Is your water heater green?

Is your water heater green?

We use warm water every day 
in a myriad of ways — from rinsing dishes to soaking in the tub. When 
we turn the faucet toward “H,” we expect the hot water to gush. Yet, 
how often do we think about the mechanics behind it? In these penny-pinching days, our highly rated experts explain when you should replace your water heater and offer tips to keep 
it running efficiently.

When to replace

Most water heaters are designed 
to last at least 10 to 15 years, but the telltale sign it’s time for a new one is 
a leaking tank. “Some people ... buy 
one every 10 years,” says Greg Greenlee, owner of highly rated Greenlee Plumbing in Braselton, Ga. “But it really doesn’t have to be replaced until it leaks.” 
Costs start at $300 and top $2,000 
for a premium Energy Star unit, not including installation.

Consider tankless

A tankless water heater is the most 
energy efficient unit available to homeowners. Brian Frederick, president of A-rated Joseph Frederick & Sons in Wilmington, Del., says a new tankless 
system will cost around $3,000 installed, but prices can vary if the installer needs 
to rework the gas pipes.

Verify credentials

Before buying a new unit, be sure to hire a licensed plumber who has experience installing water heaters, Frederick says. Proper venting, pipe fitting and gas 
connections are vital to the water heater’s efficiency and the homeowner’s safety.

Switch the rod

If your unit is still relatively new, consider replacing its anode rod, which is designed to attract the corrosive elements in your water. Roy Yehle, owner of highly rated Bill Smith Plumbing & Heating in Englewood, Colo., says getting a new rod every four years should help extend the life of the water heater. “It would cost $55 for the rod and take around 30 minutes to 
install,” he says.

Reduce the temp

To conserve a few bucks — and energy, too — our experts suggest turning down the temperature on the water heater when you go out of town. “Also, wrap it with a water heater insulation kit,” says Troy Huneycutt, owner of highly rated Huneycutt Plumbing in Charlotte, N.C. “It’s well worth the investment.”

Buy an alarm

If you’re not checking the water 
heater for leaks on a regular basis, 
invest in an alarm to do the checking 
for you. “It costs about $10 and you can set it beside the tank. If it was to ever leak, this device — called a Watchdog — will alert you,” Huneycutt says. “It’s another good investment.”





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