Cut down on your hot wa­ter use for util­ity sav­ings

The Day - - HOME SOURCE - By Day Mar­ket­ing

The ar­rival of warmer tem­per­a­tures in spring means you can fi­nally think about shut­ting off your heat, sav­ing a con­sid­er­able amount of money on your monthly heat­ing bills – at least un­til win­ter rolls around again. But un­like your fur­nace, your wa­ter heater has to re­main on duty through­out the year.

The typ­i­cal house­hold uses hot wa­ter for bathing, wash­ing clothes, and laun­dry, plus a few other in­ci­den­tal pur­poses. Even when you aren't do­ing any of these ac­tiv­i­ties, many wa­ter heaters use en­ergy to keep the wa­ter in their tank warm at all times in case it is needed.

A few sim­ple up­grades to your wa­ter heat­ing sys­tem can help you save money on your util­ity bills. You can also re­duce your hot wa­ter use by mod­i­fy­ing some of your be­hav­iors around the home.


A few sim­ple up­grades to the wa­ter heater can re­sult in con­sid­er­able sav­ings. The Depart­ment of En­ergy says ev­ery 10 de­grees of tem­per­a­ture re­duc­tion on the wa­ter heater's ther­mo­stat can re­duce en­ergy us­age by 3 to 5 per­cent. Joe Bousquin, writ­ing for the home im­prove­ment site HouseLogic, says many wa­ter heaters are pre­set at 140 de­grees. Low­er­ing the ther­mo­stat to 120 de­grees will not only save you money, but also re­duce the risk of scald­ing.

The ther­mo­stat may not be en­tirely ac­cu­rate, so it's help­ful to test the wa­ter to see if it is too hot. Drain some wa­ter from the faucet far­thest from the heater, then use a thermometer to test it. If the read­ing is higher than the ther­mo­stat, re­duce the tem­per­a­ture and wait a few hours to test the tem­per­a­ture again.

Drain­ing sed­i­ment from the wa­ter heater can pro­long its life­span and also help it to run more ef­fi­ciently. You can fully drain the tank once or twice a year, or drain a quart ev­ery three months to help keep sed­i­ment lev­els down.

Tanks on older wa­ter heaters may not be in­su­lated, so some of their heat will be ra­di­ated to the sur­round­ing air. Cov­er­ing the tank with an in­su­lat­ing blan­ket will keep the wa­ter warmer, so you'll use less en­ergy heat­ing it.

When putting a blan­ket on the tank, make sure you don't cover any essential com­po­nents such as the ther­mo­stat, air in­take, or ex­haust. Make sure your tank isn't al­ready in­su­lated, since adding an ex­tra layer to this type of wa­ter heater won't re­sult in sig­nif­i­cant sav­ings.

Heat traps can also be help­ful in re­duc­ing the amount of en­ergy used by a wa­ter heater. The Depart­ment of En­ergy says these devices pre­vent heat loss through pip­ing, and typ­i­cally re­sult in $15 to $30 in sav­ings. Some newer wa­ter heaters may al­ready have this fea­ture in­stalled.

Timers on your wa­ter heater can be very use­ful, as they shut the ap­pli­ance off overnight or at other times when you won't need hot wa­ter. Sim­i­larly, you can set the ther­mo­stat to its "va­ca­tion" set­ting when you go away for a trip to keep the wa­ter heater from un­nec­es­sar­ily hav­ing a sup­ply of hot wa­ter ready.

Pipe in­su­la­tion can also re­duce heat loss as the hot wa­ter is trans­ported to its des­ti­na­tion, so you'll use less en­ergy in the process. Union Gas, a Cana­dian nat­u­ral gas com­pany, says you'll only need to in­su­late the first six feet of hot wa­ter pipes com­ing out of the wa­ter heater and the first three feet of cold wa­ter plumb­ing. Make sure the in­su­la­tion is at least six inches away from the wa­ter heater's ex­haust vent.

If your wa­ter heater is old and in­ef­fi­cient, it may be time to up­grade to a bet­ter model for sig­nif­i­cant sav­ings on your hot wa­ter costs. Some more ef­fi­cient fea­tures in­clude so­lar wa­ter heaters and drain wa­ter heat re­cov­ery, which re­cov­ers heat from hot wa­ter that goes down the drain.


You'll also re­duce the util­ity bills related to your hot wa­ter if you sim­ply use less hot wa­ter. The Depart­ment of En­ergy says you can shorten your show­ers, and per­haps even turn off the wa­ter while us­ing soap and sham­poo.

In­stead of leav­ing the wa­ter run­ning when us­ing warm or hot wa­ter, fill the sink to have a sup­ply avail­able. The En­ergy Ef­fi­ciency and Con­ser­va­tion Au­thor­ity, a New Zealand or­ga­ni­za­tion, says this is use­ful for tasks such as wash­ing dishes or shav­ing.

If you have a dish­washer, avoid us­ing it un­til it is fully loaded. Many dish­wash­ers also have an "eco" op­tion to limit their use of hot wa­ter.

Warm and hot wa­ter is of­ten rec­om­mended for light and white loads of laun­dry, but you can also con­sider do­ing each wash with cold wa­ter. Union Gas says cold wa­ter de­ter­gent is avail­able to en­sure that your clothes will still get clean. Al­ways use a cold wa­ter rinse on wash cy­cles.


Sav­ing money on your hot wa­ter en­ergy use also goes hand in hand with re­duc­ing your wa­ter use. Leaks can cause a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in your wa­ter bill, so be on the look­out for any drip­ping wa­ter. Bob Formisano, writ­ing for the home de­sign site The Spruce, says a leak­ing wa­ter heater is a sign that the ap­pli­ance needs to be re­placed.

Faucets are a com­mon cul­prit in wa­ter leaks, and can re­sult in sev­eral gal­lons of wa­ter go­ing down the drain each week. The prob­lem is usu­ally caused by a prob­lem such as a wornout washer, which can be eas­ily fixed.

If you are in the mar­ket for a new washer, dish­washer, or other wa­ter-us­ing ap­pli­ance, check the rat­ings to find an ef­fi­cient model. These ap­pli­ances can save you thou­sands of gal­lons of wa­ter over their life­span.

One sim­ple up­grade in­volves re­plac­ing your show­er­head. Older show­er­heads can emit wa­ter at a rate of six to 10 gal­lons per minute. Re­plac­ing them with low-flow show­er­heads can drop this rate by as much as 80 per­cent, con­sid­er­ably re­duc­ing a house­hold's wa­ter us­age.

Faucet aer­a­tors have a sim­i­lar ef­fect. The EECA says these devices can cut a faucet's wa­ter flow in half, but still main­tain enough pres­sure for you to com­fort­ably wash your hands or com­plete other tasks.

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