Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How to make your conventional electric hot water heater more efficient – Insulate it!

Good morning everyone.

Very soon, my husband and I will be moving to a nicer, more recent apartment building (having outgrown the “college” setting we are currently residing in) and I will be, for the first time, paying all my utilities, including hot water. That one is very new to me since I’ve always lived in buildings where the hot water tanks were in the basement, gas heated, and I never had to worry about them.

But as of July 1st, we will have access to our electric water tank in our apartment and will have our own separate counter. Not only do we see this as a great way to start really paying attention to how much we use, but it will be a great start to us finding ways to making the adjustments and changes in order to make our conventional water heater as efficient as possible.

According to Natural Resources Canada and the Office of Energy Efficiency :

Storage tank water heaters are by far the most common type used in Canada. These systems heat and store water in a tank so that hot water is available to the home at any time. As hot water is drawn from the top of the tank, cold water enters the bottom of the tank and is heated. The heating source can be electricity, gas or oil.

More efficient storage tank water heaters can perform as much as 40 percent better than conventional models. An energy-efficient model will typically have one or more of the following features:

  • extra tank insulation for better heat retention and less standby loss (loss of heat through the walls of the tank)
  • a better heat exchanger to transfer more heat from the energy source to the water
  • factory-installed heat traps, which allow water to flow into the tank but prevent unwanted flow of hot water out of the tank
So if you are shopping for a new water tank and cannot afford green power like solar panels for water heating, look for the more efficiently rated ones.

But if you are like me, renting and don’t have a say really over the tank that you have or not able to get a new tank, that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it!

Our tip is to go to a place like Home Depot or Lowes and buy a hot water heater blanket. Now be sure you take all your measurements because not all water heaters are the same! But these places will sell most conventional sizes for under 30$.

The U.S. Department of Energy has posted a very comprehensive guide to installing an insulation blanket that I plan on using to make sure our tank is well fitted. According to them, “adding insulation to it can reduce standby heat losses by 25%–45%. This will save you around 4%–9% in water heating costs.” Not too bad for a 30$ investment. And less water heating means a lesser carbon footprint which is once again the ultimate goal.

Hope this was useful!

What ways do you use to save on your energy bill?


Thomas said...

Low cost energy saving: Insulate your hot water heater[...]Is the top of your hot water heater cool to the touch? If it isn’t, it’s losing heat and wasting money on your behalf. The good news is you can stop this [...]