Keep plenty of warm water on hand while keeping your electric bill under control with the following tips:
- Lower the temperature setting of your water heater; this not only saves energy, but it reduces the chance of scalding injuries. A 10° F reduction in temperature saves about 13% of your water heating costs. For an average family this amounts to savings of $30 if you heat water with gas or $60 with electricity. A temperature setting of 120° F should be fine, unless your dishwasher doesn't have a booster heater.
- Wrapping your water heater with an insulating blanket can save $20 annually if you have a gas water heater or $50 per year if you have electric. To see if your tank needs an insulation blanket, place your hand on the tank. If it feels warm to the touch then you need a blanket to keep the warmth in.
- Insulate water lines; if the pipes that supply hot water throughout your house are hot to the touch, then heat is being lost. By insulating hot water pipes you can reduce this loss. Start at the water heater and insulate all of the accessible pipe. If the pipe where cold water enters the water heater also feels warm, then you should insulate that pipe as well.
- Don't let the water run. Minimize water use while brushing teeth, shaving, and washing hands in bathroom sinks.
- Fix drippy faucets right away. A faucet that leaks one drip per second can waste 400 gallons of water a year. If the water is hot, that 400 gallons will cost you about $8 if you heat water with electricity or $4 if you heat water with gas, plus the cost of the water itself.
- Upgrade your showerheads. Federal standards limit new showerheads to no more than 2.5 gallons per minute, because the energy and water savings are enormous. Replacing older showerheads with low flow units could save a family of four as much as 15,000 gallons of water per year, reducing water heating costs by over $150 for electric hot water and over $60 for gas.
- Install a water softener unit in-line before the water heater; this will prevent sediment from building up in the bottom of the water heater. Your water heater will then heat more efficiently, and the elements and tank will last longer.
Replace your water heater if it is over 10 to 15 years old as newer models will save considerable energy.