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Reducing Water Heater Costs

by Daniel Estevao on April 8, 2016

Tips for Reducing Water Heater Costs

If you own a traditional water heater tank, you are probably aware that it must work constantly to keep hot water ready for your use. (A tankless water heater works a bit differently – and is worth considering if you are thinking of replacing your tank.) When the kept water remains inactive, it creates a process known as “standby heat loss,” where it naturally cools down.

When the water cools, the burner will automatically start up again to warm it – creating a constant cycle. Water heating accounts for roughly 14% – 18% of a household’s total monthly energy cost. It’s the second largest energy drain next to heating and cooling.

If you feel that your utility bills are too high, a good place to start is the water heater. There are several small steps you can take to reduce the amount the amount of energy expended every month. Most are fairly easy and may only require a trip to local hardware store.

The following is a list of DIY tips that you can do over a weekend:

  • Turn Down The Thermostat – This tip is often mentioned when discussing basic water heater maintenance. It’s a very easy method to save energy and really works. Most tank manufacturers set their water heater thermostats at 140°F, but 120°F is a perfectly comfortable temperature. Adjust the thermostat and see how the hot running water feels. It’s unlikely you will notice a substantial difference in the temperature. Not only does this simple small decrease cut costs, it also slows mineral buildup and corrosion in your heater and pipes.

How to Turn Down the Water Heater Thermostat

  • Use Cold Water – While this may seem like an obvious tip, using cold water for most laundry loads (especially during the rinse cycle) and for basic grooming (brushing teeth, washing hands, etc.) will go a long way in helping cut down your utility bill.
  • Drain the Tank – It is always a good practice to drain about a quart of water from your tank every 3 months. Draining helps to remove sediment that can impede heat transfer and ultimately lower the efficiency of the unit. While this is a relatively easy procedure, always make sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions. If in doubt, call a professional to help with maintenance.
  • Insulate Exposed Water Pipes – In addition to insulating the tank itself, consider adding insulation to the first 6 feet of both the hot and cold water pipes connected to the unit.
  • Insulate the Tank – Insulating your storage tank (whether it’s electric, natural gas or oil) helps to reduce heat loss and prevents the unit from turning on as frequently. Be careful to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations which include not covering the heater’s thermostat, burner and the top and bottom.
  • Repair Leaks (Faucets and Pipes) – A leaky faucet may seem like a minor nuisance, but it can waste water and money in a very short period of time. Repair any leaky faucet immediately.
  • Install a Timer – Installing a timer to turn off your heater at night is a smart way to help conserve energy – and could add years to the life of the unit. They are also great for vacations – or any time that you are away from home for an extended period.

Don’t continue to pay expensive water heating bills. Follow our simple tips and conserve both water and energy – while keeping your utility bills low.