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Hot Water Heater Health


What’s the most ignored household appliance? The hot water heater.

It’s one of the biggest uses of energy in your home, accounting for 14% to 18% of most household’s total energy costs — between $400 and $600 per year.

The average hot water heater lasts about 10-12 years, but there are ways to extend its life.  

  • For starters, keep the area around the hot water heater clean.
  • Two or three times a year, empty about 1/4 of the water into a garden hose that leads outside to remove any sediment. This will help increase its efficiency.
  • It’s also not a bad idea to be sure the temperature-pressure relief by discharging it and then looking for leaks.
  • If you have an older unit, you could wrap it in fiberglass to improve efficiency. The hot water pipes leading out of the unit can be wrapped to increase efficiency also. All units should be set no higher than 120 degrees to prevent scalding.
  • Many units have a “Vacation” setting which you can use when you’re away so that the hot water heater won’t keep heating water.

Is it better to repair or replace a faulty hot water heater?

There are some inexpensive (under $300) fixes that might repair your hot water heater. For example, if the pilot light flickers out or if the thermostat fails, they can usually be repaired pretty easily. But if the hot water heater is leaking or is already at the end of its life, a newer model will save you plenty of money in the long run because the newer models are more efficient.

Treat your hot water heater well, and it should give you more than a decade of hot water.


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