Water heaters are the second highest source of energy usage in the home, typically accounting for about 18% of your utility bill after heating and cooling. These 5 tips can help you save energy - and your wallet:
Mind your faucets.
Don't wait to fix leaks - just one drip per second can waste more than 1,600 gallons of water over the course of a year. Pay special attention to faucets aerators and shower heads. Low-flow aerators are inexpensive to replace and they can be one of the most cost-effective water conservation measures. You can also purchase quality, low-flow shower heads for around $10 to $20 at your local hardware store and achieve water savings of 25%–60%.
Use cold water.
The biggest cost of washing dishes and clothes comes from the energy required to heat the water. Despite popular belief, hot water is not necessary to ensure that dishes and clothes are clean. Use the cold water setting on your clothes washer and dishwasher - and hand-wash dishes in cold water as well - to cut down on costs. To ensure that your clothes washer is energy efficient no matter the water temperature, purchase one with an ENERGY STAR label.
Set it and forget it - for now.
Lower the temperature on your water heater to 120°F. For every 10ºF reduction in temperature, you can save up to 5% on water heating costs. When it comes time for a vacation, don't forget to revisit your water heater's thermostat. Most modern models come equipped with a "Vacation Mode" setting that will lower the temperature to an efficient level until you return. If not, you can manually adjust the temperature to 50°F to avoid wasting energy and adding to vacation costs.
Insulate & that's a wrap.
Just like insulating your walls or roof, insulating your hot water tank is an easy and inexpensive way to improve efficiency and save money. If your water tank is new, it is likely already insulated, but check to be sure an older tank is not warm to the touch. If so, it needs additional insulation. See DOE's step-by-step guide to effectively insulate your water heater tank, or contact a professional.
Look for the ENERGY STAR.
Don’t let your water heater drain your bank account. When your water heater stops working you have a great opportunity to upgrade to a more efficient system. Look for a qualified ENERGY STAR certified model and you won't just be assued you're getting a quality product, you could also be eligible for a rebate up to $500 from the DCSEU.