Water heater repair and water heater installation are often put off, mostly because water heaters last for such an extended period of time without issues,they are easily taken for granted. The quicker you get informed about your new water heater and you have lots of options to consider the quicker your water heater installation can begin.
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In the saving energy fight, the hot water heater is a born loser. That’s because most of us have a conventional storage-type water heater.
That water storage tank works constantly to keep water hot and ready whenever you want it. But as the water sits, it naturally cools down, a process known as “standby heat loss.” When the water cools, the burner or heating element kicks on to warm it up again, in a constantly repeating cycle.
Here are 5 tips to trim your water heating costs:#1 Turn Down the Tank’s Thermostat
For every 10 degrees you turn it down, you’ll save 3% to 5% on your bill. Most water heaters come preset at 140 degrees, which has the added risk of scalding. The Energy Department recommends most households lower it to 120 degrees. That’s high enough for your needs, and high enough to reduce mineral buildup in your tank and pipes.
Here’s how to ensure you get 120 degrees:
- First measure to see what temperature your water is at now. Don’t trust the thermostat. They are often inaccurate. Instead, use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the hot water at the faucet farthest away from the heater.
- To remember this setting, mark that temperature on your thermostat.
- Now turn down the thermostat to what you think will be 120 degrees, based on your earlier measurement.
- Wait at least 2 hours. Measure the water temperature again at the same far-away faucet. It may take a few attempts to get it right.
- Once it’s right, mark that spot on your thermostat so you’ll remember it.
If the thermostat on your water heater doesn’t have a numbered gauge, put it midway between the “low” and “medium” marks. Wait a day, and then measure the tap temperature as described above. Keep adjusting until you hit your target temperature.
Keep in mind that some water heaters have two thermostats — one for the bottom heating element and one for the top.
#2: Use Less Hot Water
One sure way to cut hot water costs is to use less of it.
A family of four showering five minutes a day uses 700 gallons of water each week — a three-year supply of drinking water for one person!
Simply by installing low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators ($10 to $20 each), you’ll cut your hot water consumption by 25% to 60%. Plus, you’ll save on your water bill. That family of four using low-flow fixtures can save 14,000 gallons of water a year.
Also, make sure you use the “economy” setting on your dishwasher, and break the pre-washing habit. Modern dishwashers can handle a dirty dish. Scrape what’s left of dinner into the trash or compost bin and then load.
#3: Drain the Sediment
Tanks naturally build up sediment, which reduces efficiency and makes saving energy a challenge. Draining the tank will keep it running efficiently. And it’s really easy to do:
- Turn off the water and power to the unit. On a gas unit, set the burner to “pilot.”
- Connect a garden hose to the spigot at the base of the tank.
- With the other end of the hose pointed at your floor drain, carefully lift the tank’s pressure-relief valve and turn on the tank’s spigot; water should begin to flow.
Tip: While most manufacturers recommend draining the tank once or twice a year, you don’t have to drain it completely; in fact, the Department of Energy recommends draining less water more often — just a quart every three months.
#4: Insulate Exposed Hot-Water Pipes
By insulating your hot water pipes, water will arrive at the faucet 2 to 4 degrees warmer, which means you won’t have to wait as long for it to heat up, thus saving energy, water, and money.
While this isn’t an expensive DIY job — 6-ft.-long, self-sealing sleeves ($2.50) easily slip over pipes — it could take effort, depending on where your hot water pipes are located. Exposed pipes in the basement are easy targets: Hard-to-reach pipes in crawl spaces or walls might not be worth the trouble.
#5 Insulate Your Hot Water Tank
If you have an older tank, and especially if it’s located in an unheated space, wrapping it with an insulating blanket is a cheap and easy way to reduce costs.
If you have a newer model that’s already insulated, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can get additional savings by adding a layer of insulation. It can block critical components and become hazardous. Check with your manufacturer.
How to Care for Your Water Heater
Keep your water heater running efficiently and reliably with this simple maintenance routine. Hot water heaters work hard for you, providing warm baths, clean clothes, and sparkling pots and pans. So show your water heater some love by following a routine maintenance schedule that will keep it running for its 15-year expected lifetime, and perhaps beyond. Call us (214) 238-8353 for your home service and repair needs.
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