Every cloud has a silver lining, right? Well, that’s how the Indianapolis Zoo likes to look at it anyway. That was the situation when the water heater tank started leaking in the Dolphin Pavilion early in 2012. But this isn’t your average water heater. This one could hold 250 gallons of water. To give you some idea of the difference, the average home’s water heater holds approximately 50 gallons of water.
Rather than fret over it for too long, we decided to take this as an opportunity to replace it with a smaller, more energy efficient model. In addition to this, with help from the Purdue Technical Assistance Program, we also added small “pony” boilers for summer usage. Our large boilers are oversized and have higher operating temperatures than what is necessary in the summer. So to do the job right, we installed these smaller boilers in Oceans as part of this project as well.
All of these upgrades have reduced the natural gas usage in both biomes, and it’s not bad on the wallet either. The summer boilers or water heaters save us approximately $26,000 per year and the new larger one saves us $3,000 a year.
So the next time, you grumble when your hot water heater goes on the fritz, it may cost you some money up front, but a high efficiency natural gas water heater can reduce your gas needs by 15% and save you about $30 a year. It’s a win-win for you and the environment.