Is Your Water Heater Using Too Much Energy?


self-cleaning hot water heaterHave you been pretty energy efficient lately (turning off appliances, lowering your thermostat, etc.) but still notice that your gas or electric bill is high? The culprit may be your water heater. To find out if it is, ask yourself these questions:

What’s the energy efficiency rating?

Take a look at your water heater and find the sticker that says “Energy Guide.” You should see the heater’s “estimated yearly operating cost” marked on a scale. Where the number is marked on the scale will tell you how energy efficient your water heater is and how it compares to similar models. (If you can’t find this label, search for the water heater model on the manufacturer’s website.) If you have an estimate that is on the lower side of energy efficient, you may want to consider replacing your water heater with one that uses less energy.

How old is it?

Is your water heater more than 15 years old? If so, it could be doing more harm than good. Most water heaters last between 10 and 15 years. After that, their energy efficiency declines and you may see a bill that steadily increases in price for no real reason.

Is it full of sediment?

Hard water can contain sediment like calcium carbonate, grit, iron, magnesium, sand, and other particles. Over time, this sediment can settle at the bottom of your water heater and reduce its energy efficiency. It can also reduce the overall strength of the heater and can drift into mechanisms and cause problems. At Oliver, our water heater maintenance experts suggest flushing out your water heater at least once a year to get rid of any lingering sediment.

What temperature is it set to?

Many homeowners keep their water heaters at around 140 degrees, but water that hot can mean more burn injuries. The Energy Department recommends setting your water heater to a temperature of 120 degrees, which is enough to heat your water and save you energy. On average, for every 10 degrees you turn your water heater down, you’ll save around 5% on your energy bill, so if yours is set high, consider turning it down.

Is it the right size?

Having a water heater that’s too big or too small for your household is one of the main reasons you may be seeing higher energy bills. On average, a 30-gallon tank is sufficient for 2 people, a 40-gallon tank is good for 3-4 people, and a 50-gallon tank suits 4-5 people. Double-check the capacity of your water heater and the number of people in your home. If yours isn’t the right fit, talk to one of our specialists.

If you’ve concluded that your water heater may be using more energy than necessary, give us a call today. We’ll have one of our water heater maintenance experts assess your situation and recommend a solution.

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