How Much Energy Does a Water Heater Use? 

Your faucets, showerheads and plumbing appliances consume plenty of hot water. Believe it or not, the Department of Energy says that water heating is the second-largest utility cost behind space heating and cooling, accounting for approximately 18% of your monthly bill. Find out more about 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 exact cost to run an electric water heater is determined by the square footage of the unit, how much you use it, its power draw and average costs for electricity. As an example, a medium-sized, 40-gallon water heater that draws 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 per year.

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

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

Gas vs. Electric Water Heater Costs

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

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 suggestions.

Revise Your Hot Water Habits

Keep in mind that every time you turn on a hot water faucet, you need to pay to heat it. Modify your daily habits to lower your bills. Here’s how:

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

Resolve Plumbing Leaks

Leaky faucets, showerheads and pipes can waste large amounts of hot water. For example, one drip per second can waste as much as 1,600 gallons annually. Eliminate this waste by handling plumbing leaks as soon as you identify 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 approximately 60% savings on water use. Try to find the ENERGY STAR® WaterSense label to increase 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 minimize the risk of scalding at the tap. Just don’t go any lower than 120 degrees to prevent microbial growth in the tank.

If the water heater doesn’t have 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 reads 120 degrees.

Add Insulation

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. After 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 nearing 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 as much as 34% on your water heating bills by heating water on demand and getting rid of standby heat loss. Save even more 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 carry top products from today’s best brands, including traditional tanks as well as tankless models, to suit your needs while staying within budget. To get the full details, please contact your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office today.

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