How Much Energy Does a Water Heater Use? 

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

How Much Electricity Does an Electric Water Heater Use? 

The exact cost to run an electric water heater is based on the size of the unit, how much you use it, its power requirements and average costs for electricity. For example, a medium-sized, 40-gallon water heater that needs 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 run per day, which arrives at $35 per month or $426 annually. 

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

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 what you pay for natural gas. As an example, 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 each year. 

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 have a tendency to run lower than electricity costs. Fine-tune the calculations with your exact energy usage and rates to get 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 lower your utility costs with these money-saving tips. 

Change Up 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 day-to-day habits to reduce costs. Here’s how: 

  • Take shorter showers.  
  • Only use the dishwasher and washing machine with full loads.  
  • Avoid pre-rinsing dishes before you load them into the dishwasher. 
  • Wash your clothes in cold water if possible. 

Resolve Plumbing Leaks 

Leaky faucets, showerheads and pipes can waste large quantities of hot water. For instance, one drip per second adds up to more than 1,600 gallons per year. Eliminate this waste by repairing plumbing leaks as soon as you identify them. 

Install Low-Flow Faucets and Showerheads 

Modern rules require new showerheads to consume 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) or less while kitchen faucets are limited to 2.2 gpm. A new set of 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. Try to find the ENERGY STAR® WaterSense label to increase efficiency without negatively impacting performance. 

Turn Down the Water Heater Temperature 

The default setting is 140 degrees. Lower this to 120 degrees to save on water heating costs and minimize the risk of scalding at the tap. Just don’t go any lower than 120 degrees to avoid microbial growth in the tank. 

In case your water heater doesn’t have a temperature readout, determine the setting with a thermometer at the bathroom or kitchen faucet. Adjust the water heater’s dial, wait two hours and check 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 special jackets available at home improvement retailers. Be mindful to install the jacket correctly to avoid creating a dangerous operating situation. If you’re not sure how to proceed, 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 nearing the end of its life span, look at replacing it with an ENERGY STAR-rated model. A tankless water heater is one such option. This upgrade can save as much as 34% on your water heating bills by generating hot water on demand and getting rid of 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 dependable, affordable water heater services in North America. Our highly trained technicians can fulfill any water heater repair or replacement request that comes our way. We offer top products from today’s best brands, including traditional tanks as well as tankless models, to suit your needs while staying in your budget. To get the full details, please contact your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office today. 

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