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7 Tips to Increase the Efficiency of Your Water Heater

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Although you probably don't think much about it, your water heater is easily one of the most important fixtures in your Columbus, Ohio home. Without it, you wouldn't be able to enjoy hot, steamy showers or relaxing baths. Unfortunately, it's also one of your biggest energy consumers. If your water heater is old and outdated, ill-maintained, or set at the wrong temperature, it could be costing you a veritable fortune. With the seven tips that follow, you can significantly increase its overall efficiency.

1. Invest in a Tankless Point-of-Use Water Heater

Tankless point-of-use water heaters are the wave of the future. Energy waste at water heaters occurs in part along their distribution paths. When water is heated and stored in large tanks, it often has to travel long distances to get where it's wanted. This is especially true in multistory homes that have a single water heater on the first floor and upstairs faucets or appliances with hot water demands.

Moreover, older water heaters with tanks heat water up even before it's needed. Then, they hold it in their reservoirs indefinitely. As heat escapes, more energy must be consumed by these units to warm their stores back up. When you're asleep or away from the home, your water heater is working all the time to ensure that hot water is ready when you eventually want it.

Tankless point-of-use water heaters handily bypass both of these issues. These units are typically installed right where hot water is demanded. Thus, the hot water they create doesn't have to travel through many feet of pipes while losing its heat along the way. Best of all, these units only produce hot water on-demand. They use energy to heat water up just once, rather than repeatedly reheating it.

2. Adjust Your Water Heater's Thermostat

One of the best ways to improve the efficiency of the hot water heater that you currently own is by properly setting its thermostat. You don't need your water to come out of the tap scalding hot. If your thermostat is set too high, your water heater is expending tons of unnecessary energy to maintain its stored water at temperatures that are far too hot to actually use.

Most water heater thermostats are already factory pre-set to a temperature of about 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Dropping this temperature setting by just 10 degrees will save you cash, lower your carbon footprint, and limit the risk of painful skin burns.

3. Get the Right Size Water Heater

Buying a small-size water heater might seem like a great way to cut your energy use. However, units that are incorrectly sized for the homes they're meant to service often get worn-out long before their time. Much like undersized furnaces and air conditioners, these units are constantly working to keep up with demand. Getting a hot water heater that's the right size for your household will limit wear and tear, extend your water heater's life span, and help you avoid the high costs of an early replacement.

4. Insulate Your Water Storage Tank and All Exposed Piping

If you aren't quite ready to upgrade to a tankless water heater and if your current water heater is already the correct size, you can try reducing your energy costs by insulating all exposed piping and the water heater tank itself. Insulating the pipes that carry hot water to each tap will prevent heat loss during transport. Insulating the tank will limit the amount of work that your water heater must do to keep the water in its reservoir warm. Adding insulation in these areas is also an important step in protecting your home's plumbing from freezing wintertime temperatures.

5. Have Your Water Heater Tank Drained on a Regular Basis

Given that all they do is hold and heat water, it's probably hard to imagine that water heaters can gradually get gross and gunky over time. This is why countless homeowners install their water heaters and then never think about them again until they stop working or burst. If you know someone who's had a hot water heater burst or if you've experienced one of these unfortunate events firsthand, it's important to note that they're entirely preventable. Hot water heaters often burst due to corrosion at their interior or as the result of built-up sediment.

If you live in an area that has especially hard water, this is a good reason to have your water heater professionally serviced each year. Anything that places your hot water heater under undue pressure can result in a broken appliance and an indoor flood. Routine inspections and tune-ups will allow your plumber to identify problems like worn anode rods, built-up sediment, and developing rust. These things can be mitigated before they have the chance to spiral out of control.

If your hot water heater has reached or is nearing the end of its life span, your plumber can also get you scheduled for replacement services before disaster strikes. When necessary, water heater tanks can be flushed to both remove harmful buildups and prevent the expedited wear they cause.

6. Consider Having a Water Softener Installed

If you know that your home has excessively hard water, scheduling routine maintenance and having your hot water heater periodically flushed may not be enough. Having a water softener installed in your home will limit mineral buildups and prevent corrosion. Being proactive about addressing sediment at the interior of your water heater will also limit its energy use and keep your utility bills at a moderate, manageable level.

Investing in a water softener can benefit your household in more ways than one. These units create better-tasting water, and water that's far easier on the skin, hair, eyes, and nails. Thus, even though you'll be saving money and limiting stress on your water heater, you'll also be doing something good for your health. Softening hard water will additionally keep your plumbing fixtures looking pristine by preventing unsightly mineral deposits.

7. Have a Volt Timer Put In

Another great way to minimize energy waste is by having a volt timer put in. These units turn electric water heaters off at night so that they aren't constantly heating and reheating stored water that no one is awake to use. Volt timers are also great for families that regularly take short vacations. You'll still have the benefits of hot water on demand, but you won't have to pay for large amounts of daily energy waste.

Volt timers offer an easy and low-cost way to curb energy waste at electric water heaters that are relatively new. However, if you have an older water heater, you'll get the best efficiency gains by paying for a modern, upgraded water heater instead.

Apex Plumbing proudly serves residents of Columbus, Ohio and the surrounding areas. We offer water heater replacement, gas leak detection, hydrojetting, drain repair, and bathroom remodeling services. We also have an expansive selection of tankless water heaters. If you need help increasing the efficiency of the water heater in your home, we're the best company to call. Get in touch with us today to get started.