Your faucets, showerheads and plumbing appliances use a lot of hot water. Believe it or not, the Department of Energy reports that water heating is the second-largest utility cost behind space heating and cooling, accounting for about 18% of your monthly bill. Find out more about how much energy an average water heater uses and helpful tips to reduce your water heating costs.
How Much Electricity Does an Electric Water Heater Use?
The precise cost to run an electric water heater is based on the size of the unit, how much you use it, its power draw and what you pay for electricity. For instance, a medium-sized, 40-gallon water heater that uses 4500 watts and is active for just two 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 each year.
How Much Natural Gas Does a Gas-Fired Water Heater Need?
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 what you pay for natural gas. For example, a medium-sized, 40-gallon water heater that uses .205 therms per hour and is active for two hours each day for a price of $1 per therm costs about $0.62 to operate per day, which is approximately $18.60 each 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 tend to run lower than electricity costs. Refine the calculations with your exact energy usage and rates to create a more accurate picture of gas vs. electric water heater expenses.
Tips to Reduce Your Water Heating Bills
Whether your water heater runs using electricity or gas, you can trim 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 must pay to heat it. Modify your daily habits to help with energy bills. Here’s how:
- Take faster showers.
- Only use the dishwasher and washing machine with full loads.
- Avoid pre-rinsing dishes before loading them into the dishwasher.
- Clean your clothes in cold water whenever possible.
Repair Plumbing Leaks
Leaky faucets, showerheads and pipes can waste significant amounts of hot water. For instance, one drip per second wastes over 1,600 gallons annually. Eliminate this waste by repairing 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 about $10 to $20 each, resulting in up to 60% savings on water use. Look 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 chance of scalding at the tap. Just don’t go any lower than 120 degrees to discourage microbial growth in the tank.
If your water heater doesn’t include 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 check 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 retailers. Be mindful to install the jacket correctly to avoid creating a dangerous operating situation. If you're unsure how to proceed, ask a professional for help. When the tank is insulated, add insulation around 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 approaching the end of its life span, think about replacing it with an ENERGY STAR-rated model. A tankless water heater is a good option. This upgrade can save as much as 34% on your water heating bills by producing hot 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
BW/Cook 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 carry top products from today’s best brands, including conventional tanks as well as tankless models, to suit your needs while staying in budget. To find out more, please contact your local BW/Cook Service Experts office today.