How to Make an Electric Water Heater More Efficient
LESLIE: In Nevada, Thomas is looking to save some energy bills this year.
Thomas, how can we help?
THOMAS: Yeah, how are you?
LESLIE: Good. How are you? Tell us what’s going on.
THOMAS: Good. Hey, you know, I’ve got an electric water heater and I’m just wondering is there any way I can save energy by like installing in some kind of device where – I heard about this – someone told me a while back about this. I just wasn’t sure what to look for when I go to the department store.
TOM: Sure. Yeah, there’s two things that you can do. One thing, Leslie, would be a blanket, right?
LESLIE: Yeah, can you use those even on the electric ones?
TOM: You absolutely can use them on electric ones.
LESLIE: And that’s only a $10 investment.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. It doesn’t cost a whole bunch of money. You basically wrap it around the outside of the water heater; gives you additional insulation.
The second thing that you can do is probably even more effective is to put a 240-volt timer on that. The way that works, Tom, is it basically turns the power off to the water heater in the middle of the night and during the day when you’re not using it and it brings the power on in the morning when you need it or in the evening when you’re doing your showers and dishes and stuff. So it basically cuts down the amount of time the water heater is actually heating.
But there’s even a better option than that and that is when it comes time to replace your water heater, put in an instant hot water heater, a tankless water heater, because that delivers water only when you need it and it doesn’t heat it when you don’t and that’s what makes it more efficient.
THOMAS: Now how do you know if you have that heater already? Because we just moved into this house; a brand, new house.
TOM: Do you have a big tank?
THOMAS: You know, it’s – we used to have a gas water heater and, gosh, I don’t know how big it’s supposed to be, an electric water heater. I think the maybe 50-gallon maybe.
TOM: Yeah, that’s not a tankless water heater because you would not have a tank if it was tankless. That’s a standard electric water heater and the two best ways to save money on that are to insulate the water heater and to add a 240-volt timer to it.
LESLIE: Tom, what’s the general lifespan?
TOM: Probably 10 to 15 years.
LESLIE: So if you just got it, don’t go replacing it right away.
TOM: Yeah. Well …
THOMAS: Do I need a professional to come out and install the timer or is it something I can do it myself?
TOM: No, it’s 240-volt electricity. I would not do it yourself unless you’re real familiar with electricity.
THOMAS: I see, OK.
TOM: But it’s not hard to do.
THOMAS: Alrighty. OK, well I’ll try that.
TOM: OK, well thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.