Learn how to reduce water heating costs by applying the following simple and easy-to-use tips. Some of the tips require no-cost actions, while others require appropriate and on-time planning and sometimes investments.
The main reasons for running hot water in one's home are for taking a shower or bath, cleaning the dishes (dishwasher or by hand), food preparation, and washing clothes (washing machine).
Energy used for heating water is high right after space heating, and it accounts for approximately 15-20 % of the total usage inside your home, where water used for showers and baths accounts for almost one-half. In some cases, there is a water leak which can also increase your bill. This is why it is essential to consider every step given below, as it can save you a significant amount of money throughout the year.
Consider buying a high efficient water heater. If you live in Canada, America, Europe, or Australia, these appliances that save energy – reduce energy consumption are Energy Star approved and are known as high-efficiency appliances. It is easy to recognize these heaters; just look for the Energy Star logo on the heater.
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If the initial investment is not an issue, I recommend buying the condensing water heater, either tank-type or tankless. For example; Rinnai RUR98 and Navien NRCP for tankless and AO Smith Vertex and American Polaris for hot water tanks. Condensing type heaters should provide up to 96% energy efficiency, while the conventional economy type around 60%.
Buy a water heater with the capacity that will suit your family needs. Don't buy a unit with a lower or higher capacity as it doesn't bring comfort as you would expect and more energy usage.
Locate the water heater as close as possible to the major fixtures to avoid long pipe runs and long wait times for hot water.
Turn the water heater off before you go on a vacation or if absent for an extended period. Gas water heaters with the pilot light always waste energy due to the constantly burning pilot. As opposed to tankless heaters, which work on demand only, tank-type heats the water whenever there is a call from the thermostat, either there is a need for hot water or not.
Avoid utility peak demand periods. Use the timer and programmable thermostats for additional savings.
Insulating blanket. Insulating a water heater by wrapping it into the insulating jacket is recommended mainly for old and low efficient tank-type electric heaters, while for high efficiency is not needed since its foam insulation is thick enough. I purposely said electric heater as insulation on oil or gas models could block the airflow or vent, which is dangerous.
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Heat traps. Most of the new water heaters have the heat traps factory installed, but if these are not installed, see if it is economical to put them on. The heat traps prevent hot water from the unwanted energy loss from the tank through the pipes.
Insulate water pipes. Insulate both cold and hot water pipes within 2-3 m of the unit and sections exposed to cold air, wrapping the foam sleeves around the pipes.
Set the optimum temperature. Today's water heaters are shipped with the thermostat factory set to approximately 120 F. The recommended hot water temperature is between 120 F and 130 F for saving energy, preventing scalding burns, and efficient work. Lower temperatures are, on the other side not recommended due to the potential bacteria growth.
Is your water heater leaking? Check for leaks and fix them. Also, check for leaks on the shower heads and water fixtures and replace them if needed.
User's habits. Instead of taking long and hot showers or baths, try shorter and cooler showers. When applying the soap or shampoo, shaving, or cleaning the dishes, you can save some energy by turning the shower or tap off and turn it on when rinsing. Use cold water in the washing machine instead of hot, because today's detergents work great even in cold water.
Consider using water-efficient showerheads. Check in the nearby hardware store, Home Depot, or Lowe's and buy a good brand with a flow rate of less than 10 l/min. You can also buy the water-saving aerators but keep in mind that these require a different flow rate for various applications (water aerators for a kitchen require a flow rate of 10 l/min, while for the bathrooms, 3 l/min an average.
Install a drain water heat recovery device and take advantage of the warm water going down the drain and preheat the water going into the water heater.
Everyone likes comfort and convenience. With the above tips on reducing the water heating energy costs, you don't have to sacrifice your comfort. The trick is to make small changes in water usage patterns, appliances, and plumbing systems, which will lead to more efficient usage and savings off course.