In order to ensure energy efficiency and to prolong the life of the water heater, one needs to take into consideration various factors. When a water heater starts to fail, the malfunction is usually apparent due to the water heater making strange sounds or water being too hot, or not hot enough. Before your water heater reaches this stage, there are a few preventive measures that can be taken which will not only prolong the life of the water heater but also help in saving energy. According to the EERE, by reducing the thermostat of your water heater by 10˚F you can save up to 5% of your energy costs. Reducing the heat of the water also helps in reducing the slow mineral buildup and corrosion that can occur in water pipes.
Every water heater comes equipped with a drain valve. The drain valve needs to be opened on a periodic basis and the water needs to be flushed through the tank. This will help in removing sediment that may have accumulated in the tank.
The temperature pressure build up of the tank needs to be checked once a year. This is done by operating the pressure release valve and draining water from the overflow pipe. If the tank is not heating properly then make minor adjustments to the thermostat and see if that helps. In some storage water heaters, this involves unscrewing the side panels of the heater. The insulation of the heater is removed to make access to the thermostat possible.
The optimum temperature settings on a water heater will vary from place to place and is determined by what the hot water is used for. Hot water for a dishwasher will have to be 140-160°F. For bathing purposes, it is ideal to heat the water at a temperature of 105°F for both young children and the elderly. In order to achieve the ideal water temperature and to ensure that people do not get scalded, temperature regulating valves should be used. These devices are fitted near faucets and shower heads and helps prevent a person from being scalded if there is a pressure drop in cold water.
When you own a central water heater, remember to turn it to the lowest thermostat setting when you go away for vacation. Another option is to switch off the water heater by tripping the heater's dedicated electric circuit breaker.