25 Jul 5 Tips to Improve Water Heater Efficiency
Water heating can account for up to 13% of your household’s energy cost. With that much energy being used to provide your home with hot water, it’s important to improve water heater efficiency wherever possible. The majority of American households have tank style water heaters. In these, much of the energy used for heating is lost during water storage. Luckily there are 5 easy ways you can improve water heater efficiency and conserve water without needing to take cold showers and baths.
Keep the Tank Clean
In tank style water heaters, sediment and mineral build up can accumulate inside the tank. This reduces the efficiency of heat transfer from the element. Draining the tank once a year is an easy way to keep these water heaters clean. Even tankless water heaters can get mineral buildup or limescale in the pipes, reducing heating efficiency. If you have hard water, installing a water softener can reduce limescale and mineral buildup. You can also descale hot water tanks and tankless water systems by using diluted acidic solutions such as white vinegar. This helps to break down mineral deposits and makes the transfer of heat between the element or gas burner as efficient as possible.
Turn the Thermostat Down
Water that’s too hot can also be a source of inefficiency in your water heater. The Energy Department recommends that most homes have their thermostats set to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. For every 10 ̊F decrease on your thermostat, you can see a 3-5% reduction in your energy use and utility bill.
Use a Tank Blanket
Using insulative blankets for your tank style water heater is an effective and cost-efficient way to conserve 25-45% of heat loss energy. Tank blankets can be especially effective for older tanks that might not have strong insulation. You can evaluate your tank’s insulation by checking the label on your water heater. If your tank has an R-value of less than 24, your tank could benefit from extra insulation. Tank blankets are inexpensive and easy to install. You just need to be careful not to block the thermostat, the gas inlet, or the exhaust. You should also avoid using tank blankets on newer, better-insulated tanks because they can end up becoming more hazardous than helpful.
Insulate the Pipes
Your hot water tank is not the only place heat loss can occur. Insulating your hot water pipes means hot water ends up at the faucet 2-4 degrees hotter than without insulation. This can mean valuable savings in both energy and utility costs over time. You can use self-sealing sleeves to cover and insulate the water heater outlets. For exposed pipes, this can often be a DIY project. But if your pipes are harder to reach, it’s best to leave insulation to a plumber.
Conserve Hot Water
What’s one of the most effective and simple ways to conserve hot water and energy? Simply using less hot water. The less water you heat, the less energy you use and the more you save. Installing water-efficient fixtures and aerators, using the ‘economy’ setting on your dishwasher, fixing leaky faucets, and timing your showers can all help to reduce hot water usage and boost utility savings.