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Cleveland HVAC Blog

7 Tips for Energy-Efficient Water Heating

Posted by Paul Wadsworth on Wed, Aug 11, 2010 @ 09:30 AM

We’ve talked about selecting a water heater for your home.  Choosing an energy-efficient water heater is one opportunity for Cleveland-area homeowners to save money on their energy bills.  However, there are many other ways to achieve energy-efficient water heating in your home.

Here are a few steps you can take to improve your energy savings:

1.  Reduce hot water use
You can lower your water heating costs by using and wasting less hot water in your home.  To conserve hot water, fix leaks, install low-flow fixtures, and purchase an energy-efficient dishwasher and clothes washer.

2.  Lower your water heating temperature
You can reduce your water heating costs by simply lowering the thermostat setting on your water heater.  For each 10ºF reduction in water temperature, you can save between 3%–5% in energy costs.

3.  Insulate your water heater tank
Unless your water heater’s storage tank already has a high R-value of insulation (at least R-24), adding insulation to it can reduce standby heat losses by 25%–45%.  This will save you around 4%–9% in water heating costs.  If you’re not sure that you need to insulate your tank, touch it. A tank that’s warm to the touch needs additional insulation.  Often we see homeowners attempt this as a “do it yourself” project.  If you do, make sure that you don’t block any openings on your gas, oil or propane tanks because the combustion process needs air to support safe combustion.

4.  Insulate hot water pipes
Insulating your hot water pipes reduces heat loss and can raise water temperature by 2ºF–4ºF over uninsulated pipes, allowing for a lower water temperature setting.  You also won’t have to wait as long for hot water when you turn on a faucet or showerhead, which helps conserve water.

5.  Install heat traps
If your storage water heater doesn’t have heat traps, you can save energy by adding them to your water heating system.  They work by keeping the hot water in the insulated tank during the off cycle and they can save you around $15–$30 on your water heating bill by preventing convective heat losses through the inlet and outlet pipes.

6.  Install a timer
If you have an electric water heater, you can save energy by installing a timer that turns it off at night when you don’t use hot water and/or during your utility’s peak demand times.  You can install a timer yourself.  Timers are most cost effective if you don’t want to install a heat trap and insulate your water heater tank and pipes.  Timers aren’t as cost effective or useful on gas water heaters because of their pilot lights.

7.  Install a drain-water heat recovery system
Any hot water that goes down the drain carries away energy with it. That’s typically 80–90% of the energy used to heat water in a home.  Drain-water (or grey water) heat recovery systems capture this energy to preheat cold water entering the water heater or going to other water fixtures.  This approach usually only makes sense when it is designed in with the house during new construction or if you are trying to achieve a really low level on energy consumption.

Once you put a few of these measures into effect, it’s a good idea to monitor your savings.  Click here to learn how to read your electric and gas meters, to determine how much you’re saving by taking steps to improve your water heating energy-efficiency.

P.K. Wadsworth services the Greater Cleveland, OH area including cities Chagrin Falls, Shaker Heights, Eastlake or anywhere in between.  To get started, check out our website.

Topics: water heater tank, cleveland area, efficient water heating, energy efficient water heating, r value of insulation

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