Simple Ways To Cut the High Cost of Hot Water

by Janean Nusz
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Your hot water heater is one of the bigger consumers of energy in your home. Take the steps to cut the high cost of your hot water use.

Hot water. It is something we all like unless it applies to our budget.

According to the US Department of Energy, heating water accounts for about 20% of your energy expenses. In most homes, only the cooling and heating systems use more energy than hot water systems. reports that the average electric hot water heater costs $438 in energy per year while the average gas hot water heater costs $224 per year.

Given these statistics, you can certainly see that heating water can be expensive, and with today’s high energy costs, you’ll need to find ways to cut these costs. Read on to discover some simple, and a few not as simple, ways you can cut the high cost of hot water.

An obvious way to save

One way is quite simple, use less hot water!

You can do this by repairing faucet and other leaks in a timely manner and installing low-flow faucets and shower heads.

Have family members take showers instead of baths, whenever possible. You may be surprised to realize that a family of four, showering seven minutes a day each day with a regular-flow shower head, uses almost 450 gallons of water in one week. (source: That amount can be cut in half if you use a low-flow shower head. Consider that most, if not all, of that 450 gallons of water had to be heated before it was used, and you’ll realize that the savings of 225 gallons will look quite good to your budget and will more than make up for the cost of the new showerhead. (See also: 21 Ways to Save Water and Money)

Did you know that depending on the type of washing machine you have, 75-90% of the energy required to do a load of laundry comes from heating the water? Couple that with the fact that cold water washing can actually make clothes last longer and you can see quite a bit of savings by washing with cold water as much as possible.

To reduce water consumption further, be sure to buy cost-effective low water and energy usage dishwashers and washing machines whenever you have to replace an appliance. These will use less hot water, and save you money over time.

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Cut costs at the source

Other ways to cut costs is to lower your water heater thermostat to 120 degrees, insulate your water heater storage tank and provide regular maintenance for the unit at least every three months.

The maintenance can be as simple as draining one quart of water to remove the sediment build up inside the tank. Removing the sediment will improve heat transfer rates and keep the efficiency of your water heater at a high level. In areas with a high-mineral content in the water supply, it may be advisable to do this at least once a month. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions before draining the heater for maintenance and insulating, as you won’t want to damage the unit.

Most water heaters, when maintained properly, can last 10-12 years. Remember though, when your water heater has squeezed out its last drop of hot water, and it’s time to finally purchase a new one, be sure to compare the Energy Guide labels and purchase the most efficient model with best EnergyStar rating.

3 more hot water savings to consider

To save money over the long haul, consider these alternatives:

1. Research switching to a heat pump water heater.

In some areas, they can be very inexpensive and effective.

2. Consider solar power water heating if you have any open south-facing, unobstructed areas close to your home.

Many solar models are environmentally friendly, reducing the amount of harmful gas emissions that come from their electrically-powered competitors. In a 20-year study, a single solar water heater was shown to have produced 50 tons less of carbon dioxide emissions than a regular, electric water heater. And, solar water heaters are, of course, energy friendly, and can even be installed on your roof.

Some states offer a renewable energy credit or rebate on taxes for installing solar power devices. Check with your accountant to find out if your state qualifies, or look up your state on the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy website.

3. Consider installing a drain waste water heat recovery system.

Studies show that these systems can result in a savings of 25-30% for water heating.

Use these tips to start beating the rising costs of energy. They’ll help keep your budget out of hot water while keeping your family supplied with it.

Reviewed November 2022

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