Your faucets, showerheads and plumbing appliances use lots of hot water. In fact, the Department of Energy says that water heating is the second-largest utility cost behind space heating and cooling, accounting for approximately 18% of your monthly bill. Learn how much energy a typical water heater uses and helpful tips to reduce your water heating costs.
How Much Electricity Does an Electric Water Heater Use?
The total cost to run an electric water heater is based on the square footage of the unit, how much you use it, its power draw and local costs for electricity. As an example, a medium-sized, 40-gallon water heater that uses 4500 watts and is active for 2 hours a day at a rate of $0.13 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) costs about $1.17 to run per day, which arrives at $35 each month or $426 per year.
How Much Natural Gas Does a Gas-Fired Water Heater Need?
If your water heater runs on natural gas, you have to consider the size of the unit, how much you use it, its power draw and the price for natural gas. For example, a medium-sized, 40-gallon water heater that uses .205 therms per hour and is active for a couple of hours per day for a price of $1 per therm costs about $0.62 to operate per day, which is roughly $18.60 per month or $226 per year.
Gas vs. Electric Water Heater Costs
As you can see from the examples above, gas water heaters generally cost less to use than similar electric models because natural gas prices tend to run lower than electricity costs. Refine the calculations with your exact energy usage and rates to get a more accurate picture of gas vs. electric water heater expenses.
Tips to Reduce Your Water Heating Bills
Whether your water heater runs on electricity or gas, you can lower your utility costs with these money-saving suggestions.
Change Your Hot Water Habits
Consider that each and every time you turn on a hot water tap, you need to pay to heat it. Modify your day-to-day habits to reduce costs. Here’s how:
- Take shorter showers.
- Only use the dishwasher and washing machine with full loads.
- Minimize pre-rinsing dishes before loading them into the dishwasher.
- Clean your clothes in cold water as much as possible.
Repair Plumbing Leaks
Leaky faucets, showerheads and pipes can waste significant quantities of hot water. For example, one drip per second can waste as much as 1,600 gallons per year. Eliminate this waste by fixing plumbing leaks as soon as you discover them.
Install Low-Flow Faucets and Showerheads
Modern rules require new showerheads to consume 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) or less while kitchen faucets are limited to 2.2 gpm. New bathroom faucets must have flow rates below 1.5 gpm.
You can buy quality, low-flow kitchen and bathroom fixtures for around $10 to $20 each, resulting in up to 60% savings on water use. Try to find the ENERGY STAR® WaterSense label to maximize efficiency without negatively influencing performance.
Turn Down the Water Heater Temperature
The default setting is 140 degrees. Lower this to 120 degrees to save on water heating costs and reduce the chance of scalding at the tap. Just don’t go any lower than 120 degrees to prevent microbial growth within the tank.
In case your water heater doesn’t include a temperature readout, determine the setting with a thermometer at the bathroom or kitchen faucet. Adjust the water heater’s dial, wait two hours and test the water’s temperature. Repeat this process until the thermometer reads 120 degrees.
Both electric and natural gas water heaters can be insulated with special jackets available at home improvement stores. Be careful to install the jacket correctly to avoid creating a dangerous operating situation. If you're not sure how to proceed, ask a professional for help. When the tank is insulated, add insulation to the hot and cold pipes coming from the water heater to help things heat up faster at the faucet.
Buy More Efficient Equipment
If the water heater is nearing the end of its life span, look at replacing it with an ENERGY STAR-rated model. A tankless water heater is another option. This upgrade can save as much as 34% on your water heating bills by generating hot water on demand and getting rid of standby heat loss. Save energy and lower costs by replacing your hot water appliances with high-efficiency models, including the dishwasher and washing machine.
Schedule Water Heater Services with an Expert
Levy & Son Service Experts is your source for dependable, affordable water heater services in North America. Our highly trained technicians can satisfy any water heater repair or replacement request that comes our way. We work with top products from today’s best brands, including conventional tanks as well as tankless models, to suit your needs while staying in your budget. To find out more, please contact your local Levy & Son Service Experts office today.