How Much Energy Does a Water Heater Use? 

Your faucets, showerheads and plumbing appliances use lots of hot water. In fact, 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 an average water heater uses and helpful tips to decrease your water heating costs.

How Much Electricity Does an Electric Water Heater Use?

The exact cost to run an electric water heater depends on the size of the unit, how much you use it, its power requirements and what you pay 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 comes to $35 per month or $426 each year.

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

If your water heater uses natural gas, you have to consider the size of the unit, how much you use it, its power draw and typical costs for natural gas. For instance, a medium-sized, 40-gallon water heater that uses .205 therms per hour and is active for two hours a day at a cost of $1 per therm costs about $0.62 to operate per day, which comes to $18.60 monthly or $226 annually.

Gas vs. Electric Water Heater Costs

As you can conclude from the examples above, gas water heaters usually cost less to operate than similar electric models because natural gas prices are likely to run lower than electric prices. Fine-tune the calculations with your exact energy usage and rates to create 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 tips.

Revise Your Hot Water Habits

Remember that each time you turn on a hot water faucet, you need to pay to heat it. Modify your day-to-day habits to reduce costs. Here’s how:

    • Take quicker showers.
    • Only run the dishwasher and washing machine with full loads.
    • Avoid 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 amounts of hot water. For instance, one drip per second can waste as much as 1,600 gallons each year. Eliminate this waste by fixing plumbing leaks as soon as you notice 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 buy quality, low-flow kitchen and bathroom fixtures for about $10 to $20 each, resulting in as much as 60% savings on water use. Look for the ENERGY STAR® WaterSense label to increase efficiency without negatively influencing 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 possibility of scalding at the tap. Just don’t go any lower than 120 degrees to avoid microbial growth inside the tank.

If 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 measure the water’s temperature. Repeat this process until the thermometer shows 120 degrees.

Add Insulation

Both electric and natural gas water heaters can be insulated with insulation jackets available at home improvement retailers. Be careful to install the insulation correctly to avoid creating a dangerous operating situation. When in doubt, ask a professional for help. Once the tank is insulated, add insulation around the hot and cold pipes coming from the water heater to help things heat up faster at the faucet.

Buy More Efficient Equipment

If your water heater is getting close to the end of its life span, look at replacing it with an ENERGY STAR-rated model. A tankless water heater is another option. This upgrade can save up to 34% on your water heating bills by generating hot 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 & 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 conventional 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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