Your faucets, showerheads and plumbing appliances use lots of hot water. Believe it or not, the Department of Energy says that water heating is the second-largest utility cost behind space heating and cooling, accounting for about 18% of your monthly bill. Discover how much energy a typical water heater uses and helpful tips to decrease your water heating costs.
How Much Electricity Does an Electric Water Heater Use?
The total cost to run an electric water heater is determined by the square footage of the unit, how much you use it, its power requirements and what you pay for electricity. As an example, a medium-sized, 40-gallon water heater that draws 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 operate per day, which arrives at $35 each month or $426 per year.
How Much Natural Gas Does a Gas-Fired Water Heater Use?
If your water heater runs on natural gas, you must consider the size of the unit, how much you use it, its power draw and typical costs for natural gas. As an example, a medium-sized, 40-gallon water heater that uses .205 therms per hour and is active for a couple of hours each day for a price of $1 per therm costs about $0.62 to operate per day, which is approximately $18.60 per month or $226 annually.
Gas vs. Electric Water Heater Costs
As you can determine from the examples above, gas water heaters generally cost less to run than similar electric models because natural gas prices are likely to run lower than electricity costs. Fine-tune the calculations with your exact energy usage and rates to get a more accurate picture of gas vs. electric water heater costs.
Tips to Reduce Your Water Heating Bills
Whether your water heater uses electricity or gas, you can cut your utility costs with these money-saving tips.
Change Your Hot Water Habits
Consider that each and every time you turn on a hot water faucet, you have to pay to heat it. Modify your day-to-day habits to help with energy bills. Here’s how:
- Take quicker showers.
- Only run the dishwasher and washing machine with full loads.
- Minimize pre-rinsing dishes before placing them into the dishwasher.
- Clean your clothes in cold water whenever possible.
Seal Plumbing Leaks
Leaky faucets, showerheads and pipes can waste large quantities of hot water. For example, one drip per second can waste as much as 1,600 gallons each year. Eliminate this waste by repairing plumbing leaks as soon as you discover them.
Install Low-Flow Faucets and Showerheads
Modern regulations 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 purchase quality, low-flow kitchen and bathroom fixtures for about $10 to $20 each, resulting in as much as 60% savings on water use. Search for the ENERGY STAR® WaterSense label to maximize efficiency without negatively impacting 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 lower the risk of scalding at the tap. Just don’t go any lower than 120 degrees to discourage microbial growth in the tank.
If the water heater doesn’t have a temperature readout, determine the setting with a thermometer at the bathroom or kitchen tap. Adjust the water heater’s dial, wait two hours and measure 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 mindful 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. After 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, consider replacing it with an ENERGY STAR-rated model. A tankless water heater is one such option. This upgrade can save up to 34% on your water heating bills by heating water on demand and eliminating 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
Neal Harris Service Experts is your source for reliable, affordable water heater services in North America. Our highly trained technicians can fulfill any water heater repair or replacement request that comes our way. We offer top products from today’s best brands, including traditional tanks as well as tankless models, to suit your needs while staying in budget. To learn more, please contact your local Neal Harris Service Experts office today.