How Much Energy Does a Water Heater Use?

Your faucets, showerheads and plumbing appliances consume lots of hot water. In fact, the Department of Energy reports that water heating is the second-largest utility cost behind space heating and cooling, accounting for about 18% of your monthly bill. Discover how much energy the average water heater uses and helpful tips to decrease your water heating costs.

How Much Electricity Does an Electric Water Heater Use?

The total cost to run an electric water heater depends on the size of the unit, how much you use it, its power requirements and local costs for electricity. For 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 run per day, which arrives at $35 monthly or $426 per year.

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

If your water heater uses natural gas, you need to 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 a day at a cost of $1 per therm costs about $0.62 to operate per day, which is approximately $18.60 per month or $226 per 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 have a tendency 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 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.

Revise Your Hot Water Habits

Remember that each and every time you turn on a hot water faucet, you have to pay to heat it. Modify your daily habits to reduce costs. Here’s how:

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

Repair Plumbing Leaks

Leaky faucets, showerheads and pipes can waste significant amounts of hot water. For instance, one drip per second wastes over 1,600 gallons per year. Eliminate this waste by handling plumbing leaks as soon as you identify 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. New 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. Search for the ENERGY STAR® WaterSense label to maximize efficiency without negatively influencing 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 chance of scalding at the tap. Just don’t go any lower than 120 degrees to avoid microbial growth within the tank.

If the 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 test 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 insulated jackets available at home improvement retailers. Be mindful 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. Once the tank is insulated, add insulation to your hot and cold pipes coming from the water heater to help things heat up faster at the tap.

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 another 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 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

Bryant Heating & Cooling Service Experts is your source for dependable, 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 work with top products from today’s best brands, including traditional tanks as well as tankless models, to suit your needs while staying in budget. To learn more, please contact your local Bryant Heating & Cooling Service Experts office today.

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