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 reports 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 a typical 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 needs and average costs for electricity. For instance, a medium-sized, 40-gallon water heater that draws 4500 watts and is active for just two hours a day at a rate of $0.13 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) costs about $1.17 to operate per day, which approaches $35 monthly or $426 per year.

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

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 typical costs 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 rate of $1 per therm costs about $0.62 to operate per day, which is roughly $18.60 per month or $226 each year.

Gas vs. Electric Water Heater Costs

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

Tips to Reduce Your Water Heating Bills

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

Revise Your Hot Water Habits

Keep in mind that each and every time you turn on a hot water faucet, you have to pay to heat it. Modify your daily habits to reduce costs. Here’s how:

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

Repair Plumbing Leaks

Leaky faucets, showerheads and pipes can waste significant amounts of hot water. For instance, one drip per second adds up to more than 1,600 gallons each year. Eliminate this waste by handling plumbing leaks as soon as you notice 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 purchase quality, low-flow kitchen and bathroom fixtures for about $10 to $20 each, resulting in up to 60% savings on water use. Try to find the ENERGY STAR® WaterSense label to maximize 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 chance of scalding at the tap. Just don’t go any lower than 120 degrees to avoid microbial growth inside the tank.

If the 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 reaches 120 degrees.

Add Insulation

Both electric and natural gas water heaters can be insulated with insulation jackets available at home improvement stores. 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. After the tank is insulated, add insulation to 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, look at replacing it with an ENERGY STAR-rated model. A tankless water heater is one such option. This upgrade can save approximately 34% on your water heating bills by heating water on demand and eliminating standby heat loss. Save even more 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 fulfill any water heater repair or replacement request that comes our way. We carry 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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