Getting The Most From Your Water Heater

If yours is a typical family, daylight brings about a multitude of showerers and bathers preparing for the business day, child and home care day, and school day. Invariably, this entails a lot hot water hogging while various family members stand outside the bathroom doors shouting “Hurry up! I’m late!” Financial-conscious fathers mutter “What’s she doing? I could have bathed a baby elephant with that much water.” Woe to the last person in the bathroom line; he or she is the most susceptible to having to make do with a barely-tepid hasty dowsing. Showers, shampoos, baby baths, make-up applications, hair styling, even coffee-making all involve the strenuous use of the family home’s water heater. Thus, the water heater’s gallon capacity and the rapidity of its ability to heat much-needed water are of serious priority. Consider: even after family members depart for school or work, stay-out-home spouses still have laundry to do, dishwashers to fill, and floors to mop. Again, the water heater’s dependability and capacity is sorely tested. By the end of the day, when dinner dishes are washed, baby is bathed, and faces are washed, your water heater is the un-noticed hero; when you turn on the hot water faucet, you usually get what you expect and only notice this appliance when it’s not working.

What Kind Of Water Heater Is Best For Me?

That depends. If you and your partner are the only ones in the home, you will likely do well with a smaller water heater that has “instant demand” capability. This means that the heater turns cold water into hot water very rapidly. These water heaters need to be fairly small – around 20 gallons – to heat up quickly.

However, a family of four will do much better with a water heater with a capacity of 50-60 gallons to meet the morning, daytime, and evening needs of personal hygiene, cooking and cleaning. Once the hot water supply is depleted, it usually takes about an hour for the hot water to appear in your faucets.

Expense is another thing to consider when purchasing a water heater for your home. You can buy a good-quality heater for $300-700 depending upon how many gallons you require to meet the needs of your family and whether you also purchase a warranty (recommended).

Finally, your water heater uses a variety of heat sources; natural gas, electricity, even solar power. With electric heaters you don’t have be concerned about losing the pilot light as with gas heaters, nor does your hot water availability depend upon the strength of the sun. Electric water heaters are a bit more expensive; you pay extra for the assurance that barring an electrical failure, your family’s needs for baths, showers and clean dishes is assured.

Patio Heaters As Outdoor Accessories

Fireplaces or wood-burning stoves have become commonplace in homes where the winters are long, dark and cold. In any given cold-climate city or town, the woodcutters start their businesses around the first week in October. Racks of wood outside back doors become as oft-seen as roses were in the spring. Plus, we now have indoor stoves that burn pellets – cleaner and more efficient than raw-cut firewood.

If we’re safely warmed by our stove or fireplace, why would we want to venture outside to lounge on the patio when the temperature hovers around forty degrees? Simple; patio heaters are gaining enormous popularity as outdoor accessories. In mildly cool areas of the country, we need not be deprived of the glorious site of a star-filled sky and the smell of fresh balsam pine. With a patio heater, we can enjoy the outdoors in autumn rather than retreat into our centrally-heated homes. There’s something magical about gathering around an open fire –indoors or outdoors- and patio heaters are rapidly becoming sought-after accessories.

How Do I Choose A Patio Heater?

There are so many styles and sizes of patio heaters, it just depends upon you own personal preference. Many heaters are actually built into the patio itself as an in-ground fire pit. Fuel such as wood, charcoal and pellets are used in these heaters. Others are built out of brick or ceramic and can take any shape desired by the buyer. Most popular among these free-standing patio heaters are those that are round, pot-belly stove shaped, or square. Each has a “pit” area for the fuel to be burned, plus a ventilation hole on top. The type of ventilation needed depends upon the fuel you plan to use in your patio heater. Cut cordwood burns hotter and longer, but pellets burn cleaner, with less smoke. Patio heaters do more than provide warmth on a crisp November night; they also provide ambiance and style to your patio setting.

Choose a patio heater that you can comfortably afford, taking into account the additional expense of the fuel you plan to use. Describe your patio setting to the merchant, or better still, do business with a merchant that will come to your home and suggest the style of patio heater best for your setting and desires. Also take into account the frequency of which you plan to use your patio heater; occasional use until “hard” winter sets in or more frequent use if you live in a climate with milder winters. This is an accessory that, properly cared for, will last for many years. Consider your patio heater as you would your indoor fireplace; as an accessory that will become a significant part of your family life. Choose a style that you’ll still appreciate many autumns and winters in the future.

Keep Fish Alive With Floating Pond Heater

If you have a backyard pond, especially one containing fish, it may be wise to consider a floating pond heater. Living in an area of the country which realizes extreme temperature variations during the winter, a means of allowing poisonous gases to escape from underneath an ice covering will help keep your pond in a more inhabitable condition.

Rotting vegetation under the water can produce gases which not only cause a foul odor in the water, they can be deadly to fish and possibly to other plant life. By providing a hole by using a floating pond heater, through which these gases can escape, will make a healthier aquatic habitat.

Additionally, by providing a hole in the ice cover, needed oxygen will also be replenished into the water. Some folks may prefer to manually poke holes in the ice, but a floating pond heater can keep a hole opened without having to confront the ice personally.

Keep Opening Available Throughout The Winter

Most floating pond heaters are powered by electric, usually with a ten foot cord, allowing it to float through the water, but limiting the size of the hole. By allowing it to float freely over the pond, it may not be concentrating enough heat in one area to maintain the opening.

The floating pond heater can be placed in the water before the ice forms, and a thermostat allows for it to be turned on and off at a specific temperature. For example, A typical setting of 40 degrees will not turn the unit on until the air temperature reaches that point. When it gets below the set temperature, it will turn on and prevent the ice from forming in the space in which it is floating.

When the air temperature rises above the setting, a floating pond heater will automatically turn off so as not to waste power when the pond probably will not freeze over anyhow. Thus it can be placed in the water in the fall and left to do its job as required until the threat of a freeze has passed. It can then be removed until next winter.

Of course a floating pond heater may have other uses than keeping a hole open in the ice on a pond. A person with outdoor animals may use one to keep ice from forming on a water source for those animals. It can also be used to allow for a water source for wild outdoor animals who may have to go without fresh water when ponds and streams are frozen over in the winter.

Swim Longer With Solar Pool Heater

The high price of utilities may be causing some swimming pool owners to winterize their pools earlier tan they would like. However, providing warm water with a solar pool heater could extend your swimming season without extending your budget.

Heated pools are pretty much the norm these days, especially in colder climates where water temperatures under 75 degrees or even 80 degrees are undesirable to some. Yet the escalating cost of utilities have people putting an early end to family and neighborhood swimming earlier in the year to the higher costs associated with heating the water.

A solar pool heater operates much the same as one operated by electric, gas, oil or propane, except that other than the initial costs, there is no operating expense. Since the sun hits the installed solar panels, providing power to the solar pool heater it doesn’t require any other paid utilities.

However, installation costs of a solar pool heater can be higher than other heating sources, other utilities can also be used, sharing the burden of heating the water. Even by partially powering the pool’s heater with a solar pool heater can reduce other costs significantly.

Extending The Time For Pool Use

For example, an outdoor pool in the northernmost part of the United States, is usually able to be used only up to two months without any source with which to heat the water. By using a solar pool heater, the pool can be used for up to five months. And since it’s a solar pool heater, once the initial cost of installation is paid, there are no monthly utility charges.

For a swimming pool, for example 15 feet by 30 feet, a solar pool heater kit is available for about $2,000. It can be installed professionally for another $1,000 or less. The size of the solar pool heater needed is totally dependent on the size of the pool and the geographical location. The colder the climate and the larger the pool, the larger the heater will need to be.

Solar pool heaters are powered by solar panels typically installed on a south-facing roof and must have a clear path for power connections through the house to the heater. It is recommended that run be no more than 40 feet. Most handy homeowners could install a solar pool heater themselves in about two days, it is high recommended, and in some locations required, that electrical connections be made by a licensed professional.

The Efficiency Of The Infrared Heater

Boosting the efficiency of a central home heating system is a combination of two things: efficiently using the existing heater and adding an efficient heater where needed. Naturally, when heating costs rise the response is to check for drafts and boost the insulation. At the beginning of heating season, make sure that window caulking and storm windows are in good shape. Get thermostats in working order and install timers if necessary. If you still need to add a little more warmth to a part of the house, consider heating up just the area with a space heater.

Efficient Heat

If you want to add a space heater to a bedroom or hallway, do your homework. Most heaters use energy to warm up the entire area, wall to wall. People within the area are warmed by the air. There is a kind of heater that doesn’t heat up all of the air. It heats the objects in its path directly. People in the area are warmed by the heater itself not the air. All of the energy consumed goes to warming the desired objects (like people) instead of warming the air from floor to ceiling. This type of heater is the infrared heater. Heat is transferred by radiation instantly. You don’t have to turn the heater on a half hour or hour before you need warmth to pre-heat the room. You receive the warmth immediately.

Some types of infrared heater you are likely to find are metal-sheathed tubular heaters, quartz tubes, quartz lamps, gas fired catalytic, flat-faced panels and ceramic emitters. Typically, the heaters have a protective sheath to cover the heating elements. Often, there is a choice of sheathing material including metals such as aluminum, brass, copper, iron, stainless steel and so on. Available options vary from model to model. All home models offer safe, protected heating elements. Blowing curtains won’t become a fire hazard with an infrared heater.

Infrared heat is similar to solar heat. It doesn’t burn the oxygen in the room or dry it out because the air is not heated. You can find an infrared heater to fit your needs exactly. They are available for indoor or outdoor use, using electricity, propane or other types of fuel, to heat objects in a precisely directed area or in a wider room-sized area. If your goal is efficient heating, educate yourself. You may want to begin by learning more about the infrared heater.

Heaters Are Necessities Of Life

Wherever you live, chances are good that you will need a heater of some sort in your life. Since early mankind discovered fire, heaters have been used for warmth, cooking, and protection from enemies. The Encarta dictionary defines a heater as “a device that uses some kind of fuel to produce heat in order to make something warm or hot, especially a device to heat the air in a room or vehicle.” However, heaters have many other functions as well; unless you eat only raw food, including meat, you will need a heater to cook with; a stove, oven and various electrical appliances that cook your food. You need to heat your bath or shower water; this not only provides personal comfort, but aids in killing harmful bacteria on your skin. Even if you live in hot, desert areas of the world, it’s well-known that deserts cool down dramatically at night; you’ll find yourself shivering without a heater. Heat also plays a crucial industrial role by liquefying metals so they can be formed into tools, automobiles, appliances, etc. Many chemical reactions also require heaters that produce energy such as gasoline.

How Do Heaters Work?

Heating processes are designed to produce and regulate thermal conditions within buildings, for industrial use, and for comfort. Heaters cause temperature rises via electricity, gas, or solar energy. Thus, if you have and stove and oven in your home, it may be heated by electrical current or by natural gas. Other forms of fuel are also used, such as propane, gasoline and kerosene. All these substances form the chemical reaction of producing heat; this is great if you want to cook your food or warm up a room. It can be disastrous if gasoline and other flammables are over-exposed to a heat source that subsequently causes an explosion of flames and intense heat, destroying structures and people alike.

Heaters, therefore, must be cautiously used so that they perform their desired purpose without causing destruction. Any heat source carelessly used or unsupervised can mean unprecedented disaster.

Extreme cold can causes illness, injury and even death by freezing. Inhabitants of northern or southern arctic regions of the world employ some sort of heater to help them survive long, dark, cold winters. These devises range from simple open fires to built-in fireplaces. Similarly, livestock must also be kept warm during winter. Many species of animals have cold-resistant fur or feathers, but domesticated animals like cows, sheep, hogs and horses need a heating device in their stables or barns to keep warm. Losing livestock to extreme cold can mean economic devastation to farmers and ranchers.

Heat is a life-giving necessity. Excesses in temperature (heat or cold) are responsible for loss of life and economic security as well as personal discomfort.

Need Determines Size Of Electric Water Heater

Whether building a new home, remodeling an older home planning your current and future needs can help you pick the right size electric water heater so you don’t have to suffer cold showers.

An electric water heater is basically a storage tank into which cold water flows. There is a switch, which shuts off the flow of water when it gets full. Most electric water heaters have two electric elements, which heat the water and keep it hot until it’s used and replaced by colder water. Each element is controlled by thermostats.

While an electric water heater can be as small as six gallons or as large as 120 gallons, the average family can generally be served with a 52-gallon electric water heater. However, the larger the family, the more capacity will be needed. When planning your needs you should also plan for potential growth of your family as well as the frequency of visitors, which may increase your need for additional hot water.

An electric water heater offers several advantages over gas, for example, as not having to be vented and it can be installed closer to walls and they do not have a pilot light which requires a small open flame or a thermocouple to keep the pilot light burning, which generally needs replaced every year or so. There is also less chance of overheating.

Adjust Temperature To Your Choosing

Another feature of an electric water heater, like most others, is the ability to adjust the temperature of the water through the use of a thermostat. By raising, or lowering, the water’s temperature, it can be adjusted to the family’s liking.

Electric water heaters also have built-in protection for pressure build-up in the form of a pressure relief valve. Occasionally pressure may build up and if it reaches a point higher than the check valve on the water line, it could push the hot water back into the feed line. This pressure release valve will harmlessly release any over pressure. However, having a leak from the pressure valve may be an indication of some other problem, which needs attention.

While maintenance on an electric water heater is minimal, problems can arise and unless the homeowner is experienced in plumbing and electrical repairs, it may be best to leave any repair or replacement to professionals. This could lessen the time needed to male repairs, or replace the unit, ensuring you have the hot water when it’s needed.

Saving Money With A Bedroom Heater

It seems like money spent in the summer is spent on fun while money spent in the winter is spent on necessities. If it were possible to spend less winter money, there might be more summer money available. Even those who live in the warmest parts of the world have to budget for winter heating. There are always ways to trim that expenditure a bit.

The Space Heater

Before adding any new heating elements, make sure that all of the existing heating is as efficient as possible. Check for drafts and look into increasing insulation as necessary. A draft barrier around the outside doors might save a few dollars and storm windows can make a difference in most climates.

That said, how can you adjust your heat to do the best job? Timers can be added to your central heating to turn temperatures down when you don’t need it. If there is no one home during the day, set the timer to start warming the house in time to be greeted by a toasty home after work. This only works if there are no pets, of course. During the work week, you may only need a warm living room, bathroom and kitchen for a few hours each evening. One third of your life is spent in bed. Turning down the central heating at night and adding a bedroom heater could make a large saving.

There are many varieties of space or wall heaters that can serve as a bedroom heater. Choose a form of fuel that is economical in your area. Propane or electricity should be good for most. Select one that doesn’t need constant attention. You’ll be asleep for most of its operating hours. Avoid an exposed radiant element for your bedroom heater. One night of open window sleeping could mean curtains blowing across a heating element and a fire. That sort of bedroom heater can’t be used with timers either. You’ll want higher heat as you’re preparing for bed and a timed increase just before the alarm goes off. While you’re under the covers or after you’ve showered and dressed, the heat is less important. The new models of bedroom heater can easily be adjusted for blustery weather, too.

The point is that there is no sense in heating an entire house all night any more than there is any sense in waking to a freezing room. The energy-efficient bedroom heater is the answer to both problems.

The Mysteries Of Heater Immersion

As the prices of heating fuel soar, many homeowners have become curious about exactly how their home and the water in it are heated, are kept heated and how they might become heated in a more energy-efficient way. Some hot water heaters, for instance, heat the water and keep it warm until it’s used. Other types don’t heat the water until it’s needed, saving the energy needed to keep it hot. Many of the storage types use heater immersion to heat the water. With heater immersion, an electrical element fits into the side of the water tank with the thermostat extending to the exterior of the tank for easy use.

Types Of Heaters

The common storage tank heater can be made more efficient by adding a timer to your heater immersion device to heat the water at off-peak times when energy is less costly. Even if that option is not available in your area, your storage tank can become more efficient by the addition of insulation around it. The less heat is lost to the surrounding area, the less energy is used to keep it warm. You may have an indirect water heater system. This means that your furnace or boiler heats your water while it heats the house. Most often, hot water from a boiler circulates through a heat exchanger in a nearby tank. Less often, a heat exchanger coil filled with water to be heated circulates through a furnace then through the storage tank. Since the exchanger penetrates the tank in either case, it is similar to the heater immersion method. Using modern equipment, this is often the most efficient system. The storage tanks are efficiently insulated, the heating equipment is high-efficiency and the need for the heater to turn on and off is much less frequent.

The on demand water heaters don’t use energy to warm storage tanks. The most efficient ones use natural gas and an electronic ignition to save on energy used in a pilot light. Solar heaters are making a comeback from the 1970s. While the sun’s energy is cost-efficient, the start-up costs are higher since tax credits are no longer available. However, today’s less expensive units compare with electric and propane heaters over the lifetime of the unit while natural gas still beats them all.

Whether you decide on heater immersion, on demand, solar power or some other technology, the most efficient heater for you is the one that uses the fuel you have at hand, works for your climates and personal needs and best integrates with your existing water system.

The Luxury Of Hot Water Heaters

There’s an old saying: A woman is like a tea bag; you don’t know how strong she is until you put her in hot water! Although this truism is unquestionably accurate, it would be difficult to put it to the test without a hot water heater.

In industrialized nations, hot water heaters are just simply “there.” We don’t even notice that they’re working properly until, all of a sudden, they aren’t. When that’s the case, we start panicking about things like showers, washing dishes and doing laundry. We think of all the things that are part of our everyday living, realizing that until the hot water heater is working, languishing in a warm bubble bath is a thing of the past.

What we take for granted – that hot water will spew forth on command when we turn on the faucet – other civilizations view as a luxury. In some parts of the world, even in some parts of remote, rural America, hot water heaters are non-existent. For example, the Aboriginal people of Australia and North America still haul water from streams and rivers in buckets, heating the water over an open fire. Why, we wonder, do they continue this practice when they know that all they have to do is flick a switch on a hot water heater, and it’s time to wash clothes? Respect for the traditions of their people, plain and simple. Sometimes what’s “easy” isn’t always “best.”

In most of the world, there’s a hot water heater in every basement or closet. Its capacity and rapidity of heating depends upon the number of family members who find hot water essential at various times of the day. With a capacity of 50-60 gallons, hot water heaters aren’t viewed as a luxury, but as a “given.” They replaced the burden of hauling and heating water from the nearby stream. But they also replaced the pleasant social interactions that once accompanied water-bearing, plus the self-esteem building that comes from viewing a job well-done.

How Dependable Are Hot Water Heaters?

If you live in a house most of your adult life – raising a family and doing all the activities that we cherish as a people, your hot water heater should last up to fifteen years, perhaps even more. These appliances are built for endurance and heavy use; another luxury. But of course, something’s bound to go wrong sooner or later, and your heater will need either repair or maintenance. Whether your hot water heater is power by natural gas or electricity, or even by solar power, there are some definite warning signs that tell you it’s time to call a repairman: (1) When you stop getting hot water from a faucet, (2) When you smell gas in the air near the heater, (3) When the appliance is sparking electricity or (4) When you notice a puddle of water near the hot water heater. Most of the time a simple repair job takes care of the problem, but there might also be a time for the heater to be replaced. Plan to spend about $300-$700, and you’ll return to luxury.