5 Tips for Reducing the Amount of Energy Your Water Heater Uses

When people think about ways to cut their energy usage, the home water heater is not frequently at the top of the list. Most people fret about the gas pump, and consider turning in their older vehicle for a hybrid or fully electric model. Others consider their time in the office, and walk around turning off lights and shutting down computer equipment that’s not in use. But when you do get home at the end of a long work day, take some time to think about your water heater. Its entire job is heating water up for the family’s use. But the longer the hot water sits there, the more standby heat loss occurs. It takes as much as 18% of your household energy consumption to manage this process, and that’s a huge chunk. So here are five tips for reducing the amount of energy your water heater uses.

Start off your efforts by lowering the thermostat on the side of the tank. Ten degrees might not sound like a big change, but dropping the temperature just that little bit will trim your energy bill by as much as 5%. The majority of water heaters leave the manufacturing facility set to 140 degrees. Lowering it to 120 degrees won’t cause any noticeable difference in the quantity and quality of hot water you can create, but you’ll surely notice the difference in utility payments. You’ll also have a smaller risk of getting scalded by a faucet set too hot.

That’s the easiest change you can make, but it isn’t the only one. Make a concerted effort to cut down on your hot water usage. The average family of four people who take a short shower each day use up as much as 700 gallons of water. And that’s just for a five minute shower, which is probably on the low end of the spectrum. You can time your showers, but that’s a lot to think about. Instead, look for showerheads with low-flow settings. It’s an inexpensive fix, and can potentially cut the amount of water you use by as much as 60%.

Not all low-flow showerheads are made the same, however. You can now actually buy ultra low-flow units. Most standard showerheads will pump out a gallon of water is as little as twenty seconds. But the ultra low units will cut that down to a gallon and a half a minute. That’s a huge difference, and will actually save you twice. Not only are you using less water, you’re also helping the water heater cut down on its workload. You’ll save a bundle on both bills.

At this point it’s time to check out your home’s piping. The goal is to completely eliminate water loss, so you’ll want to track down any leaky pipes in the system. To put it in perspective, one drip from a pipe or faucet every second will cost you around $1 each and every month. This is an easy fix, and will also help you avoid mold or mildew building up under sinks and beneath bathtubs.

Finally, look to replace your older appliances with new, energy efficient devices. This is another option
for cutting down on the work your water heater must handle. It’s rare that you end up replacing a washing machine because you noticeĀ fumes in the garage. These things will keep working for decades in many cases. But new units that ship with the Energy Star rating will trim your water bill significantly. You should also consider washing clothes and dishes with cold water only. You’ll notice the difference in your water and electric bills almost immediately.

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