When you look at the average homes energy consumption, water heating represents 14% of the overall energy used. Only home heating and cooling use more energy.
Water from your homes supply is heated to approximately 120oF so that it can be used for bathing, washing clothes, cooking and cleaning. When we turn on the hot water faucet we expect to feel warm water in a short period of time. While there are many options for water heater replacement, the majority are a simple insulated tank that is heated with either electricity, by heating elements within the tank, or by a gas burner located underneath the tank. The burner heats the water in the tank in the same way that you would heat a pot of water on a gas stove. Home hot water heaters with a tank have a thermostat which measures the temperature of the water and turns on the electricity or burner until the temperature is above the point that the thermostat is set at. The water in the tank is always kept hot so that when you need it, and when you don’t, it’s available. Follow this link to learn more about the differences between electric and gas hot water heaters.
There is another type of water heater to consider called a tankless hot water heater. As its name implies, it doesn’t maintain a tank of ready to use hot water but rather quickly heats the water only when it is needed. While a significant amount of energy is used to quickly bring the water up to temperature, it is only used when hot water is needed. Does this mean that a tankless hot water heater is the right choice for you? It depends and this is exactly what we’ll explore in the section on tankless hot water heaters .
There is another interesting option which still utilizes a tank but consumes less energy to keep the water hot, a heat pump water heater. This type of hot water heater extracts the warmth out of the air around the tank and uses it to heat the water. It isn’t as efficient as a tankless hot water heater but given that it installs in the same manner as a traditional hot water heater the upfront installation cost can be a lot lower. Click here to explore heat pump hot water heaters in more detail.
You can also heat your water using the energy of the sun with a hot water solar heater. Water is heated by the sun and circulated through your hot water tank to keep the water hot. When the sun isn’t out the hot water tank uses either electricity or gas to keep the water hot. Click here to explore solar hot water heaters.
If your building a new home you might consider using Geothermal heat, the heat of the earth itself, to heat both your home and your water. To learn more about heating your water using geothermal heat click here.
You may not be ready for a water heater replacement but that doesn’t mean that you can’t reduce your energy consumption with the one you have. We’ll tell you how to set your thermostat to 120oF and verify that the water is at that temperature. We’ll cover the simple step of insulting your tank and insulting your hot water pipes. It’s like putting a coat on them to keep the hot water inside warmer with less need to heat it. You can also add a timer to your hot water tank and devices called heat traps.
Keep in mind that the most energy efficient option isn’t always the least expensive, especially when considering the cost of installation. You’ll be saving more each month but it will take longer to recover your initial investment.
There is also a device known as a Recirculation Hot Water Pump that moves the hot water through the hot water pipes so that when a shower or sink is turned on, the not water will get to it quickly.