Water heaters are some of the biggest power guzzlers of the home appliance world. If you're trying to cut your energy usage, it's wise to develop power-saving strategies to deal with the hungriest power gobblers on your grid.
Replace your aging water heater if it's approaching the end of its useful life. A new energy-smart water heater may be all you need to see your power bill shrink. No matter which kind of appliance you own, help your old or new water heater work more efficiently—and last longer—by following the tips below.
Know the Limitations of Your System
Each type of water heater has its drawbacks and limitations. Traditional water heaters use energy to heat water even when no one needs hot water. Tankless water heaters often can't keep up when multiple hot water–dispensing fixtures are running at the same time.
Gas-fired water heaters work during power outages in some cases, which is a plus. However, tanks on standard gas water heaters corrode faster if the gas fire is kicked on more often than normal due to heavy daily usage.
When it comes to life expectancy, traditional water heaters last anywhere from 8 to 20 years depending on the model and how well it's maintained. It's not unusual for tankless heaters to last 20 years at the minimum and much longer when properly serviced.
Work With What You've Got for More Energy Savings
When you know your system's limitations, you can take energy-conserving steps to work around the weaknesses. For example, ask your appliance service tech to install a timer on the water heater, so it only heats water during pre-set times. When the household is sleeping, or you're all away at work or school, the water heater isn't using any fuel or power. Modern smart water heaters have built-in power-saving controls that run the water heater according to your patterns of use.
If you don't have a smart water heater, set a schedule for the use of hot water so your tankless or traditional gas heater isn't overwhelmed by household demands. Stagger shower, cooking, and laundry times to reduce the draw on the system. Limit shower times and switch to cold water for clothes washing to save even more hot water and energy.
Insulate pipes, walls, and ceiling in the area where the water heater sits to reduce temperature loss due to cold drafts. Lower the water heater temperature to 120 degrees in Summer, and all year long if you can stand it, to lower your power bill and extend the life of your appliance.
Have Your Water Heater Inspected Annually
No matter which type of water heater you own, it's important to have the system inspected at least once a year by a certified HomeSmart technician to check for problems. You may not notice small issues, but those little details can become big problems in a hurry.
Two things that should be checked once a year in a standard water heater are the anode rod and the overflow valve (plumbers call this the T & P valve for "temperature and pressure".) If either of these components fail to do their job, you face serious leaks or even flooding from the water heater.
A traditional water heater is normally composed of a thin layer of glass over steel. When the glass inevitably cracks, the steel is likely to corrode or rust out, causing a leak. Corrosion of other components makes the water heater work less efficiently.
The anode valve is called a sacrificial rod because it collects the corrosion that would otherwise end up on the steel tank and other parts of the water heater. The anode rod needs to be changed out every three years as it grows more corroded. Some types of environmental conditions and water sources can cause the anode rod to corrode and need replacement more often.
T & P Valve
The T & P valve lets off the "steam" of the water heater, so to speak. What it actually does is let off small amounts of pressurized hot water when the water inside the tank gets too hot and pressure builds. If the T & P relief valve is letting out water too often, you may need to adjust your water temperature down a few degrees. Or the valve may be failing and subject to a full leak soon.
If you want to maintain your current hot water temperature but don't want to overload a relief valve, have a HomeSmart service technician add a hot water expansion tank to your system (contact us for a free estimate). This smaller tank takes on the excess water so you don't risk leaks or blowouts and you still have the hot water you need when you want it. Remember, too, that the water released by the relief valve is costing you money to heat and waste.
Contact the appliance professionals at HomeSmart From Xcel Energy today to schedule expert installation, repair, and maintenance of your water heater. We offer the best brands and a 100% quality guarantee on appliance installations.