Hot water cylinder hacks to save on your power bill
Has your latest power bill landed you in hot water? Simmer down, stop the steam coming out of your ears and find out how you can save some money with these simple hot water cylinder hacks!
How does a hot water cylinder work?
The humble hot water cylinder is the heart of your home’s water heating system.
Functionally similar to an electric jug, your hot water cylinder uses an element and a thermostat to heat the water in the tank to a certain temperature. As the water in the cylinder is used, it’s replaced by cold water, which triggers the thermostat, activates the element and heats the water. It’s a continuous process that ensures you have a reliable and consistent supply of hot water.
Hot water cylinders have become increasingly energy efficient over the years, but they’re still not perfect. Given that water heating accounts for about 30 percent of your household’s energy consumption, making a few tweaks to your hot water cylinder can help make a big difference when the time comes to pay your power bill.
Here are a few simple and effective hot water cylinder hacks to help you save electricity and keep your power bill low:
Check for leaks
Modern hot water cylinders are wonderfully durable and will happily chug away for 20 years without an issue. Over time, however, they can spring a leak due to loose connections, excessive pressure, cracks in the pipes or corrosion in the tank.
With this in mind, it’s important to keep an eye out for potential issues. If your cylinder appears to be leaking from a tap, pipe or valve, there’s a good chance it’ll be an inexpensive fix. On the other hand, a leak from the base of the cylinder could indicate that the tank has corroded. In this scenario, you’ll probably have to replace the whole cylinder.
If you discover a leak:
- Turn off the power to the hot water cylinder by flipping the switch on the tank. Alternatively, you can disconnect power to the cylinder from your property’s switchboard.
- Turn off the water supply to the cylinder via the tap on the cylinder. If you can’t locate this tap, turn off the mains water supply (usually located near the front boundary of your property).
- Drain the cylinder by turning on some hot taps in the house and letting the hot water flow out until the tank is empty.
- Call a professional. A good plumber will be able to shed some light on the issue and advise you whether the cylinder needs to be repaired or replaced.
Note: Your safety is the number one priority. If you’re uncertain about any of the above steps, do the safe thing and call a professional.
Check the cylinder temperature
Another easy way to improve the efficiency of your water heating system is to reduce the temperature of your hot water cylinder. Most households should keep their hot water cylinders set to 60 degrees Celsius, which is hot enough to keep your water clean and safe, and cold enough that your cylinder won’t waste energy on keeping your water unnecessarily hot.
Some older cylinders will allow you to set the temperature below 60 degrees Celsius. While it might sound like a good way to save even more power, it is not safe to do so as aquatic bacteria such as legionella thrive in these conditions. Always set your cylinder to a minimum of 60 degrees Celsius.
Insulate the cylinder
All hot water cylinders lose some heat through the walls of the tank. Insulation helps prevent heat loss and effectively makes your hot water cylinder more energy efficient. This is particularly true for water heating systems that were installed prior to about 2002.
The good news is that insulation is cheap and easy to install. Cylinder wraps can be purchased from your local hardware store for about $60. If you have an older cylinder, a cylinder wrap could save you as much as 1 kWh per day, or more than $90 a year. Modern cylinders are better at retaining heat, but a cylinder wrap could still help you reduce heat loss by about 0.3 kWh per day or around $30 a year.
Insulate the pipes
The cylinder isn’t the only part of the system that is susceptible to heat loss. In older houses, the pipes that are attached to the hot water cylinder are often poorly insulated (or not insulated at all) and can lose a lot of energy, which affects the overall efficiency of your water heating system.
You can purchase cheap pipe insulation from your local hardware store for about $5 a metre. The first metre or so of pipe that extends from the cylinder is the most important section to insulate, but it’s well worth insulating the rest of the pipe if it’s accessible.
More tips for saving on hot water
Your cylinder is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to saving money on hot water. Here are a few bonus tips to conserve hot water and save on power:
- Reduce shower time
- Invest in a showerhead that allows you to reduce the flow of water
- Do your laundry in cold water
- Fix any leaks or dripping taps
- Use eco-friendly settings on your dishwasher
- Look for energy-efficient options when replacing water-using appliances
Save even more on power with Pulse Energy
Improving the efficiency of your water heating system isn’t rocket science, but it can do wonders for your power bill.
If you’re looking for even more ways to save on power, consider making the switch to Pulse Energy. With competitive prices and an awesome customer support team, we’re the number one choice when it comes to low-cost electricity.