Your faucets, showerheads and plumbing appliances use a lot of hot water. As a matter of fact, the Department of Energy reports that water heating is the second-largest utility cost behind space heating and cooling, accounting for roughly 18% of your monthly bill. Discover how much energy an average water heater uses and helpful tips to scale back your water heating costs.
How Much Electricity Does an Electric Water Heater Use?
The exact cost to run an electric water heater is based on the size of the unit, how much you use it, its power needs and what you pay for electricity. For example, a medium-sized, 40-gallon water heater that uses 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 run per day, which arrives at $35 per 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 typical costs for natural gas. For example, a medium-sized, 40-gallon water heater that uses .205 therms per hour and is active for a couple of hours a day at a rate of $1 per therm costs about $0.62 to operate per day, which is roughly $18.60 monthly or $226 per year.
Gas vs. Electric Water Heater Costs
As you can determine from the examples above, gas water heaters generally cost less to run than comparable electric models because natural gas prices tend to run lower than electric prices. Fine-tune the calculations with your exact energy usage and rates to get a more accurate picture of gas vs. electric water heater expenses.
Tips to Reduce Your Water Heating Bills
Whether your water heater runs on electricity or gas, you can cut your utility costs with these money-saving suggestions.
Change Your Hot Water Habits
Consider that every time you turn on a hot water tap, you must pay to heat it. Modify your everyday habits to reduce costs. Here’s how:
- Take shorter showers.
- Only use the dishwasher and washing machine with full loads.
- Minimize pre-rinsing dishes before loading them into the dishwasher.
- Wash your clothes in cold water whenever possible.
Resolve Plumbing Leaks
Leaky faucets, showerheads and pipes can waste large quantities of hot water. For instance, one drip per second adds up to more than 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. A new set of bathroom faucets must have flow rates below 1.5 gpm.
You can purchase quality, low-flow kitchen and bathroom fixtures for around $10 to $20 each, resulting in up to 60% savings on water use. Try to find the ENERGY STAR® WaterSense label to increase efficiency without negatively impacting performance.
Turn Down the Water Heater Temperature
The standard setting is 140 degrees. Lower this to 120 degrees to save on water heating costs and minimize the chance of scalding at the tap. Just don’t go any lower than 120 degrees to discourage microbial growth within the tank.
In case 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 test the water’s temperature. Repeat this process until the thermometer reaches 120 degrees.
Both electric and natural gas water heaters can be insulated with insulation jackets available at home improvement stores. Be careful 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. When 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 tap.
Buy More Efficient Equipment
If the water heater is approaching the end of its life span, look at replacing it with an ENERGY STAR-rated model. A tankless water heater is a good option. This upgrade can save approximately 34% on your water heating bills by heating water on demand and cutting out standby heat loss. Save energy and lower costs by replacing your hot water appliances with high-efficiency models, including your dishwasher and washing machine.
Schedule Water Heater Services with an Expert
Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning is your source for dependable, 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 work with top products from today’s best brands, including conventional tanks as well as tankless models, to suit your needs while staying in your budget. To learn more, please contact your local Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning office today.