Tip #1: Install a modern hot water tank. Your hot water heater and the pipes that distribute hot water in your house are often the source of significant energy waste, either from lack of insulation on the tank and pipes or from heater thermostats that are set too high or from heating coils in need of repair. If your water heater is more than 10 years old, it probably has efficiency no higher than 50 percent. An old water heater can operate for years at very low efficiencies before it finally fails. One way to reduce water heating costs is to replace your old water heater with a new, higher-efficiency model. New hot water tanks are more efficient than older tanks mainly because they are built with more insulation between the inner and outer walls. There are several things you can do to reduce your hot water heating emissions even further:
1. Insulate the pipes going into your hot water tank. You can purchase inexpensive pipe insulation in any hardware store, and it takes only a few minutes to install. Pipe insulation is a soft foam that is designed to wrap around your pipes. Once you have put it on, it is best to secure it to your pipes with electrical or duct tape. You should insulate at least the first 1.5 metres of pipe from the water heater. For best results, insulate all the hot water pipes you can access easily. There are usually long runs of pipe in the basement that you can see, and a lot of hot water heating energy is lost from them.
2. Install a thin layer of foam insulation under your water tank. This prevents heat from being lost to the floor from the bottom of your tank. If you are unsure about how to do this, call a heating and cooling specialist!
3. Install a hot water heater jacket. Hot water heater jackets are thin metallic insulation blankets that wrap around your hot water tank. They add an extra layer of insulation to the tank and reduce heat loss. Hot water heater jackets can be purchased in any hardware store. If you are insulating a hot water heater that uses natural gas, oil or propane, be very careful not to block the air intake vents at the base of the tank or the temperature controls. Blocking the vents could be dangerous or prevent your tank from working properly.
4. Install an electric tankless water heater that will conserve both energy and water. Tankless water heaters only heat water that is in use and doesn't waste energy heating stored water that can sit for days without use. These type of water heaters are 98% energy efficient and can save you up to 50% on operating costs. They also help to conserve water. How many times have you ran a faucet until the water temperature has gone from cold to hot? Tankless heaters also have more efficient delivery pipes to keep the heated water from losing energy through distribution.
Tip #2: Install a condensing hot water heater. Condensing (also called high-efficiency or power-vented) hot water heaters are designed to extract around 90 percent of the energy contained in fuel for heating water. They are also super insulated. These design features make them very efficient: they reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and provide you with all the hot water you need. Condensing hot water heaters have a small motor at the top of the tank that pushes the exhaust fumes from the tank through a pipe to the outside through a hole in the wall. These tanks do not use a chimney. You can improve your tank's energy efficiency even further by insulating the pipes going into your hot water tank. You can purchase inexpensive pipe insulation in any hardware store, and it takes only a few minutes to install. Pipe insulation is a soft foam that is designed to wrap around your pipes. Once you have put it on, it is best to secure it to your pipes with electrical or duct tape. You should insulate at least the first 1.5 metres of pipe from the water heater. For best results, insulate all the hot water pipes you can access easily. There are usually long runs of pipe in the basement that you can see, and a lot of hot water heating energy is lost from them.
Tip #3: Install low-flow aerators in faucets and low-flow shower heads. Low-flow aerators are small devices that fit onto the end of your faucets in the kitchen and bathroom. Low-flow faucet aerators mix air with the water. This reduces the amount of water that goes down the drain when the tap is turned on, but the pressure will feel the same because both air and water are forced out the tap. Although it may take a little longer to fill a sink full of water, low-flow faucet aerators do reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. They reduce the flow of water by 50 percent, saving 6 to 10 litres of water per minute! Low flow faucet aerators are very inexpensive and can be purchased at any hardware store. They are very easy to install, because most taps have threads on the end so that faucet aerators can be installed. Don't confuse low-flow faucet aerators with standard screen aerators, which do not reduce faucet flow rates. Ask someone at the hardware store if you are unsure what you are buying. Low-flow shower heads reduce the amount of hot water coming out of the shower head by 50 percent or more. A typical shower head uses about 19 to 27 litres of water per minute: a low flow shower head cuts this down to about 11 or 12 litres per minute, and sometimes less. A typical five-minute shower with a regular shower head can consume more than 130 litres of water! There are two types of low-flow shower heads on the market: 1) Aerated shower heads mix air with the water, reducing water flow but maintaining a steady, even spray; 2) Non-aerated shower heads do not mix air with the water. Instead, they often use a pulsing flow that maintains a good, forceful spray. Some low-flow shower heads produce both a pulsing and even spray. Generally, the more expensive models produce a more satisfying shower. Low-flow shower heads can be purchased at any hardware or kitchen and bath store.
Tip #4: Repair leaky faucets and shower heads. Leaky faucets and shower heads may not seem to be a big source of wasted energy, but they are. One leaky hot water tap dripping at the rate of one drop per second could send as much hot water down the drain in one day as you would need for a regular shower. Over time, that adds up to a lot of hot water and a lot of greenhouse gas emissions. Fixing leaky faucets and shower heads is easy. All you need to do is buy a new washer from any hardware store. Turn off the water, then take the tap off with a wrench and replace the washer.
Tip #5: Lower your hot water tank temperature from 60�C to 55�C. Most houses have their hot water tanks set to a higher temperature than what they really need. In fact, the higher the temperature setting on your water heater tank, the greater the risk that you or a family member will suffer scalding (burns) from accidentally placing a hand under a hot water tap. Try reducing the temperature on your hot water tank a little bit each day. When your tank is no longer producing the amount of hot water you need, turn the thermostat back up a little bit. This will make sure that your tank is only producing as much hot water as you need. Most people can set their tank's thermostat back at least 5�C. If you have a gas, oil or propane hot water heater, you will find the thermostat on the outside of the tank. It may not tell what the temperature of the water is, but will show ranges on the dial of "hot", "warm", and maybe "vacation" or "off." Electric water heaters have their thermostats placed behind a panel. Before you open a panel, make sure you turn the electricity off first! If you are unsure of what to do, call a heating and cooling contractor. There will be one or possibly two thermostats, because electric hot water heaters usually have an upper and lower element. If there is only one panel on the tank, there will likely be only one thermostat. If there are two panels, there may be two thermostats. Always make sure that if there are two thermostats they are both set to the same temperature. If not, you could wear out one of your heating elements prematurely. Use a screwdriver to adjust the thermostats to the appropriate temperature.