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Reliance Plumbing Sewer & Drainage, Inc. Blog

How the Water Heater Can Raise Your Energy Bills

Few appliances in a home use up as much power as the water heater. Heating and air conditioning systems account for significant power consumption, but these are seasonal appliances. A water heater will run almost every day, and whether it’s an electric or gas-powered unit, it’s probably the biggest source of energy consumption in your house.

So when you start to see a sharp rise in your utility bills, one of the first culprits to consider is the water heater. Is your home’s water heater responsible for these high energy costs?

The Tank Water Heater Dilemma

You probably have a storage-tank water heater for your home. These are the most common water heaters in Wilmette, IL and throughout Chicagoland, even if tankless units are making inroads. Although tank water heaters can deliver hot water fast to taps, they have the disadvantage of standby energy loss. Heat continually escapes from the tank, forcing the water heater’s power source (gas or electric) to run to replace it and keep the water at a set temperature. This means a tank water heater runs even when there’s no demand for hot water, and this is the main reason for the water heater’s high energy consumption.

Why Your Water Heater May Be Raising Your Bills

Now you know why water heaters are large eaters of energy. But why has your water heater started to become even costlier to run? There are several possibilities. 

  • The water heater is too old. The average service life of a tank water heater is around 12 years. An older unit will start to wear down rapidly and use more power to do its job. A rise in utility costs for an old water heater is a good sign that it’s time to replace it.
  • Sediment and scaling. Sediment builds up inside a water heater tank over time, and this will force the gas to run for longer to send heat into the tank. Scaling from hard water will have a similar effect, and scaling on heating elements will become a problem for an electric water heater. A professional tank flush and cleaning may solve the problem, and we also recommend installing a water softener to counteract the hard water.
  • Hidden leaks. If you have leaks in your hot water lines (such as the common slab leak), the loss of hot water will force the water heater to turn on more often than it should. The leaks will need to be repaired.
  • General malfunctions: There are several repair issues that will force a water heater to work harder than normal. These include a faulty aquastat (the thermostat controlling the water heater’s temperature), a broken dip tube, corrosion on the heat exchanger, etc. We recommend calling our technicians to examine the water heater and identify what repairs it needs and if a replacement is a better option.

If you do need to have your water heater replaced, we recommend looking into having a tankless unit installed. These water heaters use far less power to run and can pay for their installation costs over only a few years.

Reliance Plumbing Sewer & Drainage, Inc. serves the Northshore and Northwest Chicagoland. Call us for full service for water heaters, including repairs and new system installations. 

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