Water Heaters Buying Guide: Some Green, Money-Saving Ideas
Your water heater probably costs you more money than you think. Most water heaters run round the clock, heating up and keeping hot up to 100 gallons of water at any given time. You probably don’t need to keep that much hot water ready for use all day.
Consider one or more of these options to save water (and money) on your water heating bills.
1. Go Tank-less
A relatively new invention, tank-less water heaters only heat up the amount of water you need at any given time. Tank-less water heating systems are also called “hot water on demand”. As soon as you turn on the hot tap, the heater heats up the water, and continues to heat up the water as long as the faucet is turned on.
A tank-less water heater heats only the amount of water you need: it does not heat up an entire tank of water if you only need a small amount at any given time. After you turn off the hot water faucet, the tank-less heater stops heating any more water. And because there is no tank, no hot water is stored.
With the tank-less system, you never run out of hot water. Another advantage of the tank-less system is that it can be installed near the kitchen, bathroom or any sink, and does not have to be installed in an out-of-the-way place like the basement.
There is a cost issue to consider here: tank-less water heaters can cost you up to twice as much as tank-type water heaters, but you should see significant energy and water savings with a tankless heater, which should pay for your investment in tank-less within two to five years.
2. Recirculate Hot Water
Consider installing a hot water re-circulation system to save hot water and therefore save money. These systems use a pump to deliver hot water wherever it is needed, and can usually end up saving saving you money on your water bills. Re-circulation systems are commonly activated by pushing a button, or can be set to automatically pump water by a timer, a thermostat or a motion sensor.
When activated, the hot water re-circulation pump begins to recirculate cooled water that has been in the hot water line and sends it back to the water heater through the cold water line. So the re-circulation system sends cold water back to the water heater rather than allowing the cold water to go down the drain.
3. Heat Recovery Systems
For as little as $300, your plumber can install a drain-water heat recovery system. The system is installed under the drain of your shower or bathtub.
These systems recover the heat from the water that’s gone down the drain while you shower, and re-directs the heat — but not the hot water — back to your water heater or to your shower-head.
4. Use “Energy Star”-Certified Appliances
ENERGY STAR is a voluntary program operated by the U.S. government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Through this program, manufacturers must submit their products to be certified by third-party agencies. Many appliances are now certified by Energy Star, including water heaters, washing machines and dryers, dish-washing machines and garbage disposal units.
The certification is designed to show that the certified appliance uses less energy, saving you money while at the same time protecting our environment and protecting our climate through superior energy efficiency.