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Posts Tagged ‘energy consumption’

Water Heater Timer: Is it worth the trouble?

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

Energy efficient minded homeowners often hire their plumbing contractor to install a water heater timer in the hopes of reducing their utility bill. Yet, is the cost of the timer and labor involved to install it worth the trouble? How much energy and money does timer installation really save? Well, it depends mostly on your lifestyle and the age of your water heater. This post will discuss the basics of water heater timers and if you should consider installing one in the future.

This handy, electronic device connects to your water heater—gas or electric—which allows you to set the times of the day or night when the appliance activates for hot water production and maintenance. Standard water heaters require energy 24-hours a day, seven days a week, to maintain water temperatures inside its storage tank. The question to ask yourself is do you really need access to hot water 24-hours a day? If you answered no, then maybe a water heater timer can reduce your energy consumption and save you a few dollars.

Many homeowners assume that their water heater is active 24-hours a day. If fact, most standard water heaters run approximately 3 hours a day. Some newer, more energy efficient models run even less. A water heater heats water until it reaches a preset temperature on its thermostat. Once the water inside the storage tank reaches this temperature, the appliance deactivates. Afterward, as the temperature of the stored water drops, it reactivates periodically to maintain applicable temperatures.

The drop in temperature is something all standard water heaters suffer and is referred to as standby loss. This refers to the heat loss a water heater storage tank experiences when it is inactive. A good comparison is a thermos full of hot coffee. As the day goes by, the coffee inside the thermos will gradually cool. The difference is water heater storage tanks utilize built in heating elements that activate throughout the day to maintain the water temperature.

Your lifestyle will play the largest role in determining the value of a water heater timer. If you’re out of the house for the majority of the day and when most utility companies charge a premium for their energy, then a water heater timer might be worth the trouble. However, people with erratic schedules that do not include long periods away from home, might find that a water heater time is not suited for their lifestyle.

For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.

Water Heating bill: 7 Ways to Save

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

According to Energy.gov, your water heating bill accounts for 12 percent of your monthly electricity use. That is substantial considering hot water is something that most folks use two to three times a day at most. Aside from going out and buying a new, energy-efficient water heater, there are ways you can reduce your water heating expense. Take advantage of the money-saving tips listed below and reduce your energy costs. Not only is it good for your wallet, but also helps to reduce your carbon footprint, which is good for the environment.

  1. Annual Flushing: Scheduling an annual water heater flush with your plumbing contractor is beneficial to both extend the life of your appliance and maintain its maximum efficiency. Sediment buildup is the main culprit that leads to reduced efficiency and performance as well as premature tank failure.
  2. Adjust the Temperature: During an annual flush, ask your plumbing contractor to adjust the temperature settings to 120 degrees. Energy.gov states that for every 10-degree reduction in temperature, you can lower your water heating costs by 3 to 5 percent.
  3. Install a Timer: Water heater timers have been around for many years and are one of the most efficient ways to control or reduce water heating costs. Once installed, you can set the time of day your water heater activates as well as when it shuts off.
  4. Turn It Off: Many people fail to realize or forget they can simply turn off the water heater by flipping the corresponding circuit breaker in the main circuit breaker box. Do you really need to heat water while away from home for extended periods or on vacation?
  5. Wrap Your Heater: Ask your plumbing contractor about insulating your water heater with an additional water heater blanket. An extra layer of protection will slow down energy loss even further, cutting back on the appliances’ energy use. You should also consider insulating any exterior hot water lines and the first few feet connected to the water heater.
  6. Reduce Bathing Use: A nice, hot bath at the end of a long workday is very relaxing. However, if your goal is to conserve energy and reduce water use, try utilizing shorter showers. Limit your time in the shower to five minutes or less. If you require more time due to shaving, shampooing or lathering up, try turning off the water in between tasks. Ask your plumber to install Low-flow Showerheads that conserve water use, including hot water. Many incorporate a handy button that allows you to shut off the water without changing the temperature settings on the main control.
  7. Use Household Appliances Responsibly: Wash your laundry in cold water whenever possible and always during the rinse cycle. Always wash only full loads in both your washing machine and your dishwasher to reduce energy consumption and reduce your water heating bill.

For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.

Image source: Flickr

Does the “Eco” Setting On Your Appliances Actually Save Money?

Friday, March 18th, 2016

Over the past few years, you may have noticed the “Eco setting” button on new appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines. Many trustworthy homeowners often wonder if the economy setting really saves them money. Actually, the eco setting will reduce energy and water consumption but may end up costing you in the end.

Most of today’s appliances that include eco settings are energy star approved. Once activated, and depending on the type of appliance, most economy modes are designed to conserve both the amount of water and electricity or gas used to power the appliance. Common types of appliances with eco settings are listed below.

  • Washing machines
  • Clothes dryers
  • Microwaves
  • Dishwashers
  • Televisions
  • Ranges
  • HVAC systems

The downside to this well-intended idea is that the savings come at the expense of the appliance’s performance to the point where it falls short of minimum standards. For example, if a dishwasher’s performance is reduced to a point where it fails to clean your dishes, the likely result is that you will run them through another cycle, using more energy to complete the task than if the appliance has been in normal mode.

Often, appliance models that include friendly eco settings cost more than standard models of the same variety. If at the end of the day you wind up paying more for the appliance at checkout and run it twice as much to meet your standards, are you really saving any money? When purchasing these energy saving appliances, you must do your homework and compare energy star ratings with the overall price to make a solid determination. Read customer reviews to find out first hand if the appliance performance standards stand up when in economy mode.

Using common sense when using your standard appliances can reduce energy consumption and save you money. For instance:

  • Operate your washing machine and clothes dryer with full loads.
  • Reducing your thermostat setting by one degree can save you as much as ten percent of your heating cost average.
  • Do not run the dishwasher with anything less than a full load.
  • Hire a professional plumber to perform annual service and flushing on your water heater to maintain maximum efficiency.

Follow the tips listed above can save you as much if not more energy consumption than the eco function on higher end appliances.

For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.

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Water Heater Care and Maintenance

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

Imagine your life without the steady stream of hot water your water heater provides. Life’s daily household chores grind to a halt—and surprise cold showers become all too common. Many homeowners have faced the realities of a failed heater. While water heaters are tireless appliances, they do require regular maintenance and care. When correctly maintained your water heater will run more efficiently, produce cleaner hot water and reach its expected lifespan. Here are a few things you can do to protect one of your home’s most important components—your water heater:

1. Flushing

As the years go by calcium, lime and sediment can build up in the bottom of a heater tank. When this occurs, efficiency decreases. In addition, the sediment can work its way to the rest of your plumbing fixtures. The sediment can then cause blockages and even permanent damage. This is true for both gas and electric heaters. By scheduling an annual flush, you can help maintain energy efficiency within your home, while reducing the chance of contaminating your water supply lines and plumbing fixtures.

2. Insulating the Water Heater

Insulating your water heater is an inexpensive way to improve energy efficiency. Insulating also reduces energy consumption and saves you money on your utility bills. This is because insulating your water heater reduces heat loss by 25%-45% (saving you roughly 4%-9% percent in energy consumption). You can reduce energy loss and increase energy efficiency even further by insulating the water supply pipes that connect to the heater.

3. Getting an Anode Rod Inspection

An anode rod is an aluminum or magnesium rod about 3/4-inches in diameter. Its main function is to attract the electrolytes in the water (and thus prevent them from corroding the tank). Without the rod, the tank could fail prematurely— and reduce the lifespan of the appliance. A tank failure such as a rupture or even a small leak could cause significant damage to flooring, walls, baseboards and trim.

4. Temperature Adjustment

Manufacturers preset heater temperatures up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Most households do just fine when the temperature is set to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. However, higher temperatures can waste anywhere from $35 to $60 annually in heat loss (and up to $400 in demand losses).

5. Water Heater Pilot Orifice

A gas heater relies on the pilot orifice to control the flow of gas to the pilot. The smallest amount of debris can interfere with the operation of the pilot light, causing your appliance to fail. Annual cleaning of the pilot light, thermocouple and burner/manifold eliminates failures due to debris restrictions.

As you can see, it is beneficial to care and maintain your water heater. Not only does it maintain maximum efficiency, but it can also save you a few dollars.

For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.

Image Source: BigStock

Water Heaters: Should You Go Tankless?

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Homeowners are often faced with a tough decision when their water heater leaves them out in the cold. Should they go traditional or upgrade to a tankless water heater system? This decision should be viewed as an important one because most estimates claim that your home’s water heater accounts for roughly 30 percent of its energy consumption. You could experience significant energy savings by installing a more efficient system. The looming question, should you go tankless, depends on several factors that are outlined below.

Traditional Versus Tankless

Traditional water heaters heat and store the conditioned water in a tank. By design, the water temperature is maintained 24 hours a day regardless of whether or not t is being used. A tankless water heater system heats water on demand, and only when called for. On-demand water heating means on demand energy use and less energy use equates to smaller utility bills. Another advantage a tankless water heater holds over a tanked system is their compact size.

Important Installation Considerations

When you are faced with no hot water, time is of the essence. If you are considering switching from a tanked water heater to a tankless system, the installation will be more involved. The fastest solution is to replace their traditional system with a new one of the same size. Not only will hot water be restored quicker, but it will be restored at a lesser cost. This is because of the necessary plumbing, gas line and electrical upgrades that are commonly required during a tankless installation.

Understand the Savings

Breaking down the installation costs and the expected annual savings can help you determine the best route to take when replacing a water heater. Typically, a tankless system costs anywhere from $800 to $1200 “plus installation” while a tanked water heater falls between $400 and $800 plus installation. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a point of use water heater will produce hot water more efficiently — 24 to 34 percent — than a traditional system that incorporates a storage tank. The estimates can vary depending on fuel type and the amount of hot water used within the household.

Cost Saving Advice

If converting to a tankless water heater is just not economically feasible, consider these valuable tips to make your tank-style water heater more energy efficient.

  • Replace your old water heater with a newer model. Today’s tank-styled water heaters are much more efficient than those of yesteryear.
  • Insulating your tank-style water heater with a water heater blanket will significantly increase its efficiency.
  • Install a water heater timer, a device you preset that only activates the appliance during the times your household uses hot water.

Why maintain hot water 24 hours a day when probably only need it for a few hours?

For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.

Image Source: Flickr

A Standard vs High-Efficiency Hot Water Tank

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Replacing your hot water tank is a decision you should not make lightly. The ever-changing technology of today’s water heaters makes choosing one more difficult. Examining the pros and cons of each type will help you choose the right system for your home.

What Are the Ratings?

There are two very important rating systems a homeowner should pay close attention when deciding on a hot water tank. The first is the energy factor “EF” which tells you how efficient the unit is. The second is its first-hour recovery time for tanked systems or flow rate when you are talking about a tankless system.

Understanding the EF ratings is easy with the higher the numbered units the most efficient. The first-hour recovery time for tanked systems tells you how much hot water it will produce in its first hour. The flow rate for tankless systems indicates just how many gallons of hot water it will produce in usually 2- or 5-minute intervals. Both the EF and flow rates are important information you should consider before purchasing a hot water tank and usually depends on the number of people using the system.

Hybrid Electric Heat-Pump System

Heat pumps are remarkable systems used to produce hot water as well as heat and cool your home. The technology transfers heat from the surrounding air to your hot water tank, which will save energy costs.

Pros:

  • The lowest operation cost of any system means the most energy savings to you.

Cons:

  • The initial cost is far larger than conventional systems.
  • Often available in only taller sizes, it may require plumbing modification during install and takes a more space.
  • The heat pump is basically a compressor, which can produce more noise than other systems.
  • Usually requires a larger area as it needs approximately 1000 square feet of surrounding air to function properly.

Conventional Water Heaters

Conventional water heaters, both gas and electric, have been around for decades. Although they are extremely dependable systems, it comes at a cost, as they are the least efficient.

Pros:

  • Upfront costs are smaller than higher tech systems.
  • They are easy to install.
  • They are cost effective as there are no pumps, fans or other exotic parts to replace.

Cons:

  • Use the most energy.

Tankless Water Heaters

A tankless water heater, sometimes referred to as an on-demand hot water system, produces hot water as you need it. Since there is no storage tank, the system does not have to maintain the water temperature 24-hours a day. This reduces energy consumption, which can translate into energy savings for you.

Pros:

  • It never runs out of hot water.
  • It can save between 30 and 50 percent in energy costs.
  • No tank means a compact size.

Cons:

  • Installation can involve major plumbing modifications.
  • Annual flushing is necessary to remove scale and maintain efficiency.

For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.

Image Source: Flickr