Tank Type Water Heaters
Reduce Hot Water Use for Energy Savings
You can lower your water heating costs by using and wasting less hot water in your home. To conserve hot water, you can fix leaks, install low-flow fixtures, and purchase an energy-efficient dishwasher and clothes washer.
You can significantly reduce hot water use by simply repairing leaks in fixtures—faucets and showerheads—or pipes. A leak of one drip per second can cost $1 per month.
If your water heater’s tank leaks, you need a new water heater.
Install Low-Flow Fixtures
Federal regulations mandate that new shower head flow rates can’t exceed more than 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) at a water pressure of 80 pounds per square inch (psi). New faucet flow rates can’t exceed 2.5 gpm at 80 psi or 2.2 gpm at 60 psi. You can purchase some quality, low-flow fixtures for around $10 to $20 a piece and achieve water savings of 25%–60%.
For maximum water efficiency, select a shower head with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm. There are two basic types of low-flow shower heads: aerating and laminar-flow. Aerating shower heads mix air with water, forming a misty spray. Laminar-flow shower heads form individual streams of water. If you live in a humid climate, you might want to use a laminar-flow showerhead because it won’t create as much steam and moisture as an aerating one.
Before 1992, some shower heads had flow rates of 5.5 gpm. Therefore, if you have fixtures that pre-date 1992, you might want to replace them if you’re not sure of their flow rates. Here’s a quick test to determine whether you should replace a shower head:
- Place a bucket—marked in gallon increments—under your shower head.
- Turn on the shower at the normal water pressure you use.
- Time how many seconds it takes to fill the bucket to the 1-gallon (3.8 liter) mark.
If it takes less than 20 seconds to reach the 1-gallon mark, you could benefit from a low-flow shower head.
The aerator—the screw-on tip of the faucet—ultimately determines the maximum flow rate of a faucet. Typically, new kitchen faucets come equipped with aerators that restrict flow rates to 2.2 gpm, while new bathroom faucets have ones that restrict flow rates from 1.5 to 0.5 gpm.
Aerators are inexpensive to replace and they can be one of the most cost-effective water conservation measures. For maximum water efficiency, purchase aerators that have flow rates of no more than 1.0 gpm. Some aerators even come with shut-off valves that allow you to stop the flow of water without affecting the temperature. When replacing an aerator, bring the one you’re replacing to the store with you to ensure a proper fit.
Insulate Hot Water Pipes for Energy Savings
Insulating your hot water pipes reduces heat loss and can raise water temperature 2ºF–4ºF hotter than uninsulated pipes can deliver, allowing for a lower water temperature setting. You also won’t have to wait as long for hot water when you turn on a faucet or shower head, which helps conserve water.
Insulate all accessible hot water pipes, especially within 3 feet of the water heater. It’s also a good idea to insulate the cold water inlet pipes for the first 3 feet.
Use quality pipe insulation wrap, or neatly tape strips of fiberglass insulation around the pipes. Pipe sleeves made with polyethylene or neoprene foam are the most commonly used insulation. Match the pipe sleeve’s inside diameter to the pipe’s outside diameter for a snug fit. Place the pipe sleeve so the seam will be face down on the pipe. Tape, wire, or clamp (with a cable tie ) it every foot or two to secure it to the pipe. If you use tape, some recommend using acrylic tape instead of duct tape.
On gas water heaters, keep insulation at least 6 inches from the flue. If pipes are within 8 inches of the flue, your safest choice is to use fiberglass pipe-wrap (at least 1-inch thick) without a facing. You can use either wire or aluminum foil tape to secure it to the pipe.
Selecting a New Water Heater
You have a lot to consider when selecting a new water heater for your home. You should choose a water heating system that will not only provide enough hot water but also that will do so energy efficiently, saving you money. This includes considering the different types of water heaters available and determining the right size and fuel source for your home.
When selecting the best type and model of water heater for your home, you also need to consider the following:
The fuel type or energy source you use for water heating will not only affect the water heater’s annual operation costs but also its size and energy efficiency.
To provide your household with enough hot water and to maximize efficiency, you need a properly sized water heater.
To maximize your energy and cost savings, you want to know how energy efficient a water heater is before you purchase it.
Tank type water heaters are 50 to 64% efficient. Tankless water heaters go from 83% to 98% efficient.
Before you purchase a water heater, it’s also a good idea to estimate its annual operating costs and compare those costs with other less or more energy-efficient models.
Conventional Storage Water Heaters
Conventional storage water heaters remain the most popular type of water heating system for the home. Here you’ll find basic information about how storage water heaters work; what criteria to use when selecting the right model; and some installation, maintenance, and safety tips.
How They Work
A single-family storage water heater offers a ready reservoir—from 20 to 80 gallons—of hot water. It operates by releasing hot water from the top of the tank when you turn on the hot water tap. To replace that hot water, cold water enters the bottom of the tank, ensuring that the tank is always full.