-4℉ on their own. Even insulating your cold water pipes can help! Insulating your pipes and water heater is a relatively easy job if you do a little research. Just pick an insulation, measure your pipes, and get started!
Plumbing leaks are always, always more common than you think. They also have a greater effect on your home than you could imagine. Even small faucet leaks waste 1,661 gallons of water (and $35 on your water bill) per year. All that wasted water affects your water heater, too. The more hot water leaks away from your pipes, the more your water heater has to produce. That means it’s running longer and, of course, using more energy.
Leaks that affect your water heater often start on the heater itself. Check around your water heater’s tank for leaks. The temperature-pressure relief valve and drain valve are particularly likely sources of leaks. The temperature-pressure relief valve may leak to release pressure (as intended) or just because it’s faulty. Either way, you should do something about it. You should also check the water pipes themselves, especially near fixtures like sinks and showers. Remember: no leak is “too small” to waste a lot of water.
Lower the water temperature
Many homeowners don’t realize it, but every water heater has a built-in thermostat. This thermostat tells the system how much it needs to heat the water in the tank. The hotter your system heats your water, the longer it runs and the more power it consumes. If your hot water gets hot very quickly or seems dangerously hot, you should check your water heater’s thermostat. Turning down your water’s thermostat will help keep your water safe and lower your bills at the same time.
We recommend setting your water heater’s thermostat for 120℉. If your thermostat is set any higher, your heater loses efficiency as it spends too much time heating your tank. 120℉ is ideal because it won’t affect how you use your hot water. Turning down your water heater thermostat will help you save 3 to 5% on your water heating costs every year. That could translate to a surprising amount of cash; all just for turning a knob!
It’s really easy to forget about your water heater, especially when nothing’s wrong with it. Even if you don’t have complaints, however, we recommend making sure your heater’s as efficient as possible. It’ll save you water bill money now and help preserve your heater for the future. Plus, it’s so easy!
If you need help making sure your water heater works as well as it should, give Mike Diamond a call any time. We’re always happy to help make sure you have everything you need to feel comfortable in your home.