Although you might not think about it much, your water heater accounts for roughly 18% of your annual energy usage in your home. Therefore, it’s a good idea to give some thought to the way you use hot water if you want to trim your utility bills. The good news is that there are plenty of small ways you can trim the energy usage associated with your water heater. Together, they add up to big savings! Here are 8 water heater hacks that will help cut your utility bills.
1. Lower Your Water Heater Thermostat
Just like you can save money on HVAC costs by changing your HVAC thermostat, you can also save money by lowering the thermostat on your water heater. The logic behind this is simple—you use less energy if you don’t heat your water to an unnecessarily high temperature.
Unless your water heater is almost brand new, there’s a good chance it’s set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s long been the default temperature setting for most water heater manufacturers. There’s no real reason to have your water heater’s thermostat set that high. You can get second and third-degree burns in about five seconds with water at that temperature. Additionally, setting your thermostat at that temperature is a waste of money.
According to the US Department of Energy and most experts, there’s no need to heat your home’s water beyond 120 degrees Fahrenheit. That means you can likely decrease your water heater thermostat by 20 degrees, which should save you approximately 5% on your energy bills.
2. Clean Out Sediment Regularly
Another way to ensure that your water heater runs at peak efficiency is to clean out the sediment. Sediment can make your water heater work harder, and this will increase energy costs. As more sediment accumulates in the water heater tank, more severe problems can develop, such as a blockage in the water lines, a clogged drain valve and tank failure.
Experts recommend that you have your water heater tank professionally flushed each year to remove sediment from the tank and prevent buildup. Do not attempt to flush your water heater tank yourself, as this job can be dangerous. You risk burning yourself with scalding hot water or flooding your home. Without regular flushing, you’ll likely start to notice signs your water heater is failing.
3. Improve the Insulation of Your Water Heater Tank
Although modern water heaters feature some robust built-in insulation, they still leak a bit of heat into your home, especially when cold weather comes. When that happens, your water heater must turn on its heating elements to compensate, so you’ll have hot water when you need it. To prevent that, you can buy special insulation, known as a water heater blanket, and wrap it around your water heater tank. Adding insulation will help prevent standby heat losses and lower the energy consumption of your water heater.
4. Insulate Hot Water Pipes
If your water heater’s return pipes are exposed, you can also insulate those to reduce heat loss. This is especially important if the pipes pass through a basement or any other unheated or uninsulated part of your home. Unfortunately, insulating the parts of your hot water pipes that pass through your home’s walls isn’t something you can do yourself. And in any case, your walls likely contain enough insulation to make doing so redundant. The good news is that adding pipe insulation to the pipes you can reach is easy. All you need is some foam pipe sleeves, which you can wrap around exposed pipes and seal with its built-in adhesive.
You can also use heat tape to insulate your pipes; however, this must be applied by a professional. Specific safety precautions must be adhered to when using heat tape, as a wrong move can pose serious dangers, such as a fire.
5. Find and Fix Faucet Leaks
If any of the faucets in your home drip—even a tiny bit—and the problem is a leaky valve in the hot water side of their supply lines, fixing them can save you a bundle. A faucet that slowly drips hot water can waste up to 5 or more gallons of water per day. That’s quite a lot when you consider that the average water heater tank only holds 60 gallons of hot water. So, every time you fix a faucet that drips hot water, you’ll save yourself over two tanks of hot water every month.
6. Cut Your Hot Water Use
Of course, the simplest way you can cut your energy use that relates to your water heater bills is to use less hot water. You can do this by taking shorter showers and by only running your dishwasher once it’s full. If you do your dishes by hand, you should also make a habit of turning off the sink while you’re busy scrubbing your dishes. Or you can try filling your sink with warm water and using it to clean all your dishes.
7. Install a Recirculation Pump With a Timer
If you’ve ever noticed that you spend a great deal of time waiting for hot water to come out of your plumbing fixtures when you turn them on, it’s more than an inconvenience. It means the once-hot water that was sitting in your pipes cooled down, which forces you to wait for fresh hot water from the tank. It also means you’ve wasted the energy it took to heat that water in the first place. A recirculation pump solves this problem by sending the hot water left in your pipes back to your water heater for storage when you shut off a faucet in your home. If you install one with a timer, you can even set it to shut off when you’re not home, so you don’t waste electricity moving water around when you’re not going to use it.
8. Upgrade to a More Efficient Water Heater
Although storage tank-style water heaters have looked the same for the last hundred years or so, the technology inside them has changed quite a bit. As a result, replacing your existing water heater with a new one will help you save significant sums on your energy bills. For example, if you have a ten-year-old water heater, a new one is virtually guaranteed to save you at least 4% on operating costs due to revised minimum efficiency standards enacted since your old heater’s manufacture date. To find out how much you can save, you can talk to one of the experts from Absolute Air.
Your Local Water Heater Experts
For over a decade, the team here at Absolute Air has offered the finest water heater services to residents in Morgantown, WV, Pittsburgh, PA, and all points in between. We also provide comprehensive HVAC services, including installation, repair, and maintenance, as well as indoor air quality, mini-splits, and duct cleaning services. We’re fully accredited by the Better Business Bureau and maintain an A+ rating with them, as well.
If you want a new water heater or help saving money with your existing one, contact Absolute Air today!