Energy Saving Tips - Water Heaters

The water heater is the second largest energy user in most homes. (Heating and air conditioning combined is usually the largest.) Using hot water efficiently enables residents to save energy and money every month on utility bills.

Factors that affect the amount of hot water a home uses include: the number of people using the hot water, how much they use, and the size of the tank. For instance, a family of four that takes lots of long showers and does several loads of laundry every day might use four or five times as much hot water as a person living alone who takes quick showers and only occasionally runs the dishwasher or laundry equipment. The size of the tank can limit how much hot water is used by limiting how much is available. A small water heater would keep showers short by running out of hot water.

Furthermore, the location of the tank can affect the amount of energy required by the water heater. One that is located in a hot garage will experience less stand-by heat loss than one located in a cold basement or chilly outdoor shed.

There are several ways you can reduce hot water needs and energy requirements:

  • Change some of the family's personal energy habits. By taking shorter showers or shallower baths, hot water needs are reduced. Reduce the water temperature to the lowest possible setting that still provides sufficient hot water.

  • Use a hot water wash on only those clothing items that require hot water, and always use a cold water rinse. Rinsing with warm water is wasteful and rarely if ever better than rinsing with cold water.

  • Install a more-efficient system (i.e. a well-insulated replacement water heater, a solar unit, a heat recovery device or a heat pump water heater.

  • On electric units, install a water heater timer. Setting a timer to heat water 4 to 5 hours a day (or less) can produce energy savings.

  • If the tank is warm to the touch, adding an insulating blanket can reduce heat loss and energy cost.

  • A more efficient system is ideal; but insulation and a change of habits cost little or nothing and can result in substantial savings on water heating.