Don’t let water heater guzzle energy

You know how to save water by taking shorter showers. But your electric water heater doesn’t just guzzle water; it guzzles electricity.

You can stop wasting electricity by replacing an old water heater with a newer, more energy-efficient model. Also:

  • Drain a bucket of water out of the bottom of the heater twice a year. The bottom can fill with sediment, which separates water from the heating element.
  • Invest in an inexpensive water heater blanket or insulation kit, especially for older heaters. Do not insulate over doors or vents.
  • Before buying a new water heater, estimate your family’s needs. A family of up to four should buy a 30- to 50-gallon tank, while up to seven people might require 50 to 80 gallons. Consider appliances such as hot tubs when calculating how much hot water you use, and consult a plumber for help.
  • If your house is more than two levels or if the bathrooms, kitchen and laundry room are spaced far apart, it might be more efficient to invest in a smaller water heater for each level.
  • Set the water heater’s temperature at 120 degrees or lower. This prevents scalding and standby heat loss, and can lower your water heating bill by 10 percent.
  • Insulate hot water supply pipes to reduce heat loss.