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5 Tips for Maximizing the Efficiency of Hot Water Heaters

If you own a conventional storage tank type hot water heater, you might have already learned the hard way that this equipment is one of the largest energy consumers in your home, which accounts for up to 14% to 18% of your total energy costs.

This is due to the process called “standby heat loss” associated with traditional hot water heaters. As the hot water sits in the storage tank, it starts to cool down in a natural process called standby heat loss. As a result, the heating source kicks in again and warms up the water in a constantly repeating cycle that consumes energy. Here are 5 easy ways to make your traditional hot water heater more energy efficient:

  1. Turn down the temperature on your thermostat. The fact is that you don’t really need your water heated up at 140 degrees to satisfy your needs. The general recommendation for energy efficiency is 120 degrees, which will bring you savings of 6% to 10% on your energy bill. You will not only cut down on your costs, but you will also reduce the risk of scalding that comes with high temperature settings.
  2. Minimize hot water consumption. Unfortunately, you cannot change the way traditional hot water heaters were made to function, unless you decide to totally replace it with a tankless water heater. Therefore, you can only seek ways to optimize its efficiency and reducing the quantity of hot water that you and your family use is a great way to reach your goals. Instead of changing your lifestyle completely, you can use as little as half the amount you normally do by simply adding low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators.
  3. Exposed hot water pipes? Insulate them! The reality is that exposed hot water pipes cause your hot water to arrive 2 to 4 degrees cooler at the faucet. Insulate those pipes and you will not need to wait as much for the water to heat up. This is really a small investment and an easy DIY job that will save you water, money, and energy.
  4. Use other appliances efficiently. Other appliances in your home, like your clothes and dish washers, all use hot water.  By simply making some setting adjustments like using the cold water settings, you could potentially save yourself plenty of hot water.
  5. Install low-flow shower heads. Did you know that up to 25% of your home’s water is lost through showering? You can reduce this by almost 70% by simply installing a low-flow shower head. This will in turn reduce your hot water demand requirements, not to mention reduce your water bills.

Is your hot water heater not performing as well as you’d like it to? The service technicians at Reliance Home Comfort can help. Whether you are looking to repair or replace your existing hot water heater, Reliance has the solution you’re looking for.

{ 10 comments… add one }

  • Peter Headley September 2, 2013, 10:59 pm

    What is the cost of renting or buying and installing a tankless water heater. If I give you my water consumption per 3 months acn you give me an idea how much savings i could expect with a tankless system.

  • Dan Robinson August 28, 2013, 1:12 pm

    Tip 1 is a recommendation that should definitely NOT be followed and should be removed from this list as lower temperatures foster the growth of dangerous bacteria. This course of action is recommended against by the Canada Safety Council and the US Occupational Safety and Health administration. Form the Canada Safety council: “Temperatures under 50 C (120 F) may increase the risk of Legionnaires’ disease, a form of pneumonia, due to bacterial growth in the tank. That disease is caused by Legionella bacteria, which live in water. Temperature is a critical factor for Legionella to grow. The risk of colonization in hot water tanks is significant between 40 and 50 C.”

    • Rich Massingham September 4, 2013, 3:42 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to provide this feedback Dan. I will be sure to raise your concerns with the team. Thanks again. Rich

  • Jeff Goheen August 19, 2013, 8:25 am

    Hello, do you also rent tankless hot water heaters? We currently rent a conventional hot water heater and would like to inquire as to the saving associated with this.
    Would it be worth switching? I have a household of 3 children and 3 adults.
    Please let me know how I could go about obtaining a tankless hot water heater if you rent these.
    Thank you.

    Jeff Goheen

    • Rich Massingham August 19, 2013, 4:45 pm

      Hello Jeff,

      To answer your question, yes we do. Please email me at rmassingham@reliancecomfort.com with your contact information and I will have one of our sales representatives contact you directly. You can also contact us at 1-888-837-1451. Thank you. ~ Rich

  • Christine Bonhomme August 17, 2013, 2:32 pm

    How about providing some information in the “instant” hot water heater; what type of energy consumption; numbers in household that can be economically served. etc. Thanks.

  • Thora Haynes August 17, 2013, 1:29 pm

    Thank you for these suggestions.

  • Geoff Fromow August 17, 2013, 7:27 am

    I have done all of the things you suggest, plus I have installed a timer switch which prevents the heater from using electricity during the peak rate as we are on time-of-use billing with Ontraio Hydro. Whilst not reducing consumption, it has reduced the bill and most of the time with little effect on day-to-day comfort.

    I am questioning point 5 with reference to avoiding blocking the thermostat on the electric water heater. Firstly the thermostat is measuring the water temperature as it fluctuates, not the air temperature. Secondly the thermostat is buried with the electrical connections under a plate on the.outer metal container of the tank, which is itself insulated.. That plate, along with the rest of the tank is, covered with the thermal blanket put on by the Ontario Hydro technicians in their power saver campaign.

    I think you should revise that advice.

  • Ross Henry August 16, 2013, 11:38 pm

    Just finding out that our gas bill for the past month was way too high and will be turning the control down so that the water is not as hot as usual but we don’t think that it needs to be as hot as it is at the present.
    We will be away for the next week but then may ask for assistance when we return.
    Thanks for the tip. Ross Henry

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