Adjusting Your Water Heater Temperature
As the temperatures rise, so too do our electric bills as our air-conditioning units and fans do their best to keep our homes comfortable. For many of us, this makes summer a stressful time as we worry about everything from high electric bills to excessive energy consumption.
One of the easiest things you can do to help your wallet and the planet out this summer is to try adjusting the temperature on your water heater. Your water heater might seem unrelated to keeping you cool, but it’s a big part of your home’s infrastructure and can help you cut down on energy use during this peak energy-consumption season.
What Are the Benefits of Adjusting My Water Heater Temperature?
Your water heater controls the temperature of your water, and thus, can deliver water of varying temperatures depending on which knob you turn in the sink or shower. Your water heater works tirelessly to produce hot water. Even at night when you’re in bed sleeping, it’s still plugging away keeping your water hot for your morning shower. But during the summer, much of this work is unnecessary. Because your water heater is working so hard to give you water at the temperature you want, it’s using up tremendous amounts of energy. Often, this translates into sky-high energy bills for you. You’re spending money on energy your appliance doesn’t need to expend in the first place.
The best way to control this type of energy usage in the summer is to adjust the temperature of your water heater. By regulating your water heater temp, you better equip it to deal with the strain of higher ambient temperatures. Adjusting your hot water heater in the summer can save you money by making this simple, small tweak. Once you do, there are a few benefits you’ll experience.
Save More Money
Your HVAC system is the biggest energy consumer in your home, but your water heater is a close second. Just as your heating and cooling need to work their hardest during the height of winter and summer, your water heater is under the same strain. And while the idea of a mechanical system struggling might sound like an abstract concept, there’s one notable way in which this concept has genuine implications in your day-to-day life — your bills.
Gas vs Electric Water Heater
A water heater is an integral part of every home and likely something you do not think about until it stops working. Since the typical lifespan of a water heater is between 8 and 15 years, it is likely that every homeowner will have to replace at least one over the years.
There are two basic fuel types for a standard water heater, gas and electricity. Both have positive and negative attributes to consider. We outline the differences between them below so that you can make an informed decision on which one will be right for your home.
Size impacts hot water heaters in two ways. First, most people are aware of the size in terms of gallons. The more water a tank holds, the larger it will be in general. Both electric and gas heaters come in multiple sizes from 20 to 100 gallons. But electric heaters are also available as point of origin heaters. You install this very small water heater directly at a faucet to provide hot water on demand for things like tea.
Hot Water Availability
There are also a few things to consider about the hot water availability between the two options. The first is the energy supply because not every home has access to a gas line, but nearly every home has electricity. As long as you do not have a power outage, you will always have access to hot water with an electric heater. However, gas heaters can continue to heat your water even with an outage, provided there is no disruption in the gas line.
While gas hot water heaters cost less to run due to the lower cost of natural gas, electric heaters are actually more efficient. This is due to the way that the heaters operate. A gas heater must vent the spent gas, which also takes some of the heat with it. An electric heater uses nearly all the energy it receives converting it into hot water, so you have less waste.
Replacing a gas hot water heater with either a gas or electric one or replacing an electric one with another electric one is typically a straightforward process. When installing an electric heater, it is plumbed and grounded. A gas heater with an existing gas supply is plumbed, the gas supply hooked up, and the vent connected.
Choose the Right Size Water Heater
Bigger is not necessarily better when it comes to choosing the size of a water heater. If you install a tank that’s too small, you’ll run out of hot water before finishing the shower. And if you get a tank that’s too big, you’re wasting money on heating water they won’t use
Determine the home’s FHR, or first hour rating. That’s the measure of how much hot water the heater will deliver during a busy hour, such as first thing in the morning. The FHR is always on the heater’s yellow EnergyGuide label, but if you want to double-check it yourself, use the following formula and a four-bedroom house as an example
Consider the energy factor, or EF. The higher the EF, the more efficient the tank is. In our example, you’d want to find the highest EF rating available for a tank with an FHR of 60.
Until the creation of the FHR by the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act, contractors had to use complicated tables and building codes or the minimum standards set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. But now it’s easy to determine exactly the best size to have enough hot water as cost-efficiently as possible.
Installing a Tankless Water Heater
A home’s water heater affects both the comfort level in the shower and bath, as well as the monthly utility bill. If a conventional heater is the wrong size, hot water may run out too soon, while constantly heating and reheating stored water for the home’s needs can be costly.
Solar Water Heating System
Solar water heating system is a device that uses solar energy to heat water for domestic, commercial, and industrial needs. Heating of water is the most common application of solar energy in the world. A typical solar water heating system can save up to 1500 units of electricity every year, for every 100 litres per day of solar water heating capacity.
Parts of the Solar Water Heating System
A solar water heating system consists of a flat plate solar collector, a storage tank kept at a height behind the collector, and connecting pipes.
The collector usually comprises copper tubes welded to copper sheets (both coated with a highly absorbing black coating) with a toughened glass sheet on top and insulating material at the back. The entire assembly is placed in a flat box.
In certain models, evacuated glass tubes are used instead of copper; a separate cover sheet and insulating box are not required in this case.
Working of a solar water heater
The system is generally installed on the roof or open ground, with the collector facing the sun and connected to a continuous water supply.
Water flows through the tubes, absorbs solar heat and becomes hot.
The heated water is stored in a tank for further use.
The water stored in the tank remains hot overnight as the storage tank is insulated and heat losses are small.
Uses of solar water heater
SWHs can be used at homes for producing hot water that can be used for bathing, cleaning, and washing. Solar water heaters (SWHs) of 100-300 litres capacity are suited for domestic application. Larger systems can also be used for a variety of industrial applications. Hot water at 60-80oC could be obtained through use of solar water heaters.
Fuel Savings: A 100 litres capacity SWH can replace an electric geyser for residential use and saves 1500 units of electricity annually.
Saves cost on power generation – The use of 1000 SWHs of 100 litres capacity each can contribute to a peak load saving of 1 MW.
Environmental benefits – A SWH of 100 litres capacity can prevent emission of 1.5 tonnes of carbon-dioxide per year.
Pay back period – SWHs have a life span of 15-20 years. The pay back period is about 3-4 years when electricity is replaced, 4-5 years when furnace oil is replaced and 6-7 years when coal is replaced
Solar water heating has the following advantages :
Solar water heaters save electricity and thus money; electricity is becoming more and more expensive and its availability is becoming unrelaiable;
Solar water heaters are non-polluting.
Solar water heaters are safer than electric geysers as they are located on the roof
Tankless or On-Demand Water Heaters
Tankless or on-demand water heaters heat water only when it’s needed, eliminating the need for a storage tank and the standby losses associated with constantly maintaining a tank full of hot water. Most tankless water heaters have a life expectancy of about 20 years, much longer than any conventional tank-type water heater. They also eliminate the risk of tank leaks and water damage.
How It Works
When you turn on the hot water tap, cold water is drawn through a pipe into the unit and heated either by an electric heating element or a gas burner. The hot water never runs out, but the flow rate may be limited. Tankless water heaters typically deliver hot water at a rate of 2 – 5 gallons per minute. Gas-fired models will generally have higher flow rates than electric models.
Tankless Water Heater Types
There are two basic types of tankless water heaters – small units that are usually installed right at or near the point-of-use and larger ones that are capable of serving an entire house. The smaller models can reduce or eliminate heat losses through piping (in addition to eliminating standby losses from a tank), but multiple units are usually needed to serve an entire house
In addition to eliminating losses through long runs of piping, they can save the time and water that’s wasted waiting for the water to get hot. Larger “whole house” tankless water heaters can provide hot water for multiple points-of-use in the home. While these units eliminate the heat losses from a storage tank, there will still be some losses through the hot water piping unless it is insulated.
Advantages to on-demand water heating include:
Tankless water heaters are compact in size, taking up less space than conventional tank type water heaters.
They can virtually eliminate standby losses – energy wasted when hot water cools down in long pipe runs or while it’s sitting in the storage tank.
By providing hot water immediately where it’s used, tankless water heaters waste less water. You don’t need to let the water run as you wait for hot water to reach a remote faucet.
A tankless water heater can provide unlimited hot water as long as it is operating within its capacity.
Expected life of tankless water heaters is 20 years, compared to 10 to 15 years for tank type water heaters.
Tankless water heaters usually can’t supply enough hot water for simultaneous uses such as showers and laundry.
Unless the system is equipped with a modulating temperature control, it may not heat water to a constant temperature at different flow rates. That means that water temperatures can fluctuate uncomfortably – particularly if the water pressure varies in different parts of the house.
Electric tankless water heaters require a relatively high electric power draw because water must be heated quickly to the desired temperature. In some cases the home’s electric service may need to be upgraded.
Tankless gas water heaters must be vented to the outdoors, either with a direct vent or conventional exhaust flue.
If a gas-powered unit has a pilot light, it can waste energy (with a conventional water heater, the pilot heats the water in the tank so it isn’t really wasted).