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Do not turn on hot water when using cold
When hot is turned on, even a moment, cold water immediately enters water heater. Water heater runs more. Single handled faucet lifted in center will draw hot water from tank. Applies to gas and electric heaters. If single handled faucet has crossover, then hot water can draw through defective faucet cartridge when other faucets turn on.

Install Dual-handle faucets when replacing faucets
Save $2-8 per month.

Prevent unintentional hot water consumption
This type of faucet does not have crossover problem caused by a bad cartridge.
It is easy to know when hot water is drawn from tank.
Do not open Hot side when using cold water.

Fix drips and leaks
Save $1-8 per month.

When hot side faucet drips, then cold water is entering tank at same rate water is dripping out of faucet.
Save 1/2 gallon per day:

Maintain water heater and it can last twice as long - or more
Save $8-10 per month
If water heater lasts 10 years, and cost $600 to buy and install today, but $1200 to buy and install 10 years from now, then the depreciation cost is $8-10 per month.
All costs are energy. Add depreciation cost to monthly energy bill to accurately estimate cost for operating water heater. And also figure that new heater 10 years from now will cost even more.
It makes sense to maintain your water heater.

Do not expose gas water heater to flammable vapor
This applies to gas water heaters and electric heat pump water heaters.
Save loss of life and home. Save possible replacement of water heater. 
Today's gas water heaters require more clean air, and no exposure to flammables.
Flammable vapor ignition retardation system is mandatory on gas water heaters due to casualty and property loss by insurance industry. Specific things cause FVIR to trip including poor air quality, bad vent, dirty conbustion parts, clogged air intake, and exposure to flammable vapors.
FVIR senses ignition of flammable vapor from solvent or fuel, and shuts access between flame and fuel. Thus preventing flashover or explosion that will save your life.
Flammable vapor event can require replacement of water heater.
Do not store gasoline in unapproved or open container.
Read household product labels for flammable warnings.
Turn off burner and pilot when using flammables
Keep air intake/ arrestor screen clean  Read about arrestor screen by brand water heater
Dirty air intake screen will cause FV lockout. Slower air means slower venting, yet same amount of gas is burned, causing overheated combustion chamber, and FV trips.
Read water heater manual for advisories  Read Water heater precautions

Turn down thermostat

Save $2-4 per month standby cost
For each 10degree reduction, save 3-5% operating cost.
     120 degrees or lower is considered optimal
     130 degrees recommended to kill bacteria when washing clothes
     Temperatures above 140 can cause minerals to distill out of water and damage pipes
See how to adjust temperature on gas and electric water heaters
How to increase amount of hot water
Use surge protector when water heater plugs into outlet

Set lower thermostat less than upper thermostat, unless home has peak consumption.
Typical electric water heater heats 21 gallons hot water per hour with 4500 watt elements
Heats 16 gallons hot water with 3500 watt elements

Washing machine/ dishwasher
Use cold water instead of hot
Turn off hot to washing machine
Connect dishwasher to cold water line.
Connect under-counter water heater to cold water line instead of hot
If very hot 135 degree water temperature is needed for wash day:  
Raise water heater temperature for that day or hour, and then reduce temperature to 120 degrees later.

Reduce consumption
Save 10 gallons hot water each time by taking shower instead of bath.
Save $15-20 per month
Take showers instead of bath.
Bath uses 12-15 gallons hot water. Shower uses 5-9 gallons hot water
Install shower timer
Don't run water continually when shaving
Wash dishes by hand
Wash clothes in cold water
Install low-flow faucets and shower heads
Fix leaks
Do not install garden-size or over-sized bathtubs

Wrap water heater with insulation and save 4-9% operating cost. read1 US Dept of Energy suggests R-8 which equals 2-1/2" fiberglass insulation.
Home centers sell ready-to-use blanket for $25.
Save $2-8 per month
Does water heater need insulation?
Will 2" foam stop 50 degree temperature differential? No.
Tape thermometer to water heater, cover thermometer with fiberglass insulation, after 20 minutes, remove insulation & compare before and after thermometer reading.
note: Electric water heater and gas water heater are wrapped differently
Both gas and electric: Never obstruct TP valve. Leave access to drain.
Electric water heater: OK to insulate entire tank, except TP valve.
Gas water heaters: NO insulation on top of tank -or- over draft air inlet -or- air intake opening -or- around gas control valve

Insulate pipes at water heater and rest of house
Save 25 cents - 1 dollar per month x 30 years = $90-180
Water pipes lose heat. When colder water enters tank, it must be heated more.
Pipes on top of tank draw heat out of water heater. Tank runs more.
Gas water heater: Insulation must stay away from top of heater and vent pipe.
Electric water heater: Insulation can cover all pipes and top of water heater

Insulate TP valve
Small savings each month
Add insulation to TP valve to prevent heat loss.
Do not cover lever with insulation. Do not cap off TP valve or cap off discharge tube.

Set ELECTRIC water heater on insulated surface to prevent heat loss through bottom of tank.
Electric water heater only: Internal steel tank has no insulation on bottom. Water in bottom of tank is hot. Proof: open drain valve at tank bottom releases hot water. Heat loss can be slowed with insulation. You are warmer sitting on insulation, so is water heater.
Small savings each month

For example, use Dow blue styrafoam
Or build 2x4 frame filled with insulation and covered with 3/4" plywood. Plywood is good insulator. Metal and aluminum are very poor insulators and will cause heat loss. To test insulation value of material, put hand on material and see if it warms quickly under hand

Note: water weighs 8.34 pounds per gallon
40 gallon steel water heater filled with water weighs approx 450lbs.
80 gallon water heater with water 870lbs.
Make sure floor structure can support weight of 2-4 large men.

Install water heater timer  (Electric water heater)
Save $10+ per month by reducing consumption in conjunction with timer
Good for homes with few people and homes with peak electric pricing
Not good for homes with several people and large consumption habits.
Timers can save money when people also reduce consumption and schedule hot water

Off-peak water heater options (timer added)
Save by avoiding peak electric pricing
Applies to electric water heaters
Avoid peak electric prices. Save money.
Wire timer to operate electric water heater during off-peak times.
Water heater is always ON like usual, but less hot water is available during peak-price hours

Prevent electrolytic corrosion/ & connection failure
Save cost of plumbing repairs
Lengthen lifespan of water heater and protect plumbing from deterioration.
Use di-electric nipple with plastic lining when connecting pipes to water heater. Sold at local home center. Image on left shows failed di-electric unions. Failed because washer wore out. Di-electric nipples do not require washer. Some folks prefer brass fittings since they do not corrode.
Di-electric prevents electrolytic corrosion or electrolysis caused when different metals are connected together.
Different metal pipes can also cause Low Hot Water Pressure

Use Flexible copper -or- flexible Stainless Steel lines when using flexible connections
Save cost of clogged pipes and plumbing repairs
Broken and leaking pipes cause repair costs.
Braided hoses can leak, and interior rubber coating can come apart and get into pipes.
This applies to both water heater and washing machine and water softener.
Ruptured washing machine hose and water heater supply lines cause flooded homes.
Use di-electric nipples between flex connections and water heater.

High water pressure above 80psi can cause water heater damage, plumbing damage and rupture.

Install pressure-reducing valve and set pressure for 60 psi or less. 

Add heat traps to slow natural convection of heat upwards.
Prevent loss of heat leaving top of water heater.
Electric heater: Save $9.20 per year/ Gas heater: Save $4.00 per year.
Some new water heaters have built-in heat-trap nipples and washers.
Pre-installed heat-trap nipples and washers can clog
causing pressure problems. Replace with di-electric nipples and add heat trap pipes.

Electrically ground water heater pipes on gas and electric water heaters.
Save cost of plumbing repairs
Water heaters that rust out quickly might be connected to water pipes that are not grounded.
Hot water pipes are not grounded in many homes. Read Pdf  
To get 'rid of stray current corrosion, jumper between hot and cold pipes with #6 solid copper wire. And check that cold water pipe is grounded to main panel and to grounding rod. Read1  Read2 

Check that water heater is bonded to electrical ground: this action will prevent electrocution.

Prevent electrocution/ injury: Electrically ground gas and electric water heater
Family safety
Check that water heater is bonded to electrical ground at main panel: this action will prevent electrocution.
Add a ground screw directely to metal tank, and run ground wire to grounding busbar on main panel.
Applies to gas and electric water heaters.
Many gas water heaters are connected to electrical outlet for power vent, or damper etc
Electric water heaters have ground screw. Make sure ground wire from main panel is connected to screw.
Attach ground wire from both hot and cold pipes to ground screw.
Shorts can occur if electric heating element touches anode rod, or if element cracks inside electric heating element.

Electric water heater: use 30 amp breaker and 10 gauge wire
Save cost of replacing circuit breaker/ and/or replacing main breaker panel
Use 30 amp breaker and 10 gauge wire on household 4500 watt water heater.
30 amp circuit runs cooler = less amp loss from heat = more efficient use of electricity
Circuit breaker and breaker box last longer

Set water heater higher: avoid rising water.
Save cost of water heater replacement
Flooded heater will void warranty and manufacturers recommend replacement.
Do not touch water heater that has been flooded, risk of electric shock. Make sure breakers are turned off before servicing. Most homes have ground wire connected to cold water pipe.
Flooded gas water heater can be risk of explosion and fire if put back into service. Malfunctioning gas control valve and gas that is not completely burned cause risk.

Inspect tank each 6 months for water leak
Save cost of water damage caused by ruptured tank or broken pipe
Check anode rods

Prevent leaks:
Avoid major damage to home caused by tank rupture and leaking..
Inspect water heater each 6 months.
Inspect and replace anode rod every 2 years.
Put drip pan under tank.
Use reinforced flexible connections.
Keep water pressure below 80 psi, and/or install expansion tank

Inspect Anode rod every 1-3 years and increase life of water heater
Save $4 per month
Prevent leaks and early demise of heater
Anode rod prevents water heater from rusting.
Maintaining anode rod means water heater lasts longer, saving money.
Install 2 anode rods, and tank lasts longer. Two anodes can convert 6-year tank into 12 year tank.

Tanks needing frequent anode replacement might benefit from powered anode rod

Water softeners accelerate anode consumption because they eliminate the formation of scale in
the water heater tank Light scale formation in a water heater is desirable since it forms a barrier
film on the exposed steel surfaces in the tank such as pipe connections and weld areas.

Turn off 2nd water heater
Save $40 a month right now
Many homes have 2nd water heater for convenience. The 2nd heater may not be necessary.
If 2nd water heater is needed, put in a smaller tank, or install under-counter water heater at faucet.

Small heater at sink
Save $2-8 per month if under-counter heater is connected to cold water line.
More expensive if under-counter heater is connected to hot water line.
Pot heater can save instead of using water from main heater, or while timer has water heater turned off
Under-counter heater can reduce need for larger water heater.
Let's you turn off second water heater.
Connect under counter heater to cold water line instead of hot


Install smaller tank and reduce consumption. Don't oversize, choose right size.
Save $4-10 per month
Smaller tank costs less to operate when consumption is also reduced. Overworking gas water heater will cost more in repair. Choose the right size. Conserve. Plan. Put in smaller tank if consumption is reduced.
Home might require at least 40 gallon for resale value.
Home with garden-sized or over-sized tub require minimum 80 gallon first-hour delivery.
Consider that all costs are energy, so total cost over life of appliance is important. Save water heater manual. Anticipate that water heater lasts 6-12 years. Plan ahead - do your homework for most efficient unit. Consider options. Consider solar assisted. Consider self-cleaning tanks. Search Dept of Energy efficiency information. Consider heat-pump water heater. Avoid hype: read side-by-side test for tankless. Compare water heater innovations.

Large bathtubs consume large amounts of hot water.
Each gallon taken from water heater is replaced by gallon of cool-cold water that must be heated to temperature setting.
Over-sized and garden-size tubs recommend 80 gallon first hour delivery.
Eectric water heaters must be sized 60-80 gallon.
Heat pump water heaters generally cannot produce enough hot water.
Most 50 gallon gas water heaters will meet 80 gallon first hour

Avoid tankless water heater promotion.
All costs are energy.
Saving money with tankless is highly questionable for average 4-person home.
All costs are energy. True cost includes monthly energy bill, cost of product, installation, softener-and-filter, maintenance, water consumption, disposal and replacement of water heater. Read manual and ask questions. Recommended maintenance schedule will cost more than energy savings. Look at parts sheet and ask about repairs costs. Visit manufacturer's website for troubleshoot resources. Web search brand and model.

Turn off recirculation system.
Save $20-35 per year or more
Recirculation system motor costs money to operate, and water heater runs more hours.
If you have recirculation system, use timer instead of thermostat to control circulation.

Typical Grundfos UP15 pump uses 29 watts and costs modest $25 per year when run 2 hours per day, but water heater runs more and costs additional $20-35 per year.

Flush tank every six-months to prevent sediment build-up.
Save $2 per month by extending life of heater and keeping efficiency high
Water heater that is maintained will last longer and work more efficiently. And save money
Frequent flushing plus a water heater timer could eliminate need for water softener.

Once sediment accumulates, it cannot be completely removed from gas water heater. Build-up of calcium carbonate reduces heating efficiency, especially in gas water heaters. With electric heater, calcium carbonate can short out bottom element.

Understand Efficiency, Hard-water, and Water-softener.

Storage-type Electric water heaters operate at 99% efficiency with or without water-softener, until sediment reaches bottom element. Full 99% efficiency can be restored to Electric storage heater by cleaning sediment out of tank. Storage-type gas water heater operates at 69% efficiency. Tankless gas 79%. High-efficiency storage-type gas has 96% efficiency. All gas water heaters lose efficiency when hard water is not softened. Efficiency of gas water heaters cannot be fully restored by cleaning or de-liming. Hard water must be softened for gas water heater efficiency. However, soft-water is corrosive to anode rod. When water-softener is used, anode rod needs inspection every 2 years.

Re-think home layout so hot water usage points are clustered near water heater.
Save $5 per month
Locate showers and baths next to water heater, while toilets that use no hot water can be farther away.
Avoid garden-sized or over-sized bathtubs that require bigger water heater.
Kitchen should face south to take advantage of nearby passive solar heater since lunch & dinner occur at times when solar water heat is most abundant.

Drain-water heat recovery
Net savings undetermined (exotic option for most of us)
This idea possible if house has accessible drain system
Copper pipe or strap is wrapped around outgoing copper drain pipe to recapture hot water as it leaves house.
Recaptured heat is transferred to incoming cold water
Shower heat recovery estimated at 60% since heated shower water is draining same time new cold water is entering heater.

Install tempering tank located in naturally warm location can preheat water before it flows into cold water side of water heater. 

Save $2-8 per month

Re-purpose old water heater: Use old water heater for tempering tank, don't throw it away. Tempering tank can be old water heater, or coil of copper tubing, or any 20-80 gallon water tank not connected to fuel source.

Avoid high water pressure over 80psi
Save cost of water heater replacement and plumbing repairs
Water pressure: Pressure over 80 psi can damage water heater.
High pressure will also shorten life of plumbing fixtures, and cause washing machine hoses to rupture, etc.
Symptoms: TP valve goes bad frequently. Cause: Closed system because of check valve or faulty pressure valve, or community water problem or water well pressure set too high.
Connect BTG 100 pressure gauge to water heater drain valve to check pressure.

Install pressure reducing valve. Replace check valve. People with water well > turn down pressure on water well > save both hot and cold water, save electricity, and well equipment lasts longer

Earthquake-proof water heater.
Save property damage and possible fire
Earthquake straps help prevent gas leak and fire in event of earthquake.
Prevents damage to property and injury from falling tank.

Install gas water heater 18" off floor to avoid flammable vapors and flood damage.
Save property damage and avoid fire hazard
Hydrocarbon vapors from gasoline, fuel and thinners stay low to ground.
Raising water heater will prevent flammable vapor ignition, and repairs if water heater goes into lockout.
Do not set gas water heater on carpet. Must be on wood or metal surface. 

Thermal expansion tank is small safety device put on incoming cold water line to stop excessive expansion of pipes and tank caused when thermostat is set high.

Save premature wearout on valves, faucets and ballcocks.

High pressure damages tank and plumbing.
Also install pressure-reducing valve.
     Not always installed with residential heaters. Required in some areas.  Expansion tank reduces risk of catastrophic water heater rupture leading to water damage and could prolong life of appliance. Expansion tank usually required with solar and solar-assisted systems

Protect water heater electronics with surge protector.
Save water heater repair and replacement
Many new gas and electric water heaters plug into outlets that are not protected from surge. Gas controls must be replaced after surge event. Many water heaters have blowers and electronics, including digital controls that are not protected from surge. Water heaters are connect to water pipes that are affected when lightning strikes house. Solution: Install whole house surge All electronics should be protected by surge protector. Read water heater manual to see if water heater has electronic parts and would benefit from surge protection.
Water heaters that connect to electricity should have dedicated outlet with correct polarity and ground

Exterior air inlet for gas water heaters:
Undetermined savings - varies
Conditions where outdoor air supply is needed
1 Sq in per 1000 BTU for air intake. Gas heaters draw air into combustion chamber as gas burns and heat goes up vent pipe. Air enters house through cracks from outside and works against heat and air conditioning. Gas heaters designed for high-output and fast-recovery will draw more air than typical gas heater. Tankless gas heaters also draw more air as they consume large amounts of gas to heat water as it passes in pipe. Lack of sufficient air causes 'recirculation of combustion product' causing CO risk to occupants. Consult product manual.

Protect gas water heater 

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