The average family of four spends about 13% of their home energy dollars on heating water. Since the hot water heater consumes such a large amount of energy, even small changes in your usage can result in significant savings in your monthly bill. The highest savings will be realized by those using electric hot water heaters but most of these tips will still work for those who have gas hot water heaters, as well.
Start by checking the temperature setting on your hot water heater. If you have to mix cold water into the hot in order to comfortably place your hand in the water, the the temperature is set higher than necessary. If you have a dishwasher, then you need the temperature set to 120 degrees; otherwise, you can lower the temperature to between 105 and 115 degrees. Experiment with this to see what works for you but remember, the lower the temperature the less expensive the energy cost. Never set the temperature to higher than 120 degrees as higher temperatures can lead to serious burns, especially for small children.
Hot water heaters run periodically, not just when you actually use the hot water. First it must heat the water in the tank and then re-heats to maintain the temperature. Help keep the heat in your electric hot water heater by covering it with an insulating blanket wrap designed especially for the water heater. You cannot wrap a gas hot water heater as they must vent. Wrapping a gas unit will pose a high risk of carbon monoxide poisoning as well as hide a dangerous gas leak. Whichever type of water heater you have, wrapping exposed pipes will help maintain temperature and lower energy costs.
Installing an inexpensive ($30) multi-programmable timer on your water heater can save you a lot of money on your monthly energy bills. If you are like most people, you are gone all day to work and sleeping all night. You really only use hot water for a couple of hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening. Why waste money heating water when you don’t need it? Set the timer to turn the water heater on one hour before you get up in the morning, off when you leave, back on one hour before you get home in the evening, and back off at bedtime. This one step will drop your energy usage and cost by about two-thirds!
Reducing the amount of hot water you use everyday can help you lower the bill even further. If you usually take a tub bath, try switching to showers. On average, showers use as little as one-third of the amount of water that a tub bath takes. If you are already a shower-taker, try taking shorter showers. You can also turn the water off while lathering up and turn it back on just to rinse the soap off. When doing dishes or other household chores, never let the hot water just run. Instead use a basin for rinsing and pails for cleaning water.
Don’t forget to have your hot water heater serviced and maintained regularly. Your technician will drain and remove the sediment that builds up in your tank and reduces the unit’s efficiency. He can also check for any issues and take care of them before they can become big problems. One small leak can inflate your monthly bill to astronomical proportions as well as lead to serious water damage down the road. The small charges for annual servicing will save you more in the long run both in money and peace of mind.
Even if you only use some of the tips presented here, you can definitely save money on your energy bills. If you utilize them all, you’ll see a dramatic reduction in your monthly bill. Simple things like reducing usage, programming a timer, and proper maintenance are relatively painless ways to make a large impact on today’s high energy costs.