How Much Energy Does a Water Heater Use? 

Your faucets, showerheads and plumbing appliances consume plenty 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 approximately 18% of your monthly bill. Learn how much energy the 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 is based on the square footage of the unit, how much you use it, its power requirements and average costs for electricity. As an example, a medium-sized, 40-gallon water heater that uses 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 work per day, which arrives at $35 each month or $426 each 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. For instance, a medium-sized, 40-gallon water heater that uses .205 therms per hour and is active for two hours per day at a rate 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 determine from the examples above, gas water heaters generally cost less to run than equivalent electric models because natural gas prices are likely to run lower than electricity costs. Refine the calculations with your exact energy usage and rates to get a more accurate picture of gas vs. electric water heater expenses.

Tips to Reduce Your Water Heating Bills

Whether your water heater runs using electricity or gas, you can trim your utility costs with these money-saving suggestions.

Change Your Hot Water Habits

Keep in mind that each time you turn on a hot water faucet, you must pay to heat it. Modify your daily habits to reduce costs. Here’s how:

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

Resolve Plumbing Leaks

Leaky faucets, showerheads and pipes can waste significant amounts of hot water. For instance, one drip per second adds up to more than 1,600 gallons each year. Eliminate this waste by repairing plumbing leaks as soon as you discover 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. A new set of bathroom faucets must have flow rates below 1.5 gpm.

You can purchase quality, low-flow kitchen and bathroom fixtures for about $10 to $20 each, resulting in approximately 60% savings on water use. Look for the ENERGY STAR® WaterSense label to increase 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 lower the risk of scalding at the tap. Just don’t go any lower than 120 degrees to avoid microbial growth in the tank.

In case 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 check 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 special jackets available at home improvement retailers. Be careful 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. When 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 faucet.

Buy More Efficient Equipment

In case your water heater is nearing the end of its life span, consider replacing it with an ENERGY STAR-rated model. A tankless water heater is another option. This upgrade can save up to 34% on your water heating bills by generating hot water on demand and getting rid of standby heat loss. Save even more 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 satisfy any water heater repair or replacement request that comes our way. We offer top products from today’s best brands, including conventional tanks as well as tankless models, to suit your needs while staying in your budget. To get the full details, please contact your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office today.

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