As temperatures rise in Texas, the last thing you may think of is your home’s water heater. Even though it is blistering hot outside, water heating remains the second largest energy expense in a home because we’re still using the water heater for everyday tasks including taking showers, running the dishwasher and washing clothes.
The average household pays $400-$600 a year on water-heating expenses, and about 22 percent of total energy consumption is used to heat water. This means that if you want to save energy and money, a good place to start is with your household’s water heater.
Here are some easy ways to reduce water-heating costs and save energy.
Save Energy Through Conservation
- Use less hot water. The average household uses 64 gallons of hot water per day. Using less hot water while running appliances is a quick and simple way to immediately get water-heating expenses down. Place a 5-minute timer in your shower and consider washing some of your clothes in cold water rather than hot.
- Install low-flow faucets and showerheads. Low-flow fixtures do not break the bank at $10-20 each and can help reduce water usage by 25-60 percent.
- Turn down the thermostat. While a cold shower may be pushing conservation too far, this does not mean you cannot reduce the temperature a little to save energy. Set the thermostat on your water heater to 120°F to get water that’s hot enough to do the job and cool enough to keep energy usage down.
Save Energy Through Maintenance
- Fix leaks. A leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period of time. Those leaks can add up with one drip per second wasting up to 1,661 gallons per year and costing you $35 on your energy bill.
- Insulate. Wrapping blanket insulation around your electric, natural gas or oil hot-water storage tank helps reduce loss of heat. This means the water heater does not have to work as hard to create hot water, which saves energy. You can also insulate the first 6 feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater, but be careful not to cover the thermostat or burner compartment. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and get professional help when in doubt.
- Drain. Drain a quart of water from your water tank every 3 months to remove the sediment that slows down heat transfer. A faster heat transfer improves the efficiency of your water heater and can prolong its life.
Save Energy Through An Upgrade
- Buy new energy-efficient appliances. The average home uses 13 gallons of hot water a day to run the automatic dishwasher and clothes washer. If your dishwasher is on its last leg, consider replacing it with an energy-efficient version, which can reduce water-heating and electricity costs. Or wash dishes by hand using cooler water. Energy-efficient clothes washers can also reduce energy costs by as much as three times than traditional appliances. When selecting a machine, consider a front-loading model, which uses less water than top loaders. Also, make sure to find a washer that allows you to adjust the temperature levels. Take a look at Energy Star-certified dishwashers and clothes washers before you go shopping.
- Look for Energy Star-certified water heaters. The average water heater lasts 10-15 years before it starts to cause problems. If you are looking for a new water heater consider an Energy Star model, which has proven to save the average household about $20-$100 a year or more.
While water heaters come in a variety of models and use different energy sources, including electricity and gas, hot water conservation is an energy-saving method that all households can practice, no matter what type of energy powers their water heater.