The only time we tend to think about our water heater is when our shower never warms up or water starts to leak out from the utility closet. An important water heater issue to consider is its efficiency which can impact your monthly utility bill significantly.
Did You Know?
The average US home uses 64 gallons of water daily
Gas water heaters can heat water up to twice as fast as electric
Water heaters account for between 12% and 20% of your utility bill
Water Heater Tips
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, your water heater is the second-largest (Heating/Air Conditioning is the first) expense in your home. Depending on the type of water heater 12 to 18 percent of your Gas or Electric bill is for hot water. The average American household utilizes 64 gallons of water per day If you have a teen (or teens) your usage could be double that figure. At the 64 gallon average, the average home will spend between $400 – 600 on water heating per year. This might not seem like much to some but if you can reduce that cost. (See the energy.gov water heater article)
The U.S. Department of Energy provides several useful tips to save on your home’s water
- Turn down the water heater thermostat. Often, hot water heaters come set at 140 degrees. 120 is often a good setting for many households.
- Shorten the shower. A long hot shower can be a relaxing but can be expensive if every night. Think about limiting
your bathing time save the long showers for special ocassions .
- The most efficient way to shower is to do a quick rinse then turn the water off while you soap up. Only turn the water back on when you’re ready to rinse.
- Replace full-flow with low-flow faucets and showerheads. The fewer gallons you use the lower your utility bill will be.
- Look at your other appliances which use hot water. Use the hot water settings as needed not as the default. Also, if you have had them for 10 years seriously consider replacing them with new more efficient models.
- If you didn’t know, using a fully loaded dishwasher is more efficient than hand washing.
- Leaky faucets add up. A leak as small as one drip per second can add $1.00 to your monthly utility bill.
- Wrap your hater heater with insulatation. This is an inexpensive option helps your hot water better retain its heat. This uses less energy and reduces your electric or gas bill.
- The right fit. For storage water heaters make sure you are using the correct tank size for your needs. You need your water heater tank to be large enough to handle the busiest hot water usage time in your household, but not too large or you will be wasting energy heating water you don’t normally need. Warrior Plumbing and Heating can help calculate how many gallons you need in an hour, and find the model with a matching first-hour rating.
- Old water heaters need to be upgraded. The efficiency of home appliances is constantly improving, so if you have a water heater that is more than 10 years old you REALLY need to start shopping for a new model. And make sure you are investing in a model with the “Energy Star” rating label.
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Time for a New Water Heater?
Here are 5 signs that it’s time!
- AGE: Most water heaters begin to have problems when they’ve been in regular use for 8 to 10 years.
- RUST: Is your hot water less than clear? Or is rust visible on the storage tank or pipe connections?
- NOISE: Water Heaters should be relatively noiseless. If you notice rumbling noises increasing in volume it’s time to start shopping.
- LEAKS: It pays to pay regular attention to your water heater. Catching a small leak can save you thousands of dollars in property damage.
- TEMPERATURE: If your Hot Water is becoming noticeably cooler it may be in need of a new thermostat. If your heater is less than 7 years old that may be a good direction to go but if it’s older than 8 years odds are that more issues will start and you’ll be better off finding a replacement.
Let’s look at some comparisions between common Water Heater types.
Standard Storage Water Heater
This is the most common water heater. It consists of a large storage tank filled with water being kept warmed to a set temperature by either gas or electricity.
Cost: $ (low)
Life Expectancy: 10-15 Years
Pros: Lower Purchase Cost
Cons: Standby heat loss -Energy can be wasted as the water stored in the tank is heated to a set temperature, adding to operating cost.
Improvements: Insulation added to the storage tank can reduce heat loss and lower operating costs.
Tankless Water Heater
These are much smaller than storage tanks and mounted to the wall. They heat the water only on demand so there is no tank full of water that is being kept warm 24/7. Tankless water heaters do have limitations and depending on the size of the home and the locations were hot water is required you may need to install multiple units.
Life Expectancy: 20+ years
Pros: Provides a constant supply of hot water and is 20 – 50% more energy-efficient than storage water heaters, saving a minimum of $ 100 per year.
Cons: A limited flow-rate of hot water can stretch a tankless water heater to its limits. Sometimes the energy savings do not justify the cost of purchase and installation
Optimization: For homes with larger hot water needs additional tankless water heaters can be installed in parallel or with separate connections balancing the hot water load.
(Not recommended for colder climates) These water heaters use a combination of electricity and warm air or warmth from the ground. In warm climates, this type of ‘hybrid’ water heater can reduce energy usage of up to 60%. Upfront costs are greater and these can require more space.
Life Expectancy: 10-15 Years
Pros: 2-3 times more energy-efficient than a standard storage water heater and lower operating costs saving almost $300 per year
Cost: $$$ life Expectancy: 20 Years
Pros: 50% more efficient than gas or electric water heaters
Cons: May require a backup system to handle cloudy days and times of high demand
Optimization: Adding an insulated storage tank that can be installed along with the system.
Tankless Coil and Indirect
These water heating systems leverage the heat from a home’s furnace or boiler. The Tankless version uses a heat exchanger to warm cold water on demand. For this to be an effective system the furnace or boiler needs to on throughout the year and therefore only works in cold climates. The Indirect heating system adds a storage tank containing the heat exchanger (from the furnace or boiler). These can be more efficient but still only work best in cold climates.
Life Expectancy: 10-11 Years
Pros: Lower installation cost
Cons: Inefficient choice for many homes as these work best in warmer climates
Is your Water Heater costing you more money than it should be? Is it heating efficiently? If you are having any issues with your Water Heater or if you’d like us to give it a quick inspection Contact Us. We can service and repair any water heater and also assist with the purchase of a new one.