Admit it: you don’t think about your water heater...until there is no hot water. Your water heater sits in a
closet or storeroom unnoticed until you turn your shower or bath handle and are met with a burst of unexpected cold water.
The fact is, you should put some thought into your water heater – and your hot water usage– ahead of time. A little planning could save you money, extend the life of your water heater and, most importantly, prevent scalding accidents.
First, realize that hot water is money. Water heating accounts for roughly 13 to 18 percent of your household’s energy cost. If your annual utility costs are $2,000, between $260 and $360 goes to heat water. 54588001
A conventional storage tank water heater constantly works to keep water hot and ready whenever you need it. But the water cools down as it sits, which is referred to as standby heat loss. When the water cools, the burner or heating element kicks on to warm it again in a constant cycle.
What can you do to maximize your water heater’s energy efficiency? Here are a few ideas:
1. Keep your temperature at 120 degrees. That’s what the U.S. Department of Energy recommends. It’s hot enough to meet most needs and reduces mineral buildup in tanks and pipes (which leads to a longer tank life). The 120 degree mark will also save you money. For every 10 degrees you lower the thermostat, you can save 3 to 5 percent on your energy costs. Most importantly, it could help prevent scalding or burning, especially for young children.
2. Take short showers instead of baths. This will be less taxing on your water heater. The side benefit? Keeping family members happy, as no one likes being the last one in the shower and running out of hot water.
3. Wash clothes with cold water. Estimated savings are roughly 40 cents per load, which might not sound like much until you do the math. Multiply the number of loads per week by 52 weeks in a year, and you’ll see that the savings really add up.
4. Turn off your water heater. If your house will be unoccupied for a long period of time — even for an extended vacation — consider turning off your water heater. Your unit uses electricity to keep water warm, even when you are not home. 41026002
5. Install low flow faucets and shower heads. Federal regulations mandate that new shower heads cannot exceed 2.5 gallons per minute. Low flow fixtures are available for a reasonable price and achieve water savings of 25 to 50 percent.
WFEC works with our members to help you make the most of your energy dollars. We value your membership. We value you.