How Much Energy Does a Water Heater Use? 

Your faucets, showerheads and plumbing appliances use a lot of hot water. As a matter of fact, the Department of Energy states that water heating is the second-largest utility cost behind space heating and cooling, accounting for about 18% of your monthly bill. Learn 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 precise cost to run an electric water heater is determined by the size of the unit, how much you use it, its power needs and average costs for electricity. For example, 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 run per day, which approaches $35 each month or $426 annually. 

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

If your water heater runs using natural gas, you need to consider the size of the unit, how much you use it, its power draw and what you pay for natural gas. As an 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 approximately $18.60 monthly or $226 annually. 

Gas vs. Electric Water Heater Costs 

As you can see from the examples above, gas water heaters usually cost less to use 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 build 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 lower 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 faucet, you must pay to heat it. Modify your daily habits to help with energy bills. Here’s how: 

  • Take shorter showers.  
  • Only run the dishwasher and washing machine with full loads.  
  • Avoid pre-rinsing dishes before loading them into the dishwasher. 
  • Clean 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 example, one drip per second wastes over 1,600 gallons each year. Eliminate this waste by fixing 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 purchase quality, low-flow kitchen and bathroom fixtures for about $10 to $20 each, resulting in approximately 60% savings on water use. Try to find the ENERGY STAR® WaterSense label to maximize efficiency without negatively impacting 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 reduce the risk of scalding at the tap. Just don’t go any lower than 120 degrees to prevent microbial growth inside the tank. 

In case your water heater doesn’t have a temperature readout, determine the setting with a thermometer at the bathroom or kitchen tap. Adjust the water heater’s dial, wait two hours and check 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 insulation jackets available at home improvement retailers. Be careful 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 faucet. 

Buy More Efficient Equipment 

If the water heater is nearing 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 generating hot water on demand and cutting out standby heat loss. Save even more 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 fulfill any water heater repair or replacement request that comes our way. We carry top products from today’s best brands, including conventional tanks as well as tankless models, to suit your needs while staying in budget. To find out more, please contact your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office today. 

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