Holding Down Your Water Heating Costs for Higher Energy Savings

Published on: July 31, 2012

Many people do not know that their water heater accounts for between 10 and 20 percent of their energy costs. However, there are a few ways you can hold down water heating costs for higher energy savings. Every little action you take to conserve energy will mean more money in your pocket due to lower energy bills. Additionally, some of the actions will also extend the life of your water heater.


1.) Lower the temperature of the hot water.

In many homes, the hot water is set to be as high as 140 degrees. In fact, the standard setting for hot water in homes is 140 degrees. Lower this setting on the water heater thermostat to save money. Try setting the hot water temperature to 115 or 120. Check with your water heater owners manual for instructions about adjusting water temperature. You will save money because the water heater will not need to heat the hot water to a higher temperature. You will also improve the overall energy efficiency of your home.


2.) Decrease the use of hot water.

Decreasing your hot water usage sounds daunting at first. However, there are a few things you can do to use less hot water without a total upheaval of the household. Again, decreasing the use of hot water improves the energy efficiency of your home.

– Take quicker showers.

Many people linger in the shower and a great deal of hot water simply ends up down the drain. Get in the habit of taking quick showers to reduce hot water usage.

– Wash clothes with warm or cold water.

With today’s laundry detergents that clean clothes in cold and warm water, there is no need to always wash clothes in hot water. Getting in the habit of using the cold and/or warm settings will use less hot water when you wash laundry. Washing clothes in cold water will also make your clothes last longer.


3.) Turn the water heater off when you leave for extended periods of time.

Turn off the water heater completely when you are headed out for vacation. When you return home, you will need to wait about an hour or so before you have hot water again, but this action will save money while you are gone because the water heater will not need to run to heat water that is not being used. Turning off the water heater when you leave on vacation is yet another way to improve the energy efficiency of the home.


4.) Apply insulation to the water heater.

Water heaters lose heat when the hot water is stored in the tank. Applying insulation to water heaters will reduce loss of heat when water heaters are standing by with hot water in the tanks. Adding insulation will reduce the loss of heat by as much as 40 percent. Applying insulation will decrease energy usage and it is yet another way to improve the energy efficiency of your home.

Insulation with an R-Value of at least 24 is recommended for water heaters. However, water heaters that are 10 years old or newer are likely well insulated. One way to determine if your water heater could use a layer of insulation, perform the touch test. If the water heater is warm when you touch the tank, your water heater could likely use a layer of insulation. Be sure to consult the owners manual for applying insulation to the water heater.


5.) Purchase an energy efficient water heater.

Just as with HVAC systems, water heaters have improved in energy efficiency in the past 10 years. A newer model will likely be more energy efficient that a model that is 10 years old or older. Water heaters generally last between 10 and 15 years. If your water heater is 10 years old or older, consider replacing the unit for a more energy efficient model.

Another option when purchasing a new water heater is the new tankless water heater design. A tankless water heater heats water on demand and does not store the hot water in a tank. However, these devices do have a few drawbacks. First of all, for homes where hot water is required in several applications at one time, a tankless water heater is less than adequate. You may need a supplemental tanked water heater if you find that your family uses hot water in various rooms at once.

In addition, because the tankless water heater heat water on demand, energy efficiency is decreased when the device is heavily used. After all, the tankless models use electricity to heat water on demand and if the demand is high, this means that the unit is using a considerable amount of electricity to produce hot water.


For homes that do not use hot water in various rooms at the same time, such as households with just one or two people, a tankless water heater may be an energy efficient choice.