The typical home and family requires a lot of hot water for everyday needs. From showers, to laundry to dishwashing, our homes require a lot of hot water on a very regular basis. The amount of hot water needed tends to grow exponentially for families with children living at home. A big chunk of a homeowner’s gas or electric bill is usually attributed to the their water heating needs. According to the Department of Energy, water heating is the second largest energy expense in the average home. It typically accounts for upwards of 18% of a home’s utility bill. So, naturally, people often ask how they can save some money on these bills when it comes to the water heating line item. Here are a few tips that can help accomplish that goal:
1. Use less hot water. While this may seem like common sense, it’s easy to get carried away with the amount of hot water we use in the home. Whether it’s staying in the warm shower for a few extra minutes or leaving the faucet running constantly while washing dishes by hand, it’s easy to add up the gallons of hot water we’re using. Fortunately, we can take actions like installing low-flow faucets and showerheads or repairing leaky faucets to cut down on the amount of hot water used. Believe it or not, a leaky faucet can waste gallons of water in a very short period of time. Consolidating laundry or dishwasher loads and making sure these appliances are completely full each time they are run is another great way to save hot water. These actions will also help save on your home’s overall water bill, if you get water from a public source.
2. Insulate your water heater tank and pipes. Insulating both electric and gas water heaters can help save a lot of money as well. As you likely know, traditional tank water heaters monitor the temperature of the water and kick on if the water drops below a specified temperature. By properly insulating these units, you can maximize the time the water in these tanks stays hot, reducing the overall needed heating time. When insulating, it’s important to remember not to cover the thermostat on electric water heaters. On gas models, be sure to not cover the top or bottom of the unit, the thermostat of the unit, or the burner compartment. It’s also a good idea to properly insulate both the hot and cold water pipes connected to the units. The DOE recommends insulating the first 6 feet of each of these pipes. If you’re unsure of proper water heater insulation techniques, be sure to either consult the manufacturer’s instructions or contact a professional.
3. Turn down the thermostat on your water heater. This is perhaps one of the most overlooked money saving tactics for homeowners’ hot water usage. If your water gets too hot to touch, or even close to it, chances are good your thermostat temperature is set much higher than it needs to be. We mentioned in the last tip that tank water heaters maintain the temperature of hot water for when it’s needed. Even lowering this maintained target temperature a few degrees can have a big impact on the overall energy usage. A temperature of 120 degrees is typically sufficient for the needs of most households.