Water heating accounts for roughly 12% of the average homeowner’s utility bill. This cost is the second largest, right after home heating and cooling. Nationally, water heating accounts for 18% of the entire country’s residential energy consumption.

With figures this high, it should be top of mind for all homeowners to learn how to heat water more efficiently.

Long showers, leaky faucets, and inefficient appliances are just a few of the common culprits that add to energy and water costs. 

By using these eight tips, you can help lower your bills and make your household more efficient.

1. Avoid Running Hot Water Unnecessarily 

There are a few common ways to reduce your water usage during everyday tasks. For instance, do you leave the water running while you brush your teeth? When you do the dishes, do you keep the water running as you grab more plates to wash, or as your drying mugs? 

These wasteful water habits are common, and many of us have performed them our entire life without thinking about it. But, those extra minutes of water running frivolously can add up. 

Remember to turn off the water when you’re not actively using it.  

2. Repair Leaky Faucets Immediately

A dripping faucet is more than an annoying sound. It’s also a massive waste of resources and money. Did you know that a leak of one drip per second can cost $1 per month? Replacing your faucets is a simple fix — even the most amateur DIYer can handle. And, the upgrade will save you a chunk of change every year.  

Learn how to repair a leaking faucet with this video from Home Depot:

Do you have a leaky faucet? Use this drip calculator to see how much it’s costing you. 

3. Install Low-flow Faucets in Your Home

According to HGTV, combined, showers and faucets use about 23% of an American home’s water. This water usage surpasses the amount of water used to flush toilets to wash clothes in a machine.  

By installing a low-flow faucet to reduce water consumption, you can use anywhere from 25%–60% less water each month. This reduction translates into about $50 to $90 of savings on hot water bills each year. And, it only costs about $10 to purchase a low-flow faucet. 

4. Install New Showerheads

If you haven’t updated your showerheads in a while, your flow rate might be costing you. Specifically, showerheads that were created before 1992 have flow rates of 5.5 gallons per minute. Modern showerheads are nearly half that rate with the average product using 2.5 gallons per minute. 

That means if you have an old showerhead, a 10-minute shower will use 55 gallons of water. With a new showerhead, a 10-minutes shower will only use 25 gallons, a significant savings. 

Don’t know how much your shower uses? You can easily find out. Place a bucket with gallon increments marked on it under your showerhead, and turn it on. Keep track of how long it takes to fill the bucket with one gallon of water. If it takes less than 20 seconds, you should purchase a low-flow showerhead.

Additional Tips: take showers over baths. And, when you take showers, focus on lowering the temperature or spending less time in the shower. The less time you’re in, the less water you’ll use. 

5. Practice Better Dishwasher Etiquette

Did you know that if you don’t pre-wash your dishes before placing them in the dishwasher, you can save up to 15 gallons of water per dishwasher load? You can save additional water by:

  • Only running full loads
  • Choose shorter wash cycles
  • Activate the booster heater 

If it fits into your budget, you might also consider upgrading your dishwasher altogether. According to energystar.gov, a dishwasher built before 1994 wastes more than 10 gallons of water per cycle. A new, ENERGY STAR certified dishwasher will save, on average, 3,870 gallons of water over its lifetime.

6. Buy an Insulation Jacket for Your Hot Water Heater

According to Energy.Gov older hot water tanks lose 25%–45% more heat than modern appliances. That loss translates into extra money on your water heating bill each month. 

Luckily, there is a solution. Look to see if your tank has insulation with an R-value of at least 24. If not, go out to the store and purchase pre-cut jackets or blankets for your water heater. They cost about $20 but can save you 7%–16% on water heating costs. 

For extra savings, considering insulating the first few feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater, too.

7. Lower the Temperature on Your Water Heater

Though many manufacturers automatically set water heaters to 140°, the average household only needs it to be set at 120° F to stay comfortable. According to Energy.gov, keeping your water heater at 140° can waste anywhere from $36 to $61 annually in standby heat losses and more than $400 when the heater is in use.  

For every 10° reduction in your water heater temperature, you can save 5% on your heating bills. 

8. Consider Purchasing Updated Appliances

Above, we discussed the savings potential with a new dishwasher. However, other appliances can also add to your savings. For example, a new ENERGY STAR washing machine can save over $135 per year if your existing appliance is 10 years old or older. 

If it’s been a while since you’ve updated your hot water tank, it might be worth seeing what state-of-the-art technology can do for you. Modern water tanks can save you up to 30% on your bill each month over conventional water heaters. 

If you’re looking to appliances in your home, start by looking for rebates and discounts to help reduce costs for you. 

Where to Start

Don’t feel intimidated by a heavy checklist. You don’t need to tackle all eight steps immediately ⁠—  especially those tasks that require an investment. 

Instead, start small. For example, practice getting in the habit of turning the water off every time you brush your teeth. Then, the next month, consider replacing your showerheads. Finally, when the time is right, make a larger investment for new appliances.

Incremental changes add up to considerable savings over time.

Want to learn more about hot water tanks?

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