How Much Energy Is Your Water Heater Using?

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Is your hot water heater an energy hog? Here are some tips to help you find out….

You may love a hot shower after work, but did you know that the hot water for your shower may be the second largest energy expense in your home? Some estimates calculate that your hot water heater may account for almost 20% of your total utility bill!

If you have a geothermal system (which we are planning to install soon – we’ll let you know how it goes!), many of these will provide you with hot water almost for free, but if not, you may be surprised at how much it costs to supply your home with hot water.

These 5 questions can help you assess your hot water heater, and find out if you can do anything to improve its efficiency:

What’s the brand and Energy Star rating of your water heater? Start simply by looking at the brand of your current water heater and its average operating expense. Look for the sticker that says “Energy Guide,” which will tell you the average operating expense of the unit…. Also look for the Energy Star rating — the higher the rating, the more money you’ll save in the long run.

How old is your water heater? Most water heaters last 10 to 15 years. If yours is older, there’s a good chance that it’s not as energy efficient as more modern models….

What size water heater do you have? Many people don’t realize that water heaters are not one-size-fits-all appliances. A smaller storage tank (30 to 40 gallons) is usually sufficient for two to three people. A 50-gallon tank works well for a family of four, while a larger family will require a larger tank (80-plus).

What type of fuel does your water heater use?  Natural gas, electric, propane or solar? If you have an electric water heater and your electric bill is high, there’s a reason: It costs three times more to run an electric water heater than a gas water heater! This alone might make you consider a new system for long-term savings.

What type of water heater is your unit? There are many different types of water heaters, including electric heat pump models, gas and electric tankless (heat on-demand) options. Figure out which type you have and learn about its pros and cons. You might not have the most appropriate unit for your home.

Is it Time to Shop for a New Water Heater?

After assessing your water heater, you may decide that it’s time for a replacement. There are just two more things to do before moving forward with your purchase:

• Consider the upfront cost of installing a water heater. The more energy-efficient your water heater, the more it will cost upfront.
• Know the size of your water heater closet. The new, more efficient water heaters contain more insulation, which adds a few inches to the height and width. Be sure to measure the space you have in the area where you store your water heater to ensure the new one will fit.
• Check for rebates and tax credits
. For example, there’s currently a huge tax incentive for installing solar water heaters, valid through December 2016. Ask the salesman what rebates or credits are available when making your decision.

To read the full article, visit Mother Earth News.


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