7/5/2013 6:01:00 AM Ask the Contractor: Tips on saving energy, water and money
Sandy Griffis Yavapai County Contractors Association
Q: Are there any tricks to saving energy with our standard conventional water heater?-Lou and Donna, Camp Verde
A: I call the conventional water heater a "loser" when it comes to saving energy because it must work day in and day out to keep the water hot and ready for our needs. When the water is just sitting and begins cooling down, the heating element kicks on and warms the water back up - and this is an ongoing cycle that is constantly repeated throughout the day and night.
Using our HVAC system is the number-one energy user. The conventional water heater is the second-largest user of energy.
There are a few things you can do to conserve energy use, the first being to turn down the thermostat. The Department of Energy recommends setting the thermostat at 120 degrees, which distributes hot enough water for household use.
Arizona Green Plumber suggests measuring the temperature of your hot water versus using the registration of the thermostat to give a more accurate reading. Over time, thermostats lose their accuracy. You measure the temperature of the hot water from the faucet that is the farthest away from the heater. To remember this temperature setting, you should mark the thermostat and then turn the thermostat to the 120-degree temperature and wait at least two hours to measure the temperature again. You will now know where your thermostat should be set for 120.
Some thermostats do not have numbered temperature settings, so set the thermostat between low and medium and measure the same way.
Another way to save energy would be, of course, to use less hot water. Low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators can be installed and this will cut hot water consumption by a minimum of 25 percent. A family of four showering 5 minutes per day uses 700 gallons of water each week or 36,400 gallons per year. Installing the low-flow items, you can save 14,000 gallons per year.
It is important to drain the sediment from the tank, which reduces efficiency and will keep the tank running longer. Most tank manufactures recommend draining the tank once or twice a year. However, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends draining the tank of less water and more often - just draining a quarter every three months.
Also, make sure you insulate the water pipes, then the water will arrive at the faucet output a least 3-4 degrees warmer, which means you will not have to run the water as long for hot water.
You can also consider installing a hot water re-circ pump which will certainly save energy and water consumption.
The City of Prescott will be holding its mayor and council elections in August. YCCA, along with Central Arizona Partnership, National Bank and Prescott Area Association of Realtors, will be holding a co-sponsored candidate forum 5 p.m. Thursday, July 25, at the Hassayampa Inn in the Marina Room. This is an important election for the citizens of Prescott. Plan to attend to find out how these candidates plan to best serve the interests and concerns of the community.
Yavapai County Contractors Association (YCCA) is a professional association representing licensed, bonded and insured contractors, suppliers, distributors and business entities. Call YCCA for information on hiring a contractor at 778-0040. Submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or through www.ycca.org.