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Safety & Energy-Efficiency Tips for Your New Water Heater

The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that 15% of the average American household’s energy consumption is due to its water heater. Even small energy-minded adjustments can make a notable difference in your bill. The DOE also notes a series of best practices that can limit any safety risks associated with your water heater.

Thermostat Setting

The DOE recommends setting your water heater to 120 degrees F. This is an energy-efficient setting that provides comfortable hot water that won’t scald your skin. To check the setting, you’ll typically need to remove the thermostat dial cover with a screwdriver. You can then adjust the dial as needed. It’s particularly important to check a new water heater or ask your plumber, as many models default to 140 degrees F.

Install a Water Heater Jacket

Insulation can dramatically lower the energy costs associated with your water heater. If your unit lacks insulated hoses, cover them with foam insulation. If you have an electric water heater, consider an insulated base. You should also discuss a water heater jacket or blanket with your plumber. This upgrade can lower your heat loss by 25% to 45% and your costs by 7% to 16%. If you do install a jacket and have an electric unit, make sure you never set the thermostat above 130 degrees F, as doing so can cause the wiring to overheat.

Ensure Proper Ventilation

Carbon monoxide is a serious concern when it comes to gas water heaters. A gas water heater should have adequate ventilation, and you should have a plumber inspect the exhaust annually. The DOE also recommends installing CO monitors, testing them, and changing their batteries on a regular basis.

Prepare for a Leak

Consider installing a drip pan if you don’t already have one. You should also clear the water heater’s dedicated area of anything that water can damage. It’s also important to schedule a plumber to flush your water heater once a year. Many homeowners take a break-fix approach to their water heaters, but doing so diminishes appliance lifespan and puts you at greater risk of a leak. Your plumber will drain the pressure relief valve, drain valve, and tank.

Keep an Eye on the Pilot Light

If you have a water heater that burns natural gas, heating oil or propane, it will have a pilot light. It should only be blue. If you ever notice any other color, it suggests a serious safety issue. Disable access to the fuel line and call your plumber to come out and take a look.

If you live in Caldwell or the surrounding areas and need your water heater repaired or replaced, call Lesco Plumbing, Heating & Cooling to schedule an appointment.