Water Heaters Should Be The Next Green Initiative

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Editor’s note: The following is a guest post by Diane Kuehl.  Diane is a home improvement professional and co-owner of DIY Mother. She lives on her farm in Springfield, Illinois with her husband and two kids.

Whether we like it or not, we are all part of the green craze to a certain extent.

Our cars are starting to become more eco-friendly. Solar and wind energy are becoming major talking points in the broader moments of the Presidential election. There are even mobile apps that help us get a little bit greener.

But there are still parts of the home that need serious attention. We waste a lot of water with our traditional plumbing fixtures (toilets, showers, faucets, etc.). Inefficient AC systems can rob you of hard-earned money and drive up your energy use. So-called “phantom” electronics can keep your energy running all day, every day.

But, while all of those are problems that should certainly be looked at and fixed, if possible, the biggest problem in our homes that we probably never think about is the hot water heater.

When It Comes To Carbon Footprints, Water Heaters Take The Cake

It really shouldn’t surprise anyone. Your hot water heater is always running, and depending on your in-home water usage habits, the hot water heater can be put into overdrive quite often. It is this fact that makes the water heater one of the biggest burdens on the environment, one that no one ever thinks about.

Water heaters actually produce as much, if not more, CO2 than your typical automobile.  At nearly 6,400 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, the water heater produces about eight tons of carbon dioxide annually, which doubles that of the standard automobile.

Not only is the water heater one of the biggest burdens on the environment out there, it can also really hurt your wallet. As you can see above, that’s a lot of energy usage, and with energy and gas prices on the rise, you’re only going to be paying more in the future.

Eco-Friendly Alternatives

The numbers can be a bit staggering. More CO2 than an automobile? That’s just awful. But, the fact of the matter is that traditional water heaters can last up to 20 years in most cases. Replacing them may not be entirely feasible, but it is possible to lessen the effect of the water heater by taking care in other parts of the home.

High-efficiency plumbing fixtures

Your typical showerhead and faucet consume 2.5 gallons of water per minute, which equals about 40 percent of your home’s total water usage.  Switching to high-efficiency plumbing fixtures can cut the amount of water used by these two features in half. Not only will you save a whole lot of water, but you’ll also save energy and reduce your water heating bills and eco footprint.

You can also lessen the burden on your water heater by lowering your showerhead – this will target the water stream more, meaning you will need to use less water. If you’ve got dripping taps, you are wasting a lot of water. With a quick fix, you can save a lot on your water bill, as well as save your water heater. Finally, washing clothes or dishes with less than a full load is a waste of water and energy.  Plus you’ll save money!

Instant Water Heaters

Maybe you do have the option to switch out your water heater. There are more eco-friendly options than the tank-style water heater you’ve got in your basement right now.

Instant water heaters (also known as tankless water heaters) are popular because, unlike traditional water heaters that heat water using an immersion tank regardless how much water is needed, tankless models heat only the water that is required.

Check out water heaters that are part of the government’s EnergyStar program for the most eco-friendly options.

Solar Water Heaters

Solar water heaters are pretty expensive right out of the gate.  A solar water heater costs anywhere from $1,500 to $3,500 initially, including installation, but these water heaters run on the power of the sun, allowing you to cut heating your water out of the electric/gas bill entirely. Plus, the government has a homeowners’ tax credit that helps offset the cost of installation. This is a tax credit of up to 30 percent, with a $2,000 cap.

No matter the hot water heater situation in your home, there are options that will help you lower that energy bill and reduce the sizeable carbon footprint of your hot water heater.

Diane Kuehl is a home improvement professional and co-owner of DIY Mother. She lives on her farm in Springfield, Illinois with her husband and two kids.

Tag(s): Conserving Resources, Energy, Greening the Home

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One Response to “Water Heaters Should Be The Next Green Initiative”

  1. Water Heaters Should Be The Next Green Initiative | Eco Custom Home's Newsroom on October 27th, 2012 8:54 am

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