Water heating is the second largest energy expense in the home, typically accounting for 16-18% of utility bills.
There are various ways to save…
In addition to keeping your equipment well-maintained, consider the following energy-saving techniques to minimize water heating costs.
Use less hot water
Low-flow fixtures and showerheads can achieve water savings of 25%–60%.1
If you’re not sure about your shower head’s efficiency you can test it out. Place a gallon size bucket underneath the showerhead, turn on the water at the normal water pressure you use, and time how many seconds it takes to fill the bucket. If it takes less than 20 seconds, you could benefit from a low-flow showerhead. Select a showerhead with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) for maximum water efficiency.
The screw-on tip of the faucet, also known as the aerator, ultimately determines the maximum flow rate of a faucet. The most efficient aerators have flow rates of no more than 1.0 gpm. Aerators are easy and inexpensive to replace. They come in different sizes so if purchasing a new one, have the old one handy to ensure a proper fit.
A leak of one drip per second can cost $1 a month.1 You can reduce hot water use by repairing leaks in faucets, showerheads and pipes.
- Wash your clothes in cold or warm water.
- Wash only full loads of clothes and dishes.
- Take short showers instead of baths.
- Turn off the water when scrubbing dishes and while shaving or brushing your teeth.
- Keep the faucet lever on the sink in the cold position when using small amounts of water; placing the lever in the hot position draws hot water even though it may never reach the faucet.
- Drain a quart of water from your heater every 3 months to remove sediments that impede heating efficiency. Procedures vary among water heaters, so follow the advice of the manufacturer.
- Keep pools covered when not in use to prevent evaporation and heat loss.
The biggest cost of washing dishes and clothes comes from the energy required to heat the water. If your appliances are old you can significantly reduce your energy costs by investing in energy-efficient models, especially those with the ENERGY STAR® label.
Dishwashers that have earned the ENERGY STAR® label are, on average, 5% more energy efficient and 15% more water efficient than standard models.1
ENERGY STAR® certified clothes washers use about 35% less water and about 20% less energy than a regular washer.2 They also have a greater tub capacity which means you can wash fewer loads to clean the same amount of laundry.
Turn down the thermostat on your water heater
Set too high, or at 140℉, your water heater can waste anywhere from $36 to $61 annually in standby heat losses and more than $400 in demand losses.1
Although some manufacturers set water heater thermostats at 140℉ it is typically not necessary. By turning down the thermostat setting to 120℉ you can not only prevent scalding but also save energy and money by reducing hot water use.
Some thermostats may not show a specific temperature setting. Instead you may see indicators such as “Hot” or “Warm”. In this case you may need to check the user manual to determine the optimal setting for your water heater.
Insulate your water heater and pipes
Insulating your old hot water tank is an easy and inexpensive way to improve energy efficiency and reduce monthly water heating costs. Pre-cut insulation jackets or blankets are usually available for around $20. If your water heater is new, it is probably already insulated. If your water heater is old and warm to the touch, adding insulation can help reduce standby heat losses by 25% – 45% and save you about 4% – 9% in water heating costs, paying for itself in about a year.1 Insulation is particularly important for water heaters that are placed in an unconditioned space such as a basement.
When adding insulation, be careful not to cover the thermostat or burner compartments. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, to ensure insulation is added properly and seek professional help when in doubt. You can find step-by-step instructions on how to insulate your hot water tank by visiting the U.S. Department of Energy website.
Insulating your hot water pipes can reduce heat loss and raise the water temperature 2℉ – 4℉ hotter, allowing for a lower temperature setting.1 Plus, you don’t have to wait as long for hot water when you turn on the faucet or showerhead. You can find step-by-step instructions on how to insulate your hot water pipes by visiting the U.S. Department of Energy website.
Buy a new more energy-efficient model
ENERGY STAR qualified water heaters consume 14% – 55% less energy than the standard-efficiency models available today, and can save a household $40 to $285 a year on its energy bills.1
In addition to your water heaters energy efficiency rating, there are several other factors to consider when selecting the best type and model of water heater for your home such as the following:
- Fuel type, availability and cost. The fuel type or energy source you use for water heating will not only affect the water heater’s annual operation costs but also its size and energy efficiency.
- Size. To provide your household with enough hot water and to maximize efficiency, you need a properly sized water heater.
- Costs. Before you purchase a water heater, it’s also a good idea to estimate its annual operating costs and compare those costs with other less or more energy-efficient models.