Your faucets, showerheads and plumbing appliances consume lots 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 approximately 18% of your monthly bill. Learn how much energy a typical water heater uses and helpful tips to reduce your water heating costs.
How Much Electricity Does an Electric Water Heater Use?
The exact cost to run an electric water heater depends 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 needs 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 run per day, which approaches $35 per month or $426 annually.
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 instance, a medium-sized, 40-gallon water heater that uses .205 therms per hour and is active for two hours a day at a rate of $1 per therm costs about $0.62 to operate per day, which comes to $18.60 each month or $226 each year.
Gas vs. Electric Water Heater Costs
As you can see from the examples above, gas water heaters usually cost less to operate than similar electric models because natural gas prices tend to run lower than electricity costs. 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 trim your utility costs with these money-saving tips.
Change Up Your Hot Water Habits
Keep in mind that each time you turn on a hot water tap, you have to pay to heat it. Modify your everyday habits to reduce costs. Here’s how:
- Take faster showers.
- Only run 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 as much as possible.
Seal Plumbing Leaks
Leaky faucets, showerheads and pipes can waste large quantities of hot water. For instance, one drip per second wastes over 1,600 gallons per year. Eliminate this waste by repairing plumbing leaks as soon as you discover 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 find quality, low-flow kitchen and bathroom fixtures for about $10 to $20 each, resulting in as much as 60% savings on water use. Search for 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 prevent microbial growth within 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.
Both electric and natural gas water heaters can be insulated with insulated jackets available at home improvement stores. Be mindful to install the jacket correctly to avoid creating a dangerous operating situation. If you're unsure 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
In case your water heater is getting close to the end of its life span, think about replacing it with an ENERGY STAR-rated model. A tankless water heater is one such option. This upgrade can save up to 34% on your water heating bills by producing hot water on demand and cutting out 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
McElroy Service Experts 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 carry top products from today’s best brands, including traditional tanks as well as tankless models, to suit your needs while staying within budget. To learn more, please contact your local McElroy Service Experts office today.