What affects water heater efficiency?

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We have a RuudGlas PaceMaker gas water heater (installed by a previous owner) that never feels warm on the outside, yet the EnergyGuide label on it shows it as using about 35% more energy than the most efficient one of similar type.
Obviously we're not going to replace it, but I'm curious about what could have been done to make it more efficient.
Perce
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Anything to take the heat that goes up the flue and instead applies it to the tank water increases efficiency. Nothing practical a homeowner can do as a retrofit, 'tho.
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Percival P. Cassidy wrote:

The insulation within the heater itself can make a big difference. You can buy fiberglass insulation wraps for hot water heaters that can help, but that is about all you can do. Some heaters are particularly vulnerable to sedimentaiton, but that affects the long term efficiency, not what is printed on the sticker. The insulation, type and location of the heating elements, and the temperature control systems all contribute the efficiency. Unless you were to dismantle yours and another unit it is not so easy to say exactly why one is more efficient than the other.
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Exactly. And also, be careful how deep you bury the water heater when you install it. Most manufacturers will void the warranty if you bury the heater deeper than 12'. If you have sandy soil, the limit is 15', I believe.
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'You can buy fiberglass insulation wraps for hot water heaters that can help, but that is about all you can do.'
ME: Actually, there are other things you can do : Add a mechanical flue damper to the water heaters flue pipe. And/or, install a 3/8" compression solenoid valve in the burner tube and have an automatic timer open it based on the times that you actually will be using hot water (all other times it will be off). I do this and run my gas water heater 1 hr. just before i cook and shower in the evening.
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Dave, a "mechanical damper" you say, Who makes them and why are they not standard equipment? Or a factory option?
So if the Mechanical damper fails what keeps Co from pouring into the house and killing you?? . Are they Code anywhere?
Now a motor driven damper with a saftey shut off I have on a boiler. But mechanical with no saftey?
Sounds like unsafe BS Dave.
If you want your water heater running at its efficency rating and want more , insulate it, instal a thermal brake on the water input and output, flush it and be sure burners are burning correctly. And insulating pipe will help you to be able to run lower temps. Or better, I put in a Tankless gas , 5 yr payback my bills are that much lower.
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'Dave, a "mechanical damper" you say, Who makes them and why are they not standard equipment? Or a factory option? So if the Mechanical damper fails what keeps Co from pouring into the house and killing you?? . Are they Code anywhere? Now a motor driven damper with a saftey shut off I have on a boiler. But mechanical with no saftey? Sounds like unsafe BS Dave. '
Rans,
Theyve been around for many decades. They are installed on millions of water heaters and older furnaces, and, i dont know of one village that doesnt allow them. No B.S. Rans....check it out if youre not familiar with it.
'If you want your water heater running at its efficency rating and want more , insulate it, instal a thermal brake on the water input and output, flush it and be sure burners are burning correctly.'
ME: Agree.
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He knows nothing about it and neither do you.

You just ain't gotta clue...
Read this: http://forums.invision.net/Thread.cfm?CFApp=2&Thread_ID $107&mc=3
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Right HEAT MAN seems daves exaust vent mechanical damper is Unsafe, unless you have something inteligent to say , which you havn`t , Yet. What is your point, if you actualy have one. Seems like You have no clue. So post some facts.
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This is Turtle.
I'm not much in getting into a pissing contest but Dave is mixing the words of Ransley in with his by the way he post and replys. Dave is mixing up things to get one of you to go at the other with this mix posting together.
TURTLE
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If you posted the drivel on the Wall and were talking about Dave, you lost what little respect I had for you. That's especially if he's your "Hvac guy."
http://forums.invision.net/Thread.cfm?CFApp=2&Thread_ID $107&mc=3

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Posting Drivel , It seems you and dave are two of a kind.
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Well dave I posted this at "The Wall" , link provided by Heat Man, and talked to other people. You are as often you do, recomending more dangerous information . If it was done properly with saftey lock out, the cost would be absurd, never giving a payback. But you don`t even consider the saftey lock out.
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This is Turtle.
HeatMan , Ransley was getting on HVAC Fella for making stupid statements about dampers on hot water tanks. Then you here get on Ransley for getting on HVAC Fella's ass about doing stupid things.
You must have missread the post or something for everybody gets on HVAC Fella for the wild ass reply he gives. What Happen ?
TURTLE
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HVAC idiot (I will NOT call him Fella) told Mark the garbage about the Dampers and Ransley posted the question on the Wall. I'm sure Ransley was simply looking for confirmation of what the Idiot said. The people on the Wall said what everyone else (but the Idiot) told him, that dampers on the WH's and furnaces didn't work. Ransley's a real idiot if he beleives what HVACIdiot sez....
The conversation's on WH dampers isn't worth the bandwidth it's taking up.
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Heat Man , you need to keep up here. Of course I don`t believe him.
Dangerous Dave comes here spouting off on non code, dangerous, stupid, ideas that someone might adopt because they trust him and end up harming themselves. Someone has to call out dave when he posts crap. The scary thing is I will bet he sells it.
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'Dangerous Dave comes here spouting off on non code, dangerous, stupid, ideas that someone might adopt because they trust him and end up harming themselves.'
ME: Not true ; you are not in the hvac trade and you know little about it including whats code and what isnt. Further, you are not really interested in finding out the truth about things , such as mechanical flue dampers which have been around for at least 50 years...otherwise you would have one a Google search instead of badgering me without cause. Again..i offer a truce with you Ransley as i believe the bad blood between us is unnecessary and unhealthy.
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On Wed, 9 Feb 2005 16:12:25 -0600, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (HVAC fella) wrote:

You HVAC "pros" don't like it when non-pros post on alt.hvac.
Why do you guys insist on bringing your pissing contests over to here????
Doug
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(HVAC fella)

Doug,
The HVAC idiot brought all this up. Part of what I'm saying is that Fella is an idiot and a hack. He's been requested to show proof of licensing and insurance and ignores all such requests.
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When in the fuck are you going to change to your new and much more suitable webtv nic: HACK fella?
AND since when has dimwitted dave EVER been interested in the truth?
Tell us dave why do you still say Charles Darwin and Aldous Huxley were "associates" (you have often posted such information) when they weren't even alive at the same time?
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