How Can You Green Your Home With a New Water Heater?


Do you want to green your home? If energy efficiency and environmental friendliness are top priorities for your family, take a look at the questions to ask before buying a new hot water heater.


How Much Energy Does a Water Heater Really Use?

The water heater may not seem like a major energy draw. But according to the U.S. Department of Energy, it's the second largest utility expense in the average home. Water heating accounts for between 14 and 18 percent of the typical American home's total utility bills. This can equal between $400 and $600 annually.


Do All Water Heaters Use Energy Equally?

Simply stated — no. Even though water heaters may use energy differently, you need to understand the factors that contribute to daily, monthly, and annual usage before you choose a new, greener model.


The fuel and model types can significantly impact how energy-efficient a hot water heater is. Common fuel sources include electricity, fuel oil, geothermal energy, natural gas, propane, and solar energy. The type of fuel source used in a water heater depends on the model. These include storage-style water heaters, tankless, heat pumps, tankless coil/indirect, and solar.


The energy factor (or EF) provides consumers with a way to judge efficiency. This factor measures how much hot water the heater produces per each unit of fuel it consumes. The EF includes the cycling losses (heat loss from circulation through pipes of a heater's tank), standby losses (heat loss per hour in stored water), and recovery efficiency (the ability of the heater to transfer heat from fuel to the water).


How Can You Save Energy or Money on Home Water Heating?

There's no universal way to answer this question. If you want to green your home, choose the most energy-efficient option for your needs. This means you need to understand your family's hot water use. Larger households often use more hot water for showers, handwashing, and clothes washing than those with fewer people. To save energy, larger families should try to limit the amount of hot water they use.


According to the US. Department of Energy, the average household uses 25 gallons of hot water every time they wash a load of laundry, 10 gallons per shower, six gallons per dishwasher cycle, and two gallons per minute from the kitchen sink. Low-flow fixtures, energy-efficient appliances, and leak repairs can help to reduce hot water use.


If you can't (or don't want to) limit hot water use, you can choose a new, more energy-efficient hot water heater. Over time, your home's hot water heater may suffer from general wear and tear or damage. These issues can decrease its efficiency and cost you money. A qualified plumbing contractor can inspect your water heater and help you to decide what steps to take next.


What's the Best Energy-Efficient Hot Water Heater?

Before you buy a new hot water heater, make sure the energy source is readily available in your area — and at a reasonable cost. Your plumber can help you to understand what fuel sources are realistic energy-efficient options.


After you know what type of fuel source you'll need (or can) use, you can move on to the next step and select a model. A tankless style provides on-demand hot water and won't cause the standby energy losses a tank type would.


If you have lower hot water needs, this option could save energy. Tankless water heaters use between 24 and 34 percent less energy than the tank version in households that use under 41 gallons of hot water per day, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Households that use more hot water may need multiple tankless heaters to see energy savings.

Are you ready to replace your hot water heater? Contact Water Heater Pros for more information.

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