5 Tips to Reduce Water Heating Bills in Your Florida Home

Published on: November 20, 2014
Plumber working on water heater | AC Southeast®

Balancing home energy conservation with optimal comfort is a constant battle. Since water heating is the second highest energy hog in your home, accounting for about 14 to 18 percent of your home’s total energy consumption, learning how to reduce water heating bills could save you substantially on utility bills. Here are five tips for lowering water heating costs in your Florida home.

Change the Thermostat Setting

Most water heaters come preset to 140 degrees. You can easily lower the temperature to 120 degrees without risking microbial growth in the tank. This 20-degree drop is an effective way to reduce water heating bills by 6 to 10 percent. The task also reduces scalding at the tap.

Achieving the ideal 120-degree setting isn’t always easy. Some water heaters have two thermostats – one for the top heating element and one for the bottom – and they often aren’t labeled with the precise temperature. Even if yours is, it could be inaccurate.

The first step is to hold a thermometer under the tap and check the current temperature. Then, turn the setting down a notch. Wait at least two hours and measure the temperature again from the same faucet. It may take a few attempts to get it right, but when you do, make a mark on the thermostat so you can always find this sweet spot again.

Reduce Hot Water Usage

Conserving hot water is easier than you think. Start by making a few changes in the bathroom. First, strive to take shorter showers. A family of four who take five-minute showers once a day consumes up to 700 gallons per week. You can reduce this consumption by 25 to 60 percent by installing low-flow shower heads. Installing an aerated faucet at the sink is another way to reduce water heating bills.

The biggest change you can make in the kitchen is to install an Energy Star rated dishwasher and run it on the economy setting. Be sure you only run the dishwasher when it’s full to further reduce water heating bills. Also, avoid pre-rinsing dishes before you load them. If you have a newer, high-efficiency dishwasher, it should be up to the task of removing dried-on food.

In the laundry room, upgrade the washing machine to a high-efficiency model and run full loads in cold water.

Maintain the Tank

Draining the tank every three months is the most effective maintenance task you can perform to reduce water heating bills. You don’t even need to drain it all the way. Just a quart or two is enough to remove sediment from the bottom of the tank and increase heating efficiency.

It’s easy to do. First, turn off power to the unit and shut off the water. Connect a garden hose to the spigot near the bottom of the tank and open the pressure relief valve. With the garden hose aimed at the floor drain or leading outside, turn on the spigot until you’ve drained a quart or two from the tank.

Insulate the Plumbing

Insulation helps save hot water because it heats up faster at the tap. This means less water runs down the drain as you wait for it to get hot. Six-foot long pipe insulation is inexpensive, but installing it could be tricky depending on the pipe’s location. Exposed pipes are easy targets, but insulating hard-to-reach pipes behind the wall might not be worth the trouble.

Insulate the Water Heater

Place your hand on the tank. If it’s warm, you’re losing energy from standby heat loss. To decrease how often the burner comes on, wrap the water heater in an insulating blanket. It’s an easy and cheap way to cut standby heat loss by 25 to 45 percent and reduce water heating bills by 4 to 9 percent.

Look at the unit’s label. If it has an R-value lower than 24, you could benefit from insulating the tank. Make sure you select the correct type of insulation based on whether you have a gas or electric water heater. If you have difficulties during the installation process, ask a professional for help.

Manufacturers have figured out that metal water heaters conduct heat and waste energy, so many newer tanks come with built-in insulation. If yours fits this description, it’s not necessarily beneficial to add more insulation. You could accidentally block critical heating components. Check with the manufacturer if you’re unsure.

For more tips to reduce water heating bills, or for help finding a reliable HVAC contractor, please contact AirConditioningSouthEast.com.