All Comfort Services Go Green Plumbing
Furnaces and central air-conditioners quickly come to mind when homeowners think about containing energy costs and conserving natural resources. But they often overlook their water heater, even though it is usually the second-biggest energy user in their home. Yet, energy-saving strategies are easy to implement. Among things you can do:
- Insulate your hot water pipes - Escaping heat from exposed pipes makes it more difficult to keep water hot as it moves from the heater to the place where you need it. Not only that, stray heat from water pipes forces your air-conditioner to work harder in the summer. Insulating pipes is easy to do and inexpensive. Polyethylene “pipe wrap” is available in most hardware stores and home improvement centers.
- Install flow restrictors on your showerheads - What makes a great shower is not the amount of water—but its pressure. Older showers can use water at the rate of 7.0 gallons-per-minute. A flow restrictor can reduce that to as little as 1.5 gallons-per-minute while maintaining the same water pressure, effectively reducing your hot water consumption by up to 44 percent. So you can save money, conserve resources, and still enjoy a great shower.
- Use aerators - Water will gush from your faucet and splash all over without an aerator. It is a simple device that adds air to a stream of water, forming it into many tiny droplets. Simply screwing an aerator onto your tap affects pressure only slightly, but significantly decreases the amount of water in the flow—although it might actually seem as if more water were coming out!
- Shower instead of bathe - It takes 30 gallons of water to fill the average tub compared to 20 gallons for the average 5-minute shower. That is a 33 percent savings of both hot and cold water use.
- Let bathwater stand and cool - If you decide to bathe, let the water stand and cool rather than immediately draining it. The leftover heat radiated can effectively warm your home “free” for an hour.
- Run sink-water sparingly - There is no reason to have water running while shaving or brushing teeth.
- Use your washer wisely - Only do full loads. It costs virtually as much to run your washer for a full load as a half. So washing half loads costs you twice as much. And remember: warm or hot water is expensive but seldom necessary for washing most fabrics.
- Ditto your dishwasher - It will use 14 gallons of water no matter how many dishes are inside. Avoiding the “rinse & hold” feature will save you about 3-to-7 of those gallons. Scraping dishes in advance lets you skip the hot rinse for even more savings. And air-drying costs you nothing. (If your dishwasher does not have an “air dry” setting, then just turn it off after the final rinse and prop open the door.)
- Consider a new hot water heater - Today’s water heaters are far more energy efficient than those that are ten or more years old.
Selecting a new water heater
There are numerous factors to consider when choosing a new water heater. For example, you might logically think that the larger the tank the better. But larger is of little use if it takes hours for the heater to deliver hot water after being emptied. That is why a heater’s FHR or “first hour rating” is much more important than its capacity. It tells you the amount of hot water it can deliver in an hour, and it is stated by law on the Energy Guide label of any new water heater.
Should you install a “tankless” water heater?
A relatively new and highly-efficient option is a “tankless” water heater. These supply unlimited hot water on demand by heating it instantly. There are two primary benefits:
- Hot water is not languishing in a tank, being kept heated 24/7 while you are not using it—or might not even be at home.
- Depending on the age and quality of the traditional water heater to which you are comparing it, tankless technology is 30-to-80 percent more efficient.
Given these two benefits, a tankless water heater can easily save you as much as 50 percent of your hot water use and cost.
So what kind of water heater is right for you?
As part of our free initial consultation, we will advise you about the type, capacity, and efficiency-rating best suited to your home and your family’s needs. Among hot water heaters we recommend and install: