How Much Energy Does a Water Heater Use? 

Your faucets, showerheads and plumbing appliances consume lots of hot water. As a matter of fact, the Department of Energy states that water heating is the second-largest utility cost behind space heating and cooling, accounting for roughly 18% of your monthly bill. Discover how much energy the average water heater uses and helpful tips to reduce your water heating costs. 

How Much Electricity Does an Electric Water Heater Use? 

The precise 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 what you pay 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 operate per day, which arrives at $35 monthly or $426 annually. 

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

If your water heater runs on natural gas, you need to consider the size of the unit, how much you use it, its power draw and the price for natural gas. For example, a medium-sized, 40-gallon water heater that uses .205 therms per hour and is active for a couple of hours per day at a cost of $1 per therm costs about $0.62 to operate per day, which comes to $18.60 per month or $226 per year. 

Gas vs. Electric Water Heater Costs 

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

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 

Keep in mind that every time you turn on a hot water tap, you have to pay to heat it. Modify your daily habits to help with energy bills. Here’s how: 

  • Take faster showers.  
  • Only run the dishwasher and washing machine with full loads.  
  • Minimize pre-rinsing dishes before placing them into the dishwasher. 
  • Clean your clothes in cold water as much as possible. 

Seal Plumbing Leaks 

Leaky faucets, showerheads and pipes can waste significant amounts of hot water. For instance, one drip per second wastes over 1,600 gallons annually. Eliminate this waste by fixing plumbing leaks as soon as you notice them. 

Install Low-Flow Faucets and Showerheads 

Modern laws 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 purchase quality, low-flow kitchen and bathroom fixtures for about $10 to $20 each, resulting in approximately 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 lower the risk of scalding at the tap. Just don’t go any lower than 120 degrees to avoid microbial growth within the tank. 

In case your 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 reaches 120 degrees. 

Add Insulation 

Both electric and natural gas water heaters can be insulated with insulation jackets available at home improvement stores. 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 approaching the end of its life span, think about replacing it with an ENERGY STAR-rated model. A tankless water heater is one such option. This upgrade can save up to 34% on your water heating bills by heating 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 the 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 work with top products from today’s best brands, including traditional tanks as well as tankless models, to suit your needs while staying in budget. To learn more, please contact your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office today. 

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