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Heating and Cooling 6-ways-to-save-money-on-water-heater-costs

Published on March 14th, 2014 | by Terry Spencer


Six ways to save money on water heater costs

1. Lower the temperature setting.
Odds are that you’re keeping your water warmer than is necessary for your home’s needs. Most people mistakenly never check or adjust the temperature setting that was set during the water heater’s installation. Keeping the temperature high for several years may also reduce the water heater’s life expectancy. While you’re sleeping, watching marathons of your favorite TV show or at work, the water heater is keeping the water unnecessarily hot! A temperature setting of 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48 degrees Celsius) is generally sufficient and safe for most households.

2. Use the vacation setting.
Taking a trip or leaving your home for an extended period? Tell your water heater there’s no need to store exceptionally warm water for nothing! Most water heaters have a handy vacation setting that enables you to dramatically reduce energy consumption while you’re away. If your model does not have a vacation setting, select the lowest setting.

3. Don’t install a water heater in an unheated room.
Whenever possible, avoid installing water heaters in unheated rooms such as garages, if you live in a cold-weather region. Unheated environments require the water heater to work harder to reach the set temperature; this results in increased energy consumption, possible freezing and makes the unit more susceptible to failures.

4. Insulate in cold-temp rooms.
Consider insulating the cold-water pipes and tank, if the water heater resides in a room that may drop below 50 degrees (such as a basement). RepairClinic water heater blankets with one and a half-inch and three-inch insulation thickness.

5. Drain it annually.
Natural sediment builds up in the water heater tank. Over time, this buildup reduces energy efficiency. Once per year, open the drain valve to flush out a few gallons of water from the tank’s bottom to clear sediment buildup. A bucket or garden hose will work well for this. If you have sediment-rich water, you may need to drain the water heater twice annually. Note that it’s wise to have a brass cap handy, in case the valve doesn’t shut off properly from the sediment flush.

6. Check it monthly for leaks.
Discovering a leak early will avoid a highly damaging, major flood later. Like furnaces and air handlers, water heaters tend to be located in an area you don’t visit daily such as a basement corner or utility closet. Make a note on your calendar every few weeks to inspect your water heater for leakage. Check the water line fittings and temperature and pressure relief valve for signs of leakage. If there is leakage at the bottom of the tank, the tank itself may need to be replaced.

What kind of water heater should I buy?
If you’re in the market for a new water heater, consider a natural gas water heater, as it is the most cost-efficient option. If gas is not a possible option for you because of venting limitations, an electric water heater is an alternative.

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About the Author

Terry Spencer is an in-house appliance and HVAC expert for He has 29 years of expertise in appliances and HVAC equipment repair. Prior to joining RepairClinic in 2011, Terry was a respected, well-known technician at one of metro Detroit’s top residential appliance and HVAC repair businesses. Enthusiastic about fixing things and helping people, Terry enjoys his position with RepairClinic. He has a leading role in the development of RepairClinic’s how-to repair videos and repair help content. He’s also frequently called on for technical advice and press information for journalists and bloggers. He regularly completes extensive manufacturer training for appliances, HVAC equipment and outdoor power equipment. Terry has a refrigeration license and holds multiple certifications for an array of products. As a child, Terry was known to take appliances apart simply to see how they worked. While growing up on a farm, he taught himself how to repair small engines. Terry enjoys creating content that reaches and helps so many people solve problems on their own. In collaboration with colleagues, he develops and leads frequent Customer Care staff training programs for appliances, HVAC equipment and outdoor power equipment. When he’s not at RepairClinic, Terry spends time with his wife and children. An avid outdoorsman, Terry also enjoys Michigan’s seasons. He and his family reside in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area.

One Response to Six ways to save money on water heater costs

  1. Hi, Jack. Thank you for reading and for your comment. You’re correct that when draining occurs, some sediment may settle in the valve and cause the valve not to shut off as easily as it did before the draining. That’s why we recommend capping the valve to prevent any leaking. But the valve won’t be damaged in any way, unless you try to close it with force strong enough to damage or break the valve.

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