Water heating accounts for about 15 percent of a family’s utility bill, one of the biggest energy users behind heating and cooling costs.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are several basic ways to cut your water heating bills, such as use less hot water, turn down the thermostat on your water heater and buy a new, more efficient water heater.
Water heating tips to save energy and money:
• Install aerating, low-flow faucets and showerheads.
• Repair leaky faucets promptly; a leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period of time.
• Use cold water for most laundry loads, and always use cold water for the rinse cycle.
• Take short showers instead of baths, and reduce your time in the shower.
• Set the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees F to get comfortable hot water for most uses.
• Insulate your electric hot-water storage tank, but be careful not to cover the thermostat. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
• Insulate the first 6 feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater, but keep a 6-inch clearance from venting.
• If you are in the market for a new dishwasher or clothes washer, consider buying an efficient, water-saving ENERGY STAR® model to reduce hot water use. See the Appliances section at http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/tips-shopping-appliances for more information.
• Install heat traps on the hot and cold pipes at the water heater to prevent heat loss. Most new water heaters have built-in heat traps.
• Drain a quart of water from your water tank every three months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater.
• Purchase a new, more efficient water heater.
Although most water heaters last 10-15 years, it is best to research new units before the old one fails. Determine the water heater that best meets your needs and look for the ENERGY STAR and EnergyGuide labels. You can find the ENERGY STAR label on water heaters in the several categories. The Department of Energy offers more information on long-term water heating savings at http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/tips-water-heating.
(Information provided by Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources.)