After space heating and cooling, the biggest home-related expense for most households is water heating. The average American household spends up to $600 per year on hot water for bathing, laundry and other uses.

Most families spend far more money than necessary on water heating. By adopting a few easy habits, you can easily shave dollars off your heating bills each month, without sacrificing your comfort or enjoyment of your hot water. Here are some ways to do it:

Set Your System for Savings

  • Set your hot water temperature at 120 degrees. This is plenty warm enough for household use, and prevents scalding, too.
  • Insulate your hot water pipes. Insulating your pipes is easy and will not only keep your hot water warmer, but will reduce the time you wait for hot water to run.
  • Install heat traps on your hot water tank. These are little loops of pipe that prevent hot water from backing up in your pipes when not in use. Many newer water heaters have built-in heat traps. If yours doesn’t, installing them could save you significant money on your hot water bill.
  • Install low-flow fixtures such as water saving showerheads and faucet aerators.
  • Fix leaky faucets and pipes. Little drips add up: one drip per second costs $1 per month.
  • Put your system on a timer. Standard water heaters draw energy whether or not you’re using hot water. Set your system to turn off at night or when you’re not home.
  • Eliminate drafts in your bathroom. How many times have you spent an extra few minutes in the shower putting off having to step into a cold room? Make sure your bathroom is well insulated, use caulk around windows and trim to eliminate drafts, and shut your bathroom door tightly.

Modify Your Habits to Use Less Hot Water Without Even Noticing

  • Wash most laundry with cold water. For most loads, you really won’t notice the difference. Even for loads you wash in hot, you can still use cold water for the rinse cycle.
  • Avoid letting the water run. Train yourself to shut the water off when you’re not actively using it, such as when leaving the shower to fetch your razor, or getting more dirty dishes to wash from across the kitchen.
  • Run your dishwasher only when full.
  • Choose the energy-saving cycle on your dishwasher.
  • Choose showers instead of baths. OK, maybe you will notice this one. But if you have a water-saving showerhead, you’ll use significantly less hot water in the shower than in the bath.

Choose Your Appliances Carefully

  • Choose Energy Star-qualified dishwashers and washing machines. They will save significant amounts of both water and electricity over their lifetimes.
  • Switch to a more efficient water heater. Select an Energy Star-approved model for greatest savings.

And if you are really serious about saving in the long run, consider solar hot water. Solar water heaters provide copious amounts of water, heated for free by the sun! To find out more, request a free solar estimate here.