How to Make Your Water Heater More Efficient

Not quite ready to make the switch to a tankless water heater?

If your conventional water heater is less than ten years old and still working fine, and if you would rather wait until you actually need a new water heater to make the switch to a tankless hot water heater, you are probably like most people. If it ain't broke, why fix it?

Here are some quick and easy things you can do to reduce the energy use of your current, old fashioned hot water tank and save a few bucks:

1. Consider lowering the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit – most are set much higher than necessary by default. Too high a setting can also be a dangerous thing, especially for families with small children.

2. Drain about one quart of water from your hot water tank every three months or so, to remove any sediment on the bottom of the tank. Sediment prevents heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of the unit.

3. Insulate the water heater and hot water pipes with special insulation available at home improvement stores – there are even kits available for a better fit.

4. Install a timer on an electric water heater that can turn the hot water off and on at preset times, saving electricity on “down times.”

5. Have a heat trap installed above the water heater. A heat trap is made up of a basic pipe arrangement, which prevents hot water from rising up the pipes, thereby helping to eliminate standby losses.

6. Turn the water heater off or to the "vacation" setting when you will be gone for more than a few weeks. Important: Learn the proper way to do this for your water heater and heating method (gas/electric).