5 Tips for Saving Energy with your Water Heater

Energy Savings Tip #1: Wrap your heater in a blanket
Your water heater needs a blanket in the winter to stay warm, especially if your mechanical room is a bit cooler than the rest of the house. A fiberglass or foil insulating blanket can cut heat loss by 25% to 40% and save 4% to 9% on the average water-heating bill. Insulating blankets are easy to install and typically inexpensive . When wrapping your tank for energy savings, be careful not to block the thermostat on an electric water heater or the air inlet and exhaust on a gas unit.

Many newer units already contain insulating foam, making a blanket unnecessary and even hazardous; it can block critical components. Check with the manufacturer or a local Saskatoon plumbing company

Energy Savings Tip #2: Install low-flow fixtures
One sure way to cut hot water costs is to use less of it.

On average a family of four uses 700 gallons of hot water per week. Install eco-friendly shower heads and faucet aerators to cut hot water consumption by 25% to 60%. Another easy tip is to make sure you use the “economy” setting on your dishwasher and break the pre-washing habit. Modern dishwashers can handle a dirty dish. Scrape what’s left of dinner into the trash and then load.

Energy Savings Tip #3: Take your water heaters temperature
For every 10 degrees you turn your water heater down, you’ll save 3% to 5% on your bill. A setting at 120 to 140 degrees is hot enough. Just don’t go below 120 degrees, which could lead to bacteria growth inside the tank.

If the thermostat on your water heater doesn’t have a numbered gauge, put it midway between the “low” and “medium” marks. Wait a day, and then measure the tap temperature with a cooking thermometer. Keep adjusting until you hit your target temperature.

Energy Savings Tip #4: Drain the sediment
Tanks naturally build up sediment, which reduces efficiency and makes saving energy a challenge.

Draining the tank and saving energy is relatively easy. Turn off the water and power to the unit (set the burner on a gas unit to “pilot”). Connect a garden hose to the drain valve located at the base of the tank. Place the other end of the hose in your floor drain, carefully lift the tank’s pressure-relief valve and turn on the drain valve. When the tank is done draining turn the water back on (for 2-3 min.) while leaving the drain valve open to flush out any debris left behind. Close the drain valve and fill tank. (*TIP – Open up a tub faucet on the top floor to purge air out of the system when filling)

While most manufacturers recommend draining the tank once or twice a year, you don’t have to drain it completely; in fact, draining less water more often—just a gallon every three months will maintain the efficiency of the tank.

Energy Savings Tip #5: Insulate exposed hot-water pipes

Like blanketing the tank, wrapping insulation around hot-water pipes reduces heat loss. Water arrives at the tap 2 to 4 degrees warmer, which means you won’t have to wait as long for it to heat up, thus saving energy, water, and money.

While this isn’t an expensive DIY job—3-foot-long, self-sealing sleeves easily slip over pipes but may take some effort, depending on where your hot water pipes are located. Exposed pipes in the basement are an easy target: hard-to-reach pipes in crawl spaces or walls might not be worth the trouble.