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Water heater, we need to talk

by Nicole Bogdanovic
July 4, 2016

Energy efficiency

​Is your water heater an energy-draining has-been or the energy-efficient lifeblood of your morning shower?  

Thankfully, getting to know that large, mysterious tank in your home can give you peace of mind each time you reach for the tap—it will help you save money, energy and water, plus avoid costly surprises.  

Nice to meet you, water heater 

As with any good relationship, it’s best to introduce yourself to your water heater by asking some get-to-know-you questions, such as where is it? How old is it? Is it in good shape? Does it provide enough hot water for your household or are you heating a container full of water that goes mostly unused? And perhaps most importantly, where does it get its energy from—natural gas or electricity? 

Water heating can account for 25 per cent of your household energy use* so homeowners and renters alike benefit from knowing which energy bill their hot water use affects—natural gas or electricity. Understanding how your water is heated also determines the best way to maintain the appliance over time.  

Is this relationship right for you? 

There's give and take in every good relationship, so if the energy it takes to heat water in your home lines up with your needs, that’s great. And, if the age, efficiency and physical condition also rate well, with a little annual maintenance, you could enjoy many long and happy years together.  

But if you have a tankful of heated water that you don’t need or if you are trying to meet your needs with an older, inefficient, poorly insulated model, this can have a big effect on your monthly costs and waste energy.  

Water heater, we need to talk 

Breaking up is hard, but it’s usually for the best. If your hot water tank is no longer your morning shower bestie, it may be time to move on.  

If cost is a factor, you can find out how much your hot water appliance may be costing you to operate by comparing with other models using the appliance cost tool.  

Also, a rusty, out-of-shape, poorly maintained water tank can have serious consequences in your home if it fails. Check for these tell-tale signs to see if it’s time for replacement.  

Choose your next hot water bestie carefully 

Moving on can be a challenge with the many models to choose from and installation factors to consider, but don't let that get in the way of a guilt-free shower. 

Whether you are looking for a conventional storage tank model or a sleek and modern tankless version to be your next warm-water friend, you may be happy to know we’ve shortlisted energy-efficient performers through our ENERGY STAR® Water Heater Program. Choose one of these high-efficiency models and you could qualify for rebates from $200 to $1,000. Since 2012, this program has helped connect more than 13,000 residential customers with energy-saving water heaters.  

If you’re heating water with electricity, you could also consider a high-efficiency heat pump model. We have offers for our electricity customers, too.   

Get counselled by a pro 

Start your new relationship off right by working with a licensed contractor. They can help you assess your needs before you invest, make sure the unit is the right size for your needs, and most importantly, installed safely so you can enjoy years of trouble-free water heating.  

Any good relationship takes a bit of maintenance  

This is true for your water heater as well. Treat it well and it can be your hot water bestie for years to come.  

That means having it serviced annually, like all your natural gas appliances, by a licensed contractor.  

Build a healthier relationship with hot water  

Even with an energy-efficient hot water system, it’s important to be mindful of the amount of hot water each person uses. In a home, hot water is mostly used for washing dishes, doing laundry and taking baths and showers. Just switching to water-efficient faucets and showerheads can save more than $30 per year**. If you also take steps like washing clothes in cold water and taking shorter showers, it all adds up to conserving both water and energy, reducing your energy bills and being kinder to the environment. That’s energy at work. 




 *Natural Resources Canada, Office of Energy Efficiency, Residential Sector British Columbia, Table 2: Secondary Energy Use and GHG Emissions by End-Use
 **Subject can save 1,620 litres of water a month by switching from a 17 LPM to 6.5 LPM showerhead taking daily five-minute showers. Calculation: 1,620 *.65 (percentage of water that is hot) *4,187 joules (amount of natural gas it takes to heat one litre of water) *45 °C temperature rise of cold to hot water / .55 (efficiency of a standard storage tank water heater) = 305,232,300 joules or 0.305 gigajoules/month or 4.32 GJ/year. Savings of $32 is based on $7.57 per gigajoule April 2016 FortisBC natural gas residential rate in Lower Mainland.