How Much Energy Does a Water Heater Use? 

Your faucets, showerheads and plumbing appliances consume lots of hot water. Believe it or not, the Department of Energy states that water heating is the second-largest utility cost behind space heating and cooling, accounting for roughly 18% of your monthly bill. Learn how much energy an average 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 depends on the square footage of the unit, how much you use it, its power requirements and what you pay for electricity. For instance, a medium-sized, 40-gallon water heater that needs 4500 watts and is active for 2 hours a day at a rate of $0.13 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) costs about $1.17 to operate per day, which approaches $35 each month or $426 per year. 

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

If your water heater uses 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 a couple of hours per day for a price of $1 per therm costs about $0.62 to operate per day, which comes to $18.60 monthly or $226 each year. 

Gas vs. Electric Water Heater Costs 

As you can conclude from the examples above, gas water heaters typically cost less to operate than equivalent electric models because natural gas prices are likely to run lower than the price of electricity. 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 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 faucet, you have to pay to heat it. Modify your everyday habits to lower your bills. Here’s how: 

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

Resolve Plumbing Leaks 

Leaky faucets, showerheads and pipes can waste significant amounts of hot water. For instance, one drip per second can waste as much as 1,600 gallons annually. Eliminate this waste by fixing plumbing leaks as soon as you identify them. 

Install Low-Flow Faucets and Showerheads 

Modern regulations require new showerheads to consume 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) or less while kitchen faucets are limited to 2.2 gpm. New bathroom faucets must have flow rates below 1.5 gpm. 

You can purchase quality, low-flow kitchen and bathroom fixtures for around $10 to $20 each, resulting in as much as 60% savings on water use. Look for the ENERGY STAR® WaterSense label to maximize efficiency without negatively impacting 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 reduce the possibility of scalding at the tap. Just don’t go any lower than 120 degrees to discourage 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 measure 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 insulation 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 to the hot and cold pipes coming from the water heater to help things heat up faster at the faucet. 

Buy More Efficient Equipment 

In case your water heater is nearing the end of its life span, think about replacing it with an ENERGY STAR-rated model. A tankless water heater is another option. This upgrade can save as much as 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 the 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 work with top products from today’s best brands, including traditional tanks as well as tankless models, to suit your needs while staying in your budget. To find out more, please contact your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office today. 

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