How Much Energy Does a Water Heater Use? 

Your faucets, showerheads and plumbing appliances consume plenty 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 a typical water heater uses and helpful tips to decrease your water heating costs. 

How Much Electricity Does an Electric Water Heater Use? 

The total cost to run an electric water heater depends on the size of the unit, how much you use it, its power requirements and average costs for electricity. For instance, 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 work per day, which comes to $35 monthly or $426 each year. 

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

If your water heater uses 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 instance, a medium-sized, 40-gallon water heater that uses .205 therms per hour and is active for a couple of hours a day for a price of $1 per therm costs about $0.62 to operate per day, which is roughly $18.60 monthly or $226 per year. 

Gas vs. Electric Water Heater Costs 

As you can determine from the examples above, gas water heaters generally cost less to run than similar electric models because natural gas prices are likely to run lower than electricity costs. Refine the calculations with your exact energy usage and rates to build a more accurate picture of gas vs. electric water heater expenses. 

Tips to Reduce Your Water Heating Bills 

Whether your water heater uses electricity or gas, you can lower your utility costs with these money-saving tips. 

Change Up Your Hot Water Habits 

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

  • Take faster showers.  
  • Only use the dishwasher and washing machine with full loads.  
  • Limit pre-rinsing dishes before loading them into the dishwasher. 
  • Clean your clothes in cold water if possible. 

Seal Plumbing Leaks 

Leaky faucets, showerheads and pipes can waste significant 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 laws 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 purchase quality, low-flow kitchen and bathroom fixtures for approximately $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 influencing 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 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 include 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 shows 120 degrees. 

Add Insulation 

Both electric and natural gas water heaters can be insulated with special jackets available at home improvement stores. Be careful 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. When 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 tap. 

Buy More Efficient Equipment 

In case 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 heating water on demand and eliminating 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 work with top products from today’s best brands, including traditional 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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