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Conserve Water:

Your biggest opportunity for savings is to use less hot water. In addition to saving energy (and money), cutting down on hot water use helps conserve dwindling water supplies, which in some parts of the country is a critical problem.  A family of four, each showering five minutes a day, can use about 700 gallons per week—a three-year drinking water supply for one person!  Water-conserving showerheads and faucet aerators can cut hot water use in half. That family of four can save 14,000 gallons of water a year and the energy required to heat it just by changing the shower head.

  • Do as much cleaning as possible with cold water to save the energy used to heat water.

  • Check your faucets for leaks. Leaks waste both water and energy!

  • Insulate your existing water heater: Installing an insulating jacket on your existing water heater is one of the most effective do-it-yourself energy saving projects, especially if your water heater is in an unheated basement or space. The insulating jacket will reduce standby heat loss—heat lost through the walls of the tank—by 25–40%, saving 4–9% on your water heating bills. Water heater insulation jackets are widely available for around $10. Some newer water heaters come with fairly high insulation levels, reducing (though not eliminating) the economic advantages of adding additional insulation. In fact, some manufacturers recommend against installing insulating jackets on their energy-efficient models. Always follow directions carefully when installing an insulation jacket. Leave the thermostat(s) accessible. With conventional gas  and oil fired water heaters, you need to be careful not to restrict the air inlet(s) at the bottom or the draft hood at the top.

  • Insulate hot water pipes: Insulating your hot water pipes will reduce losses as the hot water is flowing to your faucet and, more importantly, it will reduce standby losses when the tap is turned off and then back on within an hour or so. A great deal of energy and water is wasted waiting for the hot water to reach the tap. Even when pipes are insulated, the water in the pipes will eventually cool, but it stays warmer much longer than it would if the pipes weren’t insulated.

  • Lower the water heater temperature: Keep your water heater thermostat set at the lowest temperature that provides you with sufficient hot water. For most households, 120°F water is fine (about midway between the “low” and “medium” setting). Each 10°F reduction in water temperature will generally save 3–5% on your water heating costs. When you are going away on vacation, you can turn the thermostat down to the lowest possible setting, or turn the water heater off altogether for additional savings. With a gas water heater, make sure you know how to relight the pilot if you’re going to turn it off while away.

  • Some new water heaters have a "vacation" setting you can use to save energy if you're away for more than a few days. Turn the thermostat "down" or "off" when you're gone for more than three days.

  • If your storage water heater doesn't have heat traps, you can save energy by adding them to your water heating system. They can save you around $15–$30 on your water heating bill by preventing convective heat losses through the inlet and outlet pipes.  Heat traps — valves or loops of pipe — allow water to flow into the water heater tank but prevents unwanted hot-water from flowing out of the tank. The valves have balls inside that either float or sink into a seat, which stops convection. These specially designed valves come in pairs. The valves are designed differently for use in either the hot or cold water line.
    A pair of heat traps costs only around $30. However, unless you can properly solder a pipe joint, heat traps require professional installation by a qualified plumbing and heating contractor. Therefore, heat traps are most cost effective if they're installed at the same time as the water heater. Today, many new storage water heaters have factory-installed heat traps or have them available as an option.

  • Any hot water that goes down the drain carries away energy with it. That's typically 80–90% of the energy used to heat water in a home. Drain-water (or grey water) heat recovery systems capture this energy to preheat cold water entering the water heater or going to other water fixtures.

    Illustration of a drain-water heat recovery system. Water flows from a faucet down the drain, which is wrapped with a copper coil called a heat exchanger. Cold water flows through the coil and is heated by the warm water going down the drain. The heated water in the coil then flows to the plumbing fixtures and the water heater, where it then flows through the faucet and is used as drain water to heat new clean water flowing through the system.

    Heat Recovery - How It Works

    Drain-water heat recovery technology works well with all types of water heaters, especially with demand and solar water heaters. Also, drain-water heat exchangers can recover heat from the hot water used in showers, bathtubs, sinks, dishwashers, and clothes washers. They generally have the ability to store recovered heat for later use. You'll need a unit with storage capacity for use with a dishwasher or clothes washer. Without storage capacity, you'll only have useful energy during the simultaneous flow of cold water and heated drain water, like while showering.

     

Home Up Products Glossary Contents About / Contact

 

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Last modified: April 10, 2017