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 says that water heating is the second-largest utility cost behind space heating and cooling, accounting for approximately 18% of your monthly bill. Discover how much energy an average 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 depends on the square footage of the unit, how much you use it, its power requirements and local costs for electricity. For instance, a medium-sized, 40-gallon water heater that needs 4500 watts and is active for two hours a day at a rate of $0.13 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) costs about $1.17 to work per day, which arrives at $35 each month or $426 per year.

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

If your water heater runs on natural gas, you have to consider the size of the unit, how much you use it, its power draw and what you pay for natural gas. For instance, a medium-sized, 40-gallon water heater that uses .205 therms per hour and is active for two hours a day at a cost of $1 per therm costs about $0.62 to operate per day, which comes to $18.60 each month 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 comparable electric models because natural gas prices have a tendency to run lower than electric prices. Fine-tune 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 runs using electricity or gas, you can cut your utility costs with these money-saving tips.

Change Up Your Hot Water Habits

Remember that each time you turn on a hot water faucet, you must pay to heat it. Modify your daily habits to lower your bills. Here’s how:

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

Resolve Plumbing Leaks

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

Install Low-Flow Faucets and Showerheads

Modern rules 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 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 within the tank.

If your water heater doesn’t include 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 reaches 120 degrees.

Add Insulation

Both electric and natural gas water heaters can be insulated with insulation jackets available at home improvement stores. Be careful to install the jacket correctly to avoid creating a dangerous operating situation. When in doubt, 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, look at replacing it with an ENERGY STAR-rated model. A tankless water heater is a good option. This upgrade can save up to 34% on your water heating bills by generating hot water on demand and eliminating 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 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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