My W.H. control
I was pleased to learn that residential water heaters were finally admitted into the Government's Energy Star program and as the second highest end use of energy for your home, you should be happy too. But just because a water heater is given an Energy Star label doesn't mean this is enough....
Recently, I decided that in order to save money on my natural gas bill, I would turn down the temperature on my natural gas fired water heater. (Caution: If you do this without telling your wife, she may get upset when she asks you why she ran out of hot water during her shower and you inform her it's because you "made a few changes".) When I got to my water heater I was greeted by this friendly little dial that warns me that hot water might scald me. Thanks dial!
Since my house is only a little over a year old, I expected my water heating control technology to advance a little bit from the 1950's, but apparently not. As you can see from my dial, my temperature settings are as follows (in decreasing levels of hotness):
- Very hot
While staring at my complex dial I thought, "Which setting will allow me to a) still take a comfortable shower after my wife and b) not let my wife know that I 'made a few changes'". After much internal debate, I changed it from setting "A" to "triangle".
"How did you know what temperature 'triangle' represents?" you ask. Excellent question, but believe it or not, I had no clue what temperature "triangle" represented. Maybe I was out that day in pre-school? Apparently in the 21st century, it is still too much to ask water heater vendors to supply their tanks with digital read-outs - or at the very least an analog dial where you can set your tank at a temperature - and not just a letter/shape combination. Are the water heating vendors catering to toddlers and the illiterate? If so, I bet a lot of those 3 year-olds/non-readers got scalded as they brazenly twisted the dial past "C"!
Yes, I'm aware that adding these "sophisticated" controls would increase the cost of a water heater my a few bucks (I'm also aware that tanks already exist with this capability, but I'm targeting the low-end of the water heating market. These are the type of water heaters builders put in town-home communities), but think about how much energy you could save by being able to dial in to the exact temperature your home is comfortable with. No longer would you need to ask yourself, "Which setting do I like more: A, triangle, or dot?"
Part of making better energy/water conservation decisions is having the information available to you to make those decisions. This is what a programmable thermostat or energy monitoring is all about. In order for America to lower our energy/water consumption, we not only need to make better decisions, but we also need the products that make it easier for us to make those decisions!
I think it's time for Energy Star to "turn up the heat" on water heating vendors and demand they raise the bar a few more dots.....