As Earth Day approaches, now is the perfect time to lower your energy use and costs by making adjustments to your home appliances. With your water heater being one of the top energy-consuming appliances in your home, this is a great place to start. Check out these 3 easy ways you can boost the efficiency of your hot water heaters this Earth Day.
Turn Down The Thermostat
Hot water heater manufacturers preset their products to temperatures as high as 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hotter than most people need to maintain comfortable water temperatures. Furthermore, hotter temperatures promote the accumulation of sediment which could interfere with the efficiency of your unit.
The temperature gauge on water heaters aren't always accurate, so it will take some going back and forth to successfully find a temperature that suits your needs. Start by turning the power supply to your water heater off and then ever-so-slightly bump the thermostat dial a bit to the left. You'll find the dial on the gas valve at the bottom of the tank for gas-powered water heaters or behind a screw-on face plate on the front of electrical units.
Once you've made your adjustments, turn the power supply back on and wait a few hours for your water to heat up. Visit your faucet farthest away from your water heater and (very carefully) use an instant-read thermometer to take the temperature of the water on its highest setting. If the temperature reads 120 degrees Fahrenheit, you're good. If the temperature is still above 120 degrees, repeat the process.
Increase Your Insulation
If you have an older-style hot water heater, there is a good chance that it lacks ample insulation. Fortunately, there is a fast, inexpensive fix for this problem. Visit your local hardware store and look for a water heater blanket. The blanket will cost roughly $20 and will be pre-cut to fit perfectly around your tank. Once you have it, simply wrap it around your unit and tape it in place for an energy savings of $20-$45 annually.
Want to save even more? While you're at the hardware store, pick up some fiberglass pipe wrap and a roll of aluminum foil tape. Wrap the pipe wrap around the pipes leading away from your hot water heater, and then secure it in place with the tape. Congratulations, you've just successfully increased the insulation and the R-rating of your hot water heater!
Replace Your Anode Rod
If you look at the top of your water heater, you'll see a hexagon-shaped piece of metal. This piece of metal is the head of your unit's anode rod -- an aluminum or magnesium probe specifically intended to collect corrosive elements from your water before they can harm the efficiency of your water heater. These rods should be replaced as they become crusted and caked with sediment.
To change your unit's anode rod, shut off the power to your water heater and then carefully drain its tank. Use an appropriately-sized impact wrench and socket to free the anode rod from the water heater. Take the used anode directly to your home supply store, and ask for an exact replica. The new anode rod will cost you between $25 and $40, depending on whether it is made of aluminum or magnesium and whether the placement of your water heater requires a regular or a flexible rod.
Once you've got your new anode rod, bring it back home and screw it in place using the same wrench and socket you used to loosen the old one. Restore power to your water heater, wait for pressure to build, and your unit should be as good as new.
Your water heater is one of the top energy-consuming appliances in your home. Target your water heater this Earth Day by performing the above 3 cheap and easy adjustments to make it more efficient.