Keeping hot water in our homes takes a lot of energy. According to a study performed by the EIA, 17.7% of the energy cost for homes in the US is from keeping hot water readily available. Unfortunately, you shouldn’t just turn off the heating element for your hot water. Yes, turning off the heat until you actually need it will save your money, but if your water tank is resting at less than 120°F you’ll find that your water is at risk for bacterial growth.
Tankless water heaters avoid this by not storing water, heating it as it’s needed to save energy, and preventing the bacteria which causes legionnaires disease through super-heating water and not storing it in large tanks. So yes, you could replace the heating system in your home for a more energy-efficient system. In fact, there is currently an extension on the US government’s subsidy for energy-efficient appliances and fuels that lasts through the end of 2016. This year is the best year to upgrade your water heater. On the other hand, there are a few methods you can use to reduce the amount of energy needed to keep water hot in your home.
Reduce Hot Water Energy Use at Home
Use Less Water. If you use less water overall, then you’ll need to heat up less replacement water when you’re done. A few standards like shutting water off while brushing teeth, shampooing hair, or actively cleaning dishes can go a long way to reducing water use. But there are appliances which will also reduce your overall consumption. Installing an aerator into your plumbing will inject air into the pipes, helping to keep your water pressure as high as you like while reducing the actual amount of water coming from the faucet. Changing out fixtures for low-flow faucets and shower heads will also have a direct impact on water usage.
Insulation will always be the most inexpensive way to preserve heat. From a soup thermos to the hull of the international space station, insulation helps regulate heat and keep or deflect it. Adding an insulating blanket to the exterior of your tank will slow the rate at which it loses heat to the surrounding air. You should also speak with a plumber about insulating the pipes leading from your water heater to prevent early heat losses.
Water heat recycling makes use of the thermal properties of water to reduce wasted heat. By installing a system of valves and pipe-loops around the cold water inlet and the hot water outlet of your hot water tank, you’ll prevent radiation of heat away from the tank while storing what heat is lost in the cold water that’s pouring into the tank. You can’t prevent heat loss, but redirecting it to make it useful has been an effective strategy for decades.
Renewable energy water heating in the form of solar and geothermal water heaters is another method of saving on energy costs while delivering heated water. Of course, installing either of these systems can be a little cost-prohibitive, but the long term energy gains are worthwhile. Heat is either transferred from deep in the earth or directly from the sun. Of course, on cold and cloudy days, your solar water heater will be supplemented by an electric heating element to maintain warm water on colder days.
Any of these methods will help to reduce the amount of money you spend on heating water each month. If you’ve already implemented them, then congratulations, you’re below the average cost for water heating (and likely enjoying the benefits of extra money you haven’t spent on heating water).
Whether you need a water heater repair or a want to install a brand new system, Metro Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning is the service company you want! Call us today at (423) 616-1025!