How Much Energy Does a Water Heater Use? 

Your faucets, showerheads and plumbing appliances consume lots of hot water. Believe it or not, 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. Discover how much energy the 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 is based on the square footage of the unit, how much you use it, its power needs and average costs 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 run per day, which arrives at $35 each month or $426 per 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 what you pay 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 a 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 typically cost less to use than equivalent electric models because natural gas prices are likely to run lower than the price of electricity. Refine 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 cut your utility costs with these money-saving tips.

Change Your Hot Water Habits

Remember that each time you turn on a hot water tap, you have to pay to heat it. Modify your day-to-day habits to lower your bills. Here’s how:

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

Resolve Plumbing Leaks

Leaky faucets, showerheads and pipes can waste large quantities of hot water. For instance, one drip per second can waste as much as 1,600 gallons annually. Eliminate this waste by repairing plumbing leaks as soon as you identify 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 around $10 to $20 each, resulting in up to 60% savings on water use. Look for the ENERGY STAR® WaterSense label to maximize 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 possibility of scalding at the tap. Just don’t go any lower than 120 degrees to discourage microbial growth inside the tank.

If 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 test the water’s temperature. Repeat this process until the thermometer reads 120 degrees.

Add Insulation

Both electric and natural gas water heaters can be insulated with special jackets available at home improvement stores. Be mindful to install the insulation correctly to avoid creating a dangerous operating situation. If you’re not sure how to proceed, ask a professional for help. After the tank is insulated, add insulation to your hot and cold pipes coming from the water heater to help things heat up faster at the tap.

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 a good option. This upgrade can save approximately 34% on your water heating bills by producing 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 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 satisfy any water heater repair or replacement request that comes our way. We work with top products from today’s best brands, including conventional tanks as well as tankless models, to suit your needs while staying in budget. To get the full details, please contact your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office today.

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