During the holidays you want to be able to guarantee plenty of water, especially hot water, to go around. Extra loads of laundry and dishes, as well as extra showers and baths for guests, all create added demand on your water heater. Thankfully, there are simple ways to help lighten your water heater’s load, with the added bonus of saving energy and money.
First, make sure your water heater is ready for its upcoming marathon. If you haven’t had your water heater maintained, now is the perfect time. A qualified technician will look out for any problems that may occur with heavy usage and can ensure your water heater is running as efficiently as possible.
Second, set your water heater no higher than 120 degrees. This way your water heater will have about 10 percent less work to do. That doesn’t seem like much, but when you consider that your water heater is constantly working, during just one day it saves 2.4 hours of work.
Third, remove any sediment that has collected in the bottom of your water heater; simply drain about 5 gallons of water from the bottom. This sediment makes your water heater less efficient and shortens the tank’s lifespan.
Last, install a water heater blanket to reduce standby heat loss. While you’re at it, buy some pipe insulation for the pipes leading to and from the tank. Insulation is inexpensive, easy to install, and helps keep the water in the tank warm, while helping your water heater run more efficiently. Be sure to install it properly, ask your local plumber for assistance, as an improperly installed blanket can result in a dangerous situation. Any age of water heater benefits from this added insulation, but if your water heater is more than 5 years old, located in an unheated space, or both, these upgrades can make a huge difference.
Now that your water heater is in tiptop shape, think about how you can lighten its load even more in the room where we use water the most during the holidays: the kitchen.
Aim for using cookware that goes from fridge to oven to table. Just think of how many dishes you will not have to wash by mixing, cooking, serving, and storing the green bean casserole all in the same bowl.
Dishwashers are at their most efficient when full. Luckily, it’s not hard to fill these appliances during the holidays so this one’s a piece of cake. When you use your dishwasher efficiently, you’ll use 37 percent less hot water than hand washing.
When cleaning up, scrape dishes instead of using water to rinse. You’ll save two gallons of water per minute. If you must rinse, use cold water instead of hot. And, soak any stuck-on foods instead of scrubbing under running water.
The holiday season is a huge burden on your water heater. The best way to ensure that it runs at peak performance is to have it serviced. Then insulate it, lower its temperature, and simply ask it to do less. It won’t fail you.