When it's cold outside, your furnace and water heater probably run at full speed to keep you warm. Luckily, there are ways to save on your water heating bill without taking an icy shower.
Add insulation to your pipes and hot water heater.
Adding insulation to your pipes can raise the delivered water temperature by 2 to 4 degrees. This means that you can lower your water heater’s temperature, saving you money on your heating bill. Before you begin the project, choose the insulation you want to use, and purchase the needed amount of material. On gas water heaters, keep in mind that the insulation should be at least 6 inches from the flue; if you have 8 inches or less to work with, fiberglass pipe wrap is the safest and most effective option.
To insulate your pipes, measure the footage of the pipes you can access, being sure to include the first three feet of pipe from the water heater and the first three feet of the cold-water inlet. Cut the pipe sleeves into correctly sized pieces. Finally, place and secure the pipe sleeves with tape, wire, or a clamp.
Turn down your water heater.
Most water heaters have a factory setting of 140 degrees, but you can easily reduce that temperature to 120 degrees. Every 10 degrees you lower your water heater temperature could save you up to $10 a month on your hot water heating bill. Not only will reducing the temperature save you money on your heating bill, but it will also slow mineral buildup and corrosion in your pipes.
To lower the temperature on your water heater, first consult your owner’s manual. If your water heater is electric, make sure to shut off the electricity to your hot water heater before you begin. Locate the thermostat dial on your hot water heater, and simply dial the temperature back. Turn the dial in small increments, and test the water temperature after each adjustment. If you want to know the exact temperature of the water from the faucet after your adjustment, you can test it with a thermometer.
Install energy efficient appliances.
Energy-efficient appliances can save you money every time you use them. Replacing a washer that is more than 10 years old can save you more than $135 a year on your water heating bill. Be sure to shop around before purchasing a new appliance. When purchasing a new washing machine, look for a high integrated modified energy factor (IMEF) and a low integrated water factor (IWF) for optimal energy, water, and money savings. For more information on updating your appliances, check out this "Guide to Buying Energy Efficient Home Appliances."
Adjust dishwasher and washing machine usage.
Consider adjusting your washing machine to a “warm,” “cool,” or “cold” water temperature setting. Most clothes are easily cleaned in cooler temperatures, and using cooler temperatures will better preserve the structure and color of your clothing. Higher temperatures are needed for sanitization purposes when using your dishwasher, but be sure to run it only when it is completely full.
Don’t let the water run.
Turn off the water faucet while you are washing your hands, brushing your teeth, and working in the kitchen. Even a few seconds here and there can add up over time and add to your water and water heating bills. If there is a leaky faucet in your home, fix it as soon as possible. One drip per second can add an extra dollar to your monthly bill and waste more than 3,000 gallons of water in a year.
Not sure why your faucet is leaking? Read our article, "Why Is My Faucet Leaking?"
Projects for the Pros
There are more advanced ways to address your water heating bill. Make sure to contact a professional to
- Inspect your water heater
- Install a new, energy-efficient system
- Flush sediment from your water heater
- Repair your water heater
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