Green Options for Water Heaters - dummies

By Eric Corey Freed

The typical water heater runs all day and night to keep up to 100 gallons of water hot and ready for use. For a more eco-friendly experience, try alternatives that offer the same hot water without the constant energy use.

1Try a tankless water heater.

A tankless water heater heats only the water you use. Cold water enters at the bottom, where an efficient gas heater rapidly brings the water to a near boil. When you turn off the hot water, the tankless heater shuts off. The heater can be located close to the kitchen or bath so the water doesn’t need to travel far.

Tankless water heaters cost about twice as much as standard water heaters, but the energy and water savings will pay for the tankless heater within one to five years.

2Recirculate hot water.

A hot water recirculation system uses a pump to rush hot water where needed, saving you money on your energy and water bills. Activated by the push of a button, a thermostat, timer, or motion sensor, the pump starts recirculating cooled water that’s been sitting in the hot water line and sends it back to the water heater through the cold water line. Instead of allowing the cold water to go down the drain, it goes back to the water heater.

3Recover heat.

A drain-water heat recovery system is a $300 fixture a plumber installs under the drain in your tub or shower. The system recovers the heat out of the water that goes down the drain and circulates the heat — not the water — back to the showerhead or water heater.