Home >>> Energy >>> Heating and Cooling

Water Heating

Water heating is the third largest energy expense in your home, after heating and cooling. Over 50% of the hot water is used in the shower and clothes dryer. Here are a few ways to save energy and cut down on the amount to money spent on water heating:

Water heater insulating jackets are one of the best dollar-for-dollar saving measures.Focus on your water heater

Wrap the outside of the water heater tank with an insulation jacket. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to install, and can be found at any home improvement or hardware store. During installation, do not cover the emergency pressure relief valve, drain valve, thermostat, and access panels. Insulate the first 3 to 4 feet of the cold and hot pipes connected to the unit.

Lowering the temperature setting on the water heater to 120°F also saves energy. For every 10 degree reduction in temperature, energy consumption can be reduced by 3 to 5 %.

Once a year, drain about a gallon of water from the tank bottom spigot. This will remove sediment that can increase the time it takes to heat water and increase tank corrosion.

Check the emergency pressure reflief valve and line. If the pipe is warm more than 18 inches away from the tank, you may have an energy (and money) wasting leak, which should be repaired quickly.

Check with your electrical utility company and see if they offer lower rates for off-peak hours electrical usage. Some companies offer incentives for customers who permit control devices to be installed that shut off water heaters during peak demand hours.


Alternative heating methods

Solar water heating: this system uses solar energy to heat water. There are two types of solar heating systems: active and passive. To find out which system is better for you, contact Gainesville Regional Utilities at (352)-334-3434. These systems can provide for 50-75% of your hot water needs.

Waste heat recovery units (HRU): this system operates with the central air conditioner or heat pump by recovering heat normally exhausted to the outdoors. As long as your central air system is operating, the "free" heat is used to heat water. Installation is about $300-$500, but can save you $100-$140 a year. That's 50% of your home's heating costs!

Heat pump water heater (HPWH): this system extracts heat directly from the air and transfers it to water in a stored tank. The system operates independently of the central air system so it can produce hot water all year long. Retrofitting an existing water heater can cost about $600-$1000, but it can save you $100-$150 a year.

Be sure to check with your local utility company for alternative heating method rebate offers and contractor and installation information.


Home | Water | Energy | Waste | Landscaping | Wildlife | Local History | Contact Us
Copyright © 2004 UF/IFAS Extension and Mark Hostetler
Content written by Elizabeth Swiman and Mark Hostetler
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611