- Insulate your water heater.
- Lower the thermostat setting to 115°-120°.
- Repair leaky faucets.
- Take a shower instead of a bath. Bathing uses more hot water than showers. A bath will consume 15 to 25 gallons of hot water, but a shower will use less than 10 gallons.
- Use low-flow non aerating showerheads and faucets. They can reduce your hot water usage by up to 50 percent.
- If you plan to be away from home for more than two days, turn off your water heater at the circuit breaker.
- If your unit is an older model, consider buying a new more-efficient water heater.
Maintaining Your Water Heater
Your water heater is one of your home's hardest working appliances. A little maintenance can improve its efficiency, speed its ability to heat water, and lengthen its life.
One of the best ways to save water heating energy and to extend your water heater's life is to lower the thermostat to a cooler setting. A setting of 120° F provides sufficient hot water for most families, reduces the chance of scalding, and decreases wear on your water heater's tank.
Read the manufacturer's instructions to learn how to adjust your water heater's thermostats, and be sure to turn the power off before opening the covers on an electric heater. Use a thermometer to gauge the temperature at each faucet in your home.
Corrosion, scale, and sediment are the enemies of your water heater:
- Corrosion happens faster in hotter water. Your water heater is built with a sacrificial anode that helps protect the steel tank by providing a replaceable component that sacrifices itself to the naturally occurring corrosive compounds in the water. This anode should be replaced periodically.
- Scale is the solid material that is normally in solution in water. Again, scaling happens more quickly at high temperatures. Scale reduces the efficiency of your water heater by clinging to the electric elements, or by coating the top of the gas burner.
- Sediment is small particles of debris that settle out on the bottom of your water heater. A drain valve at the bottom of every water heater provides a way to drain sediment from the tank. If sediment covers the elements of an electric water heater, they'll quickly burn out. Gas water heaters are also less efficient if the burner is covered with a layer of insulating sediment. If your water heater rumbles or makes other noises, you probably have a build up of sediment in the tank.
Installing Water Heater BlanketsWater heaters use a lot of energy even when you're not using hot water. This stand-by loss happens when heat travels through your water heater's walls, and can account for a substantial portion of your water heating costs.
Most older water heaters have only an inch of fiberglass tank insulation, and most newer ones have just an inch of foam insulation. You can reduce your energy consumption by installing an additional blanket of fiberglass insulation. This is one of the most common and effective energy-conservation measures available.
Water-heater blankets come in kits that contain a blanket, straps and tape. The straps hold the insulation to the water heater, and the tape seals the seams in the insulation.
- Turn the water heater off before installing the blanket. Read all the instructions that come with the blanket.
- Identify the areas where the blanket will be taped to the water heater. Wash these well so the tape will stick.
- Cut the blanket to size with scissors or a sharp knife. Leave some extra until you know for sure how much you'll need.
- Identify the pressure relief valve on either the top or side. Don't cover this important safety device.
- For electric water heaters, you can insulate the top of the tank as well as the sides. Note where two rectangular covers provide access to the thermostats and elements. Cut small flaps in the insulation to provide access to these panels.
- For gas water heaters, don't insulate the top. Note the gas valve and burner access door near the bottom of the tank. Cut the blanket so it is at least two inches away from these.
- Install the blanket so it is snug, and fasten it well so it will stay in place.
- This long-lasting conservation measure will save energy day and night for the life of your water heater.