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Ways to Lower Your Water Heating Bill

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that water heating costs are responsible for a whopping 18 percent of a household’s energy consumption. We’re here to help! If you implement the recommendations listed below, you’ll be rewarded with a lower utility bill each month.

1 – Reduce your shower time

We know, this isn’t a popular one. We all love our nice, long, hot showers! But for every minute you spend in the shower, you can use up to five gallons of water! If you cut your average shower time from 10 to five minutes each day, you could save 175 gallons of water and 35 minutes of energy or fuel consumption per week. Even a small reduction in shower time can really add up.

2 – Fix leaky faucets

Did you know that a hot water faucet leaking at a rate of one drop per second could cost you an extra $1 in energy charges each month? Over the course of a single year that adds up to 3,153 gallons of wasted water, plus several hours of excess energy usage. If you have a leak – even a really slow one – get it fixed.

3 – Insulate your water heater’s storage tank

This one’s a no-brainer. It’s so simple, anyone can do it, and it makes a dramatic difference in your water heater’s ability to maintain hot water. To find out whether your storage tank needs more insulation, check its R-value (a measurement of insulating capacities) in your water heater owner’s manual. If its less than R-24 you should install in insulation blanket, being careful not to cover the thermostat on electric water heaters or the top, bottom, thermostat or burner compartment on gas water heaters. If you feel uncomfortable doing this, you can ask your water heating contractor to come and do it for you. As a physical test, you can put your hands on the outside of your water heater tank, and if it feels warm it needs more insulation. That warmth is just wasted energy!

4 – Insulate the first few feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater

What this does is raise the temperature of the water in the pipes, possibly by as much as 2-4 degrees Fahrenheit. This eases your water heater’s workload and gives you the option of lowering its temperature settings a bit below that 120-degree standard.

5 – Lower your water heater temperature to 120 degrees

It’s simple, if the water doesn’t need to be heated to quite as high a temperature, then it takes less energy to heat the water! A 10-degree Fahrenheit reduction in water heater temperature will cut that appliance’s power usage by 3-5 percent each time it is activated.

6 – Never let the water run unnecessarily

Letting the hot water run continuously when you’re doing the dishes or shaving could add a few dollars to your energy costs each year. Since you probably do this without thinking, it should be an easy adjustment to make.

7 – Use cold water to do your laundry

Cold water will do the job just as well as hot water in most instances, especially if you have a newer washing machine. You should always make sure to use cold water during the rinse cycle (at least), and over the course of a year this action alone could reduce your hot water usage by a couple of percentage points.

8 – Learn to use your dishwasher more efficiently

People tend to use their dishwashers too often or casually. To reduce unnecessary energy consumption, you should only wash dishes when the dishwasher is full. You should choose shorter cycles as well, which will usually still be more than long enough to get your dishes clean.

9 – Install low-flow fixtures

Water faucets and showerheads that are more than 25 years old are a great deal less efficient that current models. A good-quality low-flow showerhead can cut your rates of water usage in half, without impacting your comfort level.

10 – Ask a contractor to install heat traps on your water heater tank

The Department of Energy reports that heat traps on hot water outlet pipes and cold water inlet pipes can save you up to $30 per year on energy. Most modern water heaters already have these traps installed, so you likely won’t have to do this unless your heater has been in place for a decade or more.

11 – Install a timer on your electric water heater

A timer will reduce energy consumption by shutting down the heating unit when you’re at work or sleeping and have no need for on-demand hot water. If you live in an area that charges higher electricity rates during certain hours, you can program the timer to shut the heater down during those times, too.

12 – Look for the Energy Star label

The Energy Star label on a dishwasher or washing machine guarantees energy-efficient performance, in comparison to appliances from 15-20 years ago that were tilted more toward the energy-hog side. Appliances that earn this designation will be accompanied by a yellow Energy Guide sticker, which reveals how many kilowatt-hours of energy that appliance will consume each year (based on typical levels of usage) and how much that energy will cost.

13 Consider replacing your current water heater with a more efficient appliance

Energy-efficient water heaters are now standard, with Energy Star labels and yellow Energy Guide stickers attached to verify their excellence. While a good-quality tanked model could represent a drastic improvement over your old water heater, the best way to save money on water heating is to switch to a tankless water heater. These appliances deliver hot water strictly on demand, eliminating all excess heating costs associated with tank technology.

Bill East