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A steaming hot shower is a wonderful luxury, particularly in the chillier months in Berlin, Maryland. While hot water is considered a necessity by most, the associated energy costs are far from essential. You can minimize your water heater expenses without sacrificing any of your comfort or convenience with a few smart strategies.

Turn Down the Temperature

You may hesitate to turn down the temperature on your water heater, fearing sub-par performance from a lower setting. However, most water heaters are automatically set at 140 degrees, though users can typically enjoy the same comfort at just 120 degrees. For every 10 degrees you lower the temperature, you can reduce your water heating costs three to five percent.

Insulate Your Tank

Newer tanks often come insulated, but those with an R-value of 24 or less will benefit from additional insulation. Insulating the tank can reduce standby heat loss by 25 to 45 percent, lowering your water heater costs four to nine percent.

Before insulating the water heater, turn it off at the breaker. Cut an insulating blanket to the size of the water heater and wrap it around, securing with tape. If you’re having a new water heater installed, you can have your technician wrap an insulation blanket around the bottom as well for added efficiency. If you’re insulating an electric water heater, make sure you don’t cover the thermostat. For a gas heater, contact a professional to make sure you don’t obstruct the burner compartment.

Insulate Your Water Pipes

Insulate water pipes within three feet of the water heater if you have an electric heater. For a gas water heater, begin your insulation six inches from the flue and continue until you’re three feet from the heater. Insulated pipes can deliver water up to four degrees hotter than uninsulated pipes, so you may find you can turn down the temperature on your water heater quite comfortably after completing this task.

Wash Efficiently

There are many ways you can improve your washing routines for more efficiency. Try these small changes and watch your water heater savings add up.

  • Take short showers with a low flow shower head instead of long showers or baths.
  • Only run the dishwasher when it’s completely full, and use a shorter wash cycle.
  • Wash most laundry on cold, and always rinse with cold water.

Once you change your habits, you’ll hardly notice the difference with these changes. You won’t sacrifice any cleanliness, but you can minimize your water heater expenses.

Drain Sediment in Your Water Heater

Sediment naturally builds up in any water heater over time. Calcium carbonate is a mineral that settles at the bottom of your water heater tank, insulating the water from the gas burner and decreasing efficiency. Have your HVAC technician drain the sediment during annual maintenance visits. Manufacturers typically recommend draining the sediment once or twice a year.

If you’ve neglected water heater maintenance, you may hear popping noises coming from the tank. This is caused by bubbles forcing their way up through the sediment and collapsing loudly. If you hear this noise frequently, it’s a sure sign you need to drain the tank.

Upgrade to an Energy Star Appliance

Upgrading to Energy Star-rated appliances can help you minimize hot water use or simply produce hot water more efficiently. An upgraded washer or dishwasher may use less water while providing you with the same results. A new water heater can have a big impact on your utility bills as well. Talk to a qualified plumber or technician about your options for upgraded appliances to find the best fit.

Address All Leaks

Even a small leak can put a major dent in your hot water expenses. You don’t want to pay to heat water that’s just dripping away. If you have a leak that drips just once per minute, you’re wasting 4.2 gallons a month and over 51 gallons a year. Hire a qualified plumber to promptly address any leaks and stop this drain on your wallet.

If you’re looking for more ways to increase water efficiency in your home, call 877-696-0808 to contact a qualified plumber at Custom Mechanical.

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