How Much Energy Does a Water Heater Use? 

Your faucets, showerheads and plumbing appliances consume a lot of hot water. In 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. Discover 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 precise cost to run an electric water heater is based on the size of the unit, how much you use it, its power requirements 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 comes to $35 monthly or $426 per year. 

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

If your water heater runs using natural gas, you must consider the size of the unit, how much you use it, its power draw and typical costs for natural gas. As an example, a medium-sized, 40-gallon water heater that uses .205 therms per hour and is active for two hours per day for a price of $1 per therm costs about $0.62 to operate per day, which is roughly $18.60 monthly or $226 each year. 

Gas vs. Electric Water Heater Costs 

As you can determine from the examples above, gas water heaters generally cost less to use than similar electric models because natural gas prices tend to run lower than electric prices. 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 runs using 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 and every time you turn on a hot water faucet, you need to pay to heat it. Modify your everyday habits to lower your bills. Here’s how: 

  • Take quicker 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 as much as possible. 

Repair Plumbing Leaks 

Leaky faucets, showerheads and pipes can waste large quantities of hot water. For instance, one drip per second adds up to more than 1,600 gallons per year. Eliminate this waste by handling plumbing leaks as soon as you identify 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 around $10 to $20 each, resulting in approximately 60% savings on water use. Look for the ENERGY STAR® WaterSense label to increase efficiency without negatively influencing performance. 

Turn Down the Water Heater Temperature 

The standard 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. 

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 test the water’s temperature. Repeat this process until the thermometer reads 120 degrees. 

Add Insulation 

Both electric and natural gas water heaters can be insulated with insulation jackets available at home improvement retailers. 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. Once 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 

If the water heater is approaching the end of its life span, think about replacing it with an ENERGY STAR-rated model. A tankless water heater is a good 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 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 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 work with 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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