Next to the energy that your HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system uses, did you know that your water heater is the next biggest energy hog in your home? However, there are ways that you can curb your hot-water energy use.
All water heaters have thermostats that let you choose how hot you want the water. Most have a range from 110 to 140 degrees. Keeping your water at 140 degrees increases your utility bill and can shorten the heater’s functional life. Each 10 degrees that you turn down your heater can save you three to five percent on your utility bills.
Most households only need water heated to 120 degrees. By turning it down, you lower the risk of scalding while washing or bathing, and a lower temperature reduces the buildup of scale at the bottom of the water heater. As scale builds, especially in electric water heaters, the appliance has to work harder to heat the water, increasing your bills and reducing the appliance’s life.
The U.S. Department of Energy states that there’s a small risk of legionellae bacteria building at lower temperatures, however, and recommends that anyone with a chronic respiratory disease or an impaired immune system consider keeping the thermostat at 140 degrees and using anti-scald devices in bathrooms and sinks to avoid injury.
The thermostat for a gas heater is usually at the bottom on the tank’s exterior. Electric tanks may have two thermostats, one for the top heating element and the other for the bottom. Turn both down. If the thermostat sits behind a screw-on panel, turn the circuit breaker to the heater off before removing the panel with a screwdriver.
If you want to test the accuracy of your water heater’s thermostat, run the hot water at the kitchen sink until it’s fully hot. Capture some in a cup, and then test it with an instant read thermometer. If it doesn’t match what the thermostat dial says on the water heater, turn it down in increments until you reach the desired temperature.
If you’d like more information about improving the efficiency of water heaters, please contact Rinaldi’s Air Conditioning. We’ve provided heating, air conditioning and plumbing services for the Orlando region for more than 40 years, and can help you find ways to curb your energy use and lower your utility bills in the process.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about water heaters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
Rinaldi’s services Orlando, Florida and the surrounding areas. Visit our website to see our special offers and get started today!