Insulate hot water heaters to make big changes
As we evolve to be more conscious of our energy and monetary consumption, we are fortunate to have some simple changes that we can incorporate into our lives to help us along. Newer hot water heaters come with heat traps and other energy efficient mechanisms to reduce heat loss, but many of us live with hot water heaters that could use a little help.
The first rule to energy consumption is simple: use less hot water. To conserve hot water, you can also fix leaks, install low-flow fixtures, and purchase energy-efficient appliances. Unlike dishwashers, clothes washers don’t require a minimum temperature for optimum cleaning. Therefore, you can use either cold or warm water for most laundry loads and cold water for rinsing.
Hot water heaters often require added insulation. One old rule of thumb is if you put your hand on your hot water heater and it feels warm, you should add an insulating blanket. Insulating your water storage heater tank is fairly simple and inexpensive, and it will pay for itself in about a year. You can find pre-cut jackets or blankets available from around $10 to $20. Help keep the water warm in the hot plumbing lines by insulating them, too.
Check the water temperature of your water heater. You can reduce your water heating costs by lowering the thermostat setting on your water heater. A good energy-efficient temperature is around 120 degrees. Consult your water heater owner’s manual for instructions on how to operate the thermostat. If you leave your home for an extended period of time, turn your water heater down (not off)—use the “vacation” setting or similar low setting.
Consider a natural gas tankless water heater. A tankless water heater heats water on demand, only when you need it. Using a solar powered water heater is another energy efficient way of heating your water. There are many solar hot water kits available.
Take some small steps now to bring down your fuel costs and consumption, and you’ll continue to enjoy the benefits of an efficient hot water system during any cold season!