How To Make Your Water Heater More Efficient

After heating, ventilation and air conditioning, water heating is the largest use of energy in the average U.S. household. By making small changes to the surroundings, settings, and use of your water heater, massive amounts of energy can be saved, helping the environment and your pocket book.

Turn Down the Thermostat

On the average water heater, the thermostat sets the temperature of heated water to be maintained during use. For every 10 degrees you reduce on your thermostat, you save 3-5% on your energy bill.

In addition to the energy savings gained using this technique, you also improve your general safety - reducing the temperature on your water heater's thermostat could reduce the risk of scalding, eliminate overheating the water to explosive pressures, and prolong the life of the unit.

Remove the Sediment Layer

When water heaters do their job, they cause minerals and particles in the water to separate and settle on the bottom of the heat. When this layer builds up, it has massive thermal-absorption qualities, meaning your unit takes longer to heat, retains less heat, and has a shorter lifespan.

Flushing the water heater is relatively simple - disconnect your water mains, attach a garden hose to the bottom of the water heater, and allow to drain. Pour cold water in, allow it to set, and drain again. If the problem persists, consider installing a water softener unit, which will prevent the water from being contaminated with these minerals and particles.

Insulate the Water Heater

Water heaters are what is referred to as "intermittent devices" - they are not on all the time, and have periods of standby wherein they wait for additional needs. During this time, the water in your heater can cool off significantly, meaning if you have multiple people using water within close time proximity, you're paying to reheat heated water.

By wrapping your heater in insulating material, you can save 25-45% of the initial heat, reducing your bill by 4-9%.

Ask Less of Your Heater

While this is more an adjustment to your efficiency than an adjustment of the water heater's efficiency, it can have a massive effect.

By asking less of your heater, such as using cold water to wash clothes and opting for warm showers instead of scalding steaming sessions, you can increase the longevity of your unit and reduce your overall costs.

Intermittent use can have much the same effect - turn off the hot water while lathering your dishes (or yourself in the shower), and you can see amazing savings in a relatively short amount of time.