Often when we consider how to decrease the costs of our electric bill each month, we think of turning off the lights, changing the thermostat, or only using our washing machine or dishwasher when full. But a primary consumer of energy in your home is probably that big tank sitting in your garage.
According to our energy service advisors, your water heater accounts for 14-20% of your electric bill. Try out these tips from PEC to save more throughout the year.
Install a timer
A basic water heater will run three to five hours a day to keep its tank heated 24/7. That’s going to cost you.
Average water heaters in households of three to four residents end up costing the customer approximately a dollar per gallon in tank size to run, totaling an average of $400 – $600 annually according to Energy Service Advisor Sarah Fischer. A family of four with a 50-gallon water heater can see up to an extra $50 on their monthly bill. Installing a timer on your water heater so it runs only when needed — like in the mornings and evenings for washing dishes and using the shower — can decrease this cost greatly.
“With an electric water heater, you can save an additional 5%-12% of energy by installing a timer that turns it off when hot water isn’t needed for your household,” Fischer said.
Set your water heater to 120 degrees
The temperature of your water heater can be set as high as 140 degrees, but at this temperature, your water heater can waste anywhere from $36- $61 annually in standby heat losses. According to our energy service advisors, 120-125 degrees should best serve most households. At this temperature, you aren’t wasting energy or money.
Most new homes won’t have exposed water lines, but it’s best to double check. Insulating your hot water pipes reduces heat loss and can raise the water temperature by 2-4 degrees, which helps with reducing the thermostat temperature.
Seeing as your pipes are not protected from your water heater’s freeze prevention system, it’s best to wrap your external pipes with heat tape, fiberglass, or polyethylene wrap for optimal protection. Doing so will also help to protect from frozen pipes during extremely cold weather.
Think twice about demand-type heaters
Tankless or demand-type heaters provide hot water only as needed, instantaneously. While this may seem like an easy solution at first, it’s not that simple, according to Fischer.
“Demand water heaters can be 24-34% more energy efficient than conventional storage tank water heaters because you don’t need to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water,” she said. “However, a tankless water heater’s output limits the flow rate. And although gas-fired tankless water heaters tend to have higher flow rates than electric ones, they can waste energy if they have a pilot light.”
Learn about hot water circulating pumps
Hot water circulating pumps are efficient in preventing excess water waste, as they keep hot water always flowing through your pipes so your water is automatically warm when you turn it on. However, in doing this, it can also increase your electric bill, Fischer said.
And in the warm months, added heat in the floors and walls will make your air conditioning unit work harder. And as many know, air conditioners also use significant energy — 55% of your bill, https://www.pec.coop/savings/residential-savings/energy-saving-tips/.
Timers are considered the best way to manage water heater usage.
Interested in learning more about savings? Check out more at pec.coop/savings.