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Save Energy and Money by Making Your Water Heater More Efficient

Ann Arbor residents are preparing themselves and their homes for winter. As you get ready for colder days, it’s important to note that the US Department of Energy says that 14%-25% of the average homeowner’s total energy costs go toward water heating. This amounts to more than $300 per year. Here are five energy-saving tips which can help cut the cost of heating water in your home:

Tip #1: Wrap your heater in a blanket. Water heaters are often located in unheated areas, making insulation critical. Cutting heat loss by using an insulating blanket (usually priced around $30) can save 4%-9% on the average water-heating bill. Be sure to check with your manufacturer’s guide; some new models of water heaters already contain insulating foam, making a blanket unnecessary.

Tip #2: Install low-flow fixtures. The easiest way to cut hot water costs is to use less of it. According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a family of four uses about 700 gallons of hot water each week. Installing inexpensive ($10-$20 each) low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators can produce reductions of hot water by 25%-60%.

Tip #3: Take your water heater’s temperature. Most water heaters leave the factory with a high temperature setting. Reducing the temperature by just 10 degrees can cut your bill by 3%-5%. A setting at 120 to 140 degrees is hot enough; settings below 120 degrees can create a breeding ground for bacteria.

Tip #4: Drain the sediment from your tank. Tanks naturally build up sediment, which reduces the overall efficiency of the water heater. The process is relatively easy: turn off the water and power to the unit (set the burner on a gas unit to “pilot”). Connect a garden hose to the spigot at the base of the tank. With the other end of the hose pointed at your floor drain, carefully lift the tank’s pressure-relief valve and turn on the spigot; water should begin to flow. You don’t have to drain the tank completely; the Department of Energy recommends draining about a quart every three months.

Tip #5: Insulate exposed hot-water pipes. Wrapping insulation around hot-water pipes reduces standby losses, allowing water to arrive at the tap 2 to 4 degrees warmer. Since you don’t have to wait as long for it to heat, you’ll save energy, water and money.

Enjoy the upcoming winter in a new Ann Arbor home! Let Martin Bouma – your Ann Arbor expert – help you find the perfect piece of Ann Arbor real estate. Whether you’re buying or selling a home, the Bouma Group can answer any questions you have about real estate in Ann Arbor. Thinking of settling down in Washtenaw County, Saline, or a specific Ann Arbor neighborhood? Call the Bouma Group today. And don’t forget to check out our Condo Hotline – we know the Ann Arbor condominium market better than anyone!

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