In almost any home, the heating system is only used in fall and winter, with the air conditioning taking over in the summer, and even, on occasion in the spring. The hot water heater however rarely ever gets a break. An ice-cold shower is something that very few people can stand, even when it’s hot out, and dishes and clothes still need hot water to be properly cleaned.
Water heaters contribute more to your energy bills than you might realize. And while you are probably sensible enough to exercise energy cost cutting measures when it comes to your home’s HVAC system, do you do the same when it comes to the water heater? If not, then following at least some of the following tips and tricks really will help save more than you probably imagined possible.
Watch the Water Temperature
The most energy efficient temperature that a water heater can be set to is 120°F, and yet many household hot water heaters are set considerably higher. Not only is this wasteful in terms of energy but it can even be dangerous, especially for kids. 120°F should be hot enough to meet all of your needs and even if that is only a degree or two lower than your current setting it will result in 3%–5% annual savings per ten degree drop.
Install Low Flow Fixtures
Here in the Kansas City area, and in the rest of the US, a federal law mandates that new shower heads and faucets must be low flow, but in many homes the faucets are far older than that, and their ‘old-fashioned’ design wastes gallons and gallons of water every day. Installing new fixtures is relatively straightforward and inexpensive, won’t noticeably change the way your faucets work and will save on the energy needed to heat it and on water in general.
Take Showers Not Baths, And Make Them Shorter
The average bath, when filled to the ‘comfort level’ the average adult enjoys, uses 40 gallons of water, versus the 10 gallons that a five-minute shower (provided that it is fitted with a low flow showerhead) uses. That, when you total up the number of times people bathe in your home can add up to major savings. Five minutes is not, admittedly, a very long shower, and it can be hard to drag yourself out of a nice warm one after a long day. To make it easier to do so, set a timer and then maybe once a week treat yourself to that long soak that is, admittedly, so nice…
Try Out Cold Wash Laundry Detergents
Cold wash laundry detergents – which are easy to find at most grocery stores – are not suitable for all items of clothing, but for heavy duty items like jeans and work clothes they do a pretty good job, and even running just a few loads of laundry a week on cold instead of hot can make a difference.
Consider an Upgrade
Most water heater manufacturers suggest that the average useful lifespan for their products is around 10-12 years. However, many can, and do, function for far longer than that. However, waiting to replace your hot water heater until it literally dies on you is rarely a good idea.
Technology in the water heater niche has come a long way, especially in the last ten years. What might have been cutting edge a decade ago is now probably rather out of date and there are many newer, more energy efficient options available right now that you should certainly consider exploring, before water heater replacement becomes an emergency necessity instead of a planned choice.
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