Take care of your water heater (11/2/2011)
Your water heater is a workhorse, providing good service – and warm water – day in and day out. But because heating water can account for up to 25 percent of your home’s energy use, it’s important to keep the unit working efficiently and effectively. Here’s what to know:
Gauge the age. A conventional tank gas water heater typically delivers 10 to 12 years of service; electric water heaters can last a bit longer. Water hardness, the quality of the unit and its components, and even the location of the heater can impact how long it will last – but regular maintenance improves your odds for a long life.
Turn down the heat. Most heaters are set at 140 degrees but setting the temperature back to 120 degrees delivers plenty of hot water – and saves you energy. Turning the temperature down also may help increase the life of your unit. Always follow your manufacturer’s directions when adjusting the temperature.
Wrap it up. An insulating blanket costs $20 or less at a hardware or home store, yet it can reduce standby heat loss by up to 25 to 45 percent. Be sure not to install the blanket correctly and cover exhaust vents and air intake valves.
Watch the pressure. Keep an eye on your home’s water pressure. A pressure gauge should show a 60 to 80 psi reading; pressure greater than 80 psi may be damaging your heater, components, or pipes.