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How Much Energy Does a Water Heater Use? 

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. Discover how much energy a typical water heater uses and helpful tips to scale back your water heating costs.

How Much Electricity Does an Electric Water Heater Use?

The total cost to run an electric water heater is based on the square footage of the unit, how much you use it, its power draw and local costs for electricity. As an example, a medium-sized, 40-gallon water heater that needs 4500 watts and is active for two hours a day at a rate of $0.13 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) costs about $1.17 to operate per day, which approaches $35 monthly or $426 each year.

How Much Natural Gas Does a Gas-Fired Water Heater Need?

If your water heater uses natural gas, you need to 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 a day at a cost of $1 per therm costs about $0.62 to operate per day, which is roughly $18.60 each month or $226 annually.

Gas vs. Electric Water Heater Costs

As you can conclude from the examples above, gas water heaters generally cost less to use than similar electric models because natural gas prices have a tendency to run lower than electricity costs. Refine the calculations with your exact energy usage and rates to build a more accurate picture of gas vs. electric water heater expenses.

Tips to Reduce Your Water Heating Bills

Whether your water heater uses electricity or gas, you can lower your utility costs with these money-saving tips.

Revise Your Hot Water Habits

Consider that each time you turn on a hot water faucet, you have to pay to heat it. Modify your everyday habits to reduce costs. Here’s how:

    • Take faster showers.
    • Only use the dishwasher and washing machine with full loads.
    • Limit pre-rinsing dishes before loading them into the dishwasher.
    • Wash your clothes in cold water if possible.

Repair Plumbing Leaks

Leaky faucets, showerheads and pipes can waste significant 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 identify 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 approximately $10 to $20 each, resulting in approximately 60% savings on water use. Look for the ENERGY STAR® WaterSense label to maximize efficiency without negatively influencing 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 reduce the chance of scalding at the tap. Just don’t go any lower than 120 degrees to discourage microbial growth within the tank.

If your water heater doesn’t have a temperature readout, determine the setting with a thermometer at the bathroom or kitchen faucet. Adjust the water heater’s dial, wait two hours and check the water’s temperature. Repeat this process until the thermometer reaches 120 degrees.

Add Insulation

Both electric and natural gas water heaters can be insulated with insulation jackets available at home improvement stores. Be careful to install the insulation correctly to avoid creating a dangerous operating situation. If you’re not sure how to proceed, ask a professional for help. Once 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 your 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 one such option. This upgrade can save approximately 34% on your water heating bills by generating hot water on demand and getting rid of 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 & Plumbing is your source for reliable, 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 work with top products from today’s best brands, including traditional tanks as well as tankless models, to suit your needs while staying in your budget. To get the full details, please contact your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office today.

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