In some instances, you will find one of the main energy leeches in the house in your garage (and sometimes in your basement): the hot water heater. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the hot water heater accounts for about 13 percent of your utilities. There are several ways to reduce the amount of energy used by a hot water heater:
One of the easiest and most obvious ways to avoid using as much energy is to cut back on your hot water use. These are very efficient tips for saving money and energy when it comes to hot water heaters, but let’s not forget that the hot water heater also feeds water to the dishwasher as well as all the faucets within the home. Washing dishes only when you have a full load, and deciding to use extremely hot water only when necessary rather than by preference will also greatly reduce your energy use and your water waste.
Lower the Temperature
Although most people prefer the option of having truly hot water, if the temperature on your hot water heater is set too high, it can scald your skin. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, for every 10°F lowered on a hot water heater, you can reduce heating costs by 3-5 percent. Try setting your hot water heater at 120°F. You will find this temperature not only efficient, but also comfortable as well.
Down the Drain
Drain some of the water from your hot water heater every now and then. Hot water heaters can collect sediment buildup that often causes them not to function properly. If you are unsure of how to do this, contact the manufacturer to ensure you are correctly maintaining the hot water heater, or check your instruction manual.
Make Wise Replacement Choices
When it is time to replace your hot water heater, you have a few options:
- Buy an energy-efficient labeled hot water heater. Doing so will ensure long-term savings.
- Consider a tankless hot water heater, which could amount to as much as a 30 percent difference when compared to a traditional natural gas storage tank heater.
- If you are ready for a change, try a solar hot water heater. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, installing a solar hot water heater could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 50 tons over a period of twenty years.
With the hot water heater working overtime in an average house, heating water for baths, dishwashers, showers, and washing machines, it only seems fair to give it a break every now and then. Take the time to make simple and green changes to avoid wasting money, energy, and valuable water. Choose to pull yourself from the hot water and make a greener choice for you and your overworked hot water heater.