In most homes around the globe, hot water heating is done the old fashion way – a continually heated enclosed tank of water, idly standing by, just waiting for us to turn on the faucet. Today, there are many ways to save energy heating hot water.
The average water heating unit has 60 gallons of hot water ready for use 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year – even when you are not home. The unit is constantly working to provide hot water, hour after hour, day after day. Basically, it is purgatory for any appliance. There must be ways to save energy heating hot water.
According to government sources, heating water is responsible for 14-25 percent of household energy use. The next time you are using hot water (laundry – 90% of required energy is used to heat water) consider how much energy is being used.
Taking another notch out of you and your family’s carbon footprint and reducing your consumption of fossil fuels can be realized by better managing your current hot water heating unit or switching it out to a smarter more updated water heater. If you go swap-out for a cheap new unit, you’ll pay later in higher energy cost, higher consumption, and a larger on-going carbon footprint. A little incremental investment now will go a long way.
Ways To Save Energy Heating Hot Water:
Seasonal Adjustment – In the warmer months, with warmer overall temperature, hot-hot showers really aren’t as needed. Its more comfortable to take cooler temperature showers. So, in late spring, dial back your heaters temperature gauge a few notches. Experiment to see how low your room mates or family will allow you to turn it down.
Vacation Mode – Many heaters have a vacation setting. Set it to that before you walk out the door.
Tankless Water Heaters – A tankless water (or on-demand) heater is triggered only when it senses that hot water is being demanded. Since it has no, or a very small, storage tank, all the energy consumed keeping the water hot during standby mode is eliminated. These water heaters cost between $800-$1200. From our experience, some electric tankless models work best in climates closer to the equator because they have difficulty changing the water temperature from really cold to a comfortable shower temperature during the coldest months.
During the coldest days, the ground temperature drops and chills the water that comes into your house – bringing it in at a lower temperature than normal. So, the heater works harder and consumer more energy to raise the temperature. All this has to be done while the water rushes past the heating eliminates.
Engineers refer to the change as the delta, and apparently heaters are rated by the delta.
Green Blizzard (based in Washington D.C.) had first-hand experience installing an electric on-demand, tankless water heater and found that on the really, really cold winter days, it just wasn’t able to raise the water temperature to the normal shower temperature of 105. N
Needless to say, it was a brisk shower on the coldest of days – not the most desirable way to start or end your day. In our case, the ground temperature was coming in at 35-36 degrees and only getting the heater to 95-100 degrees, a few degrees cooler than the typical shower temperature of 105.
So be mindful of the rated heating delta capacity before you purchase. Propane or gas heaters apparently do a better job raising the temperature on the coldest days.
Insulation Blanket – If the water heater feels warm to the touch, this means that it is requiring more energy to deliver hot water because heat is escaping from it. Insulate your water heater is with a water heater blanket that you can by at most hardware stores or order online. Water heater insulation jackets can reduce the amount of energy necessary to heat the cold water by as much as 10% and standby heat loss by 45%. Not every water heater is compatible with an insulation blanket. As a result always read unit warnings before making any changes.
Water Heater Timer – Installing a water heater timer allows the water heater to only be in use during certain times of the day. It is recommended that the timer is set to turn the water heater off during peak hours and at night. Water heater timers can reduce 5-12 percent of the unit’s energy consumption.
With a little thought, experimentation, and creativity, you save money, be a smarter consumer, and reduce your carbon footprint, just by better managing your water heating options.