Loops & Timers. Two more simple and cost-effective measures can reduce your water heating costs. If the hot or cold water outlets and inlets run vertically alongside your water heater, convection will cause heat loss. Anticonvection valves and loops work by preventing these losses through the inlet and outlet pipes of the water heater, and installing them can save from 2 to 7 percent on water heating energy use. These simple plumbing devices cost from US$5 to $10. Most new tank-style water heaters come with anticonvection valves or balls—the things you sometimes hear rattling around at the top of the tank. Also, simply having a high spot in the plumbing to the tank will minimize convection.
Consider turning an electric water heater off during certain periods—like during the night when no hot water is being used. You can install a timer for US$30 to $60 that will automatically turn the water heater on and off at preset times. For example, a water heater can be set to go on 30 minutes before you usually take a shower, or wash dishes or laundry, and then be set to go off again soon afterward. Energy savings between 5 and 12 percent per year help pay off this investment quickly.
Every degree Fahrenheit you dial down your home’s thermostat shaves about three percent off your heating bill. While this doesn’t sound like much, consider this: Adjusting your thermostat just 2°F (from 70°F to 68°F), saves you 6 percent. Combine the overall drop of 2°F with an additional nighttime drop of 5°F or more and you’ll cut at least 11 percent from your bill. It’s that simple. For about US$30, you can buy a programmable thermostat that will remember to do that for you—easy savings.
Energy efficiency is really a win-win situation. Take these simple steps to bundle up—you’ll save energy and increase your home’s comfort, while saving your hard-earned dollars and reducing pollution.
Builder’s Guide series by Joseph Lstiburek, US$45 each from Building Science Corp. • www.buildingscience.com