Why pay money to scald yourself by having 140°F water when 110° to 120°F water is absolutely adequate? By readjusting your tank thermostat you will cut down 3 to 5 percent off your water heating bills for each 10-degree reduction you make. And it’s an easy job! Just follow these steps:
1. Disconnect the circuit breaker or fuse operating the water heater.
2. Take out the top and bottom cover plates then push back the insulation to uncover the thermostats. Other small tanks may have only one thermostat.
3. Use a screwdriver to adjust the settings. Some models include numerical settings; others are marked High-Medium-Low. Reset both thermostats to 110°F or Low. If this turns out to be uncomfortably low, you can knock the settings back up a little.
4. Put back the insulation and plates. Turn the circuit breaker back on.
Lowering the tank temperature is not recommended if you have a dishwasher without a booster heater, since the machine requires 140°F water to do its job correctly. The advantage of having a booster heater on your dishwasher turns obvious when you stop to think that without it, you’re heating all your household water to 140°F only to accommodate the dishwasher.
Probably no energy conservation measure has been so widely encouraged as insulation wraps for water heaters for a good reason. It’s an easy, simple, cost-effective step that will pay for itself in four to seven months.
There are ready-made wraps you could get for about $40 that are a snap to set up. You can get even better results by spending $30 on a roll of six-inch builder’s insulation and wrapping the tank yourself. If you have gas water heaters, see to it that you do not restrict air flow around the combustion chamber at the bottom of the tank or around the vent stack on top. On electric models, the overflow valve and control panel must be left uncovered.) A lot of utilities provide free tank wraps. And others would even do the installation for you.
Insulate the Pipes
Besides insulating the water heater, you would want to insulate your hot water pipes, particularly if they run through unheated space. Foam or compressed fiberglass tubing insulation costs 30 cents to 80 cents per foot and generally saves about 50 cents per foot a year. But before you begin, give your local utility company a call. Many utilities offer free pipe wraps (along with free tank wraps). Some would even do the installation for you.