8 Ways to Save on Your Water Heating Bill
It’s easy to take for granted the convenience of turning on the tap and having hot water come out. That is, until you realize that in a typical household, heating that water can account for 12% of a home’s energy expense. You can, however, lower costs and save money — without sacrificing comfort.
Most of us have a conventional storage-type water heater. That water storage tank works constantly to keep water hot and ready whenever you want it. But as the water sits, it naturally cools down, a process known as “standby heat loss.” When the water cools, the burner or heating element kicks on to warm it up again, in a constantly repeating cycle. To generate savings, start by using your hot water wisely and helping your water heater function efficiently.
Here are 8 ways to lower your water heating costs:
1. Use less water
- Take showers instead of baths for daily cleaning, and reduce the time of your showers.
- Don’t let the water run while you are washing dishes, brushing your teeth, etc.
- Install low-flow fixtures (showerheads and aerators). Older models (those manufactured before 1992) use twice as much water as new models. Older showerheads can use as much as 5.5 gallons of water per minute.
2. Lower the temperature of your water heater to 120 degrees.
- Most water heaters come preset at 140 degrees. Lowering the temperature to 120 degrees uses less energy and is also safer, as it reduces the risk of scalding.
- For every 10ºF reduction in temperature, you can save from 3%–5% on your water heating costs.
3. Use cold water for laundry.
- Most loads will get clean in cold water.
- Always use cold for the rinse cycle.
4. Use your dishwasher efficiently.
- Only run the dishwasher when it is full.
- Use the shortest wash cycles and economy settings.
- Avoid using the pre-washing cycle.
5. Fix leaky faucets.
- Even a slow leak (60 drips per minute) wastes 3,153 gallons of water per year.
6. Insulate your water heater tank.
- If the R-value on your tank is less than R-24, install an insulation blanket. If you don’t know the R-value, you can simply put your hands on the tank. If it feels warm, the tank is losing heat.
- Check with a professional before installing a blanket, as it is important that you don’t cover certain parts of the water heater.
7. Insulate exposed hot-water pipes.
- The pipes are another source of heat loss. Insulated pipes keep water 4º hotter than uninsulated pipes.
- Pipes should be insulated within 3 feet of the water heater, but on gas heaters, insulation must be at least 6 inches from the flue. Check with a professional for assistance.
8. Have heat traps installed.
- Heat traps are valves or loops that prevent hot water from flowing out of your hot water tank unintentionally.
- Newer water heaters may already have heat traps, but according to Energy.gov, adding them to an older water heater saves $15-$30 a year.
- This is a job for a professional or someone with sufficient plumbing experience.