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Better Water Heating: 10 Energy Efficiency Tips

by Daniel Estevao on January 14, 2016

how to save money on water heating bills

Conventional, storage tank water heaters are used in most homes in the United States. Rather than heating water when you need it (as with tankless water heaters), water that sits in the tank has to constantly be reheated.

As a result, “water heating is the second largest energy expense in your home,” accounting for about 18% of your total utility bill (heating and cooling is the largest energy consumer) (U.S. DOE).

It should come as no surprise then, that homeowners are looking for ways to reduce the operating cost of their storage water heaters. Luckily, there are many ways to cut your water heating bills!

Water Heating Energy Efficiency Tips 

Following the recommendations from the U.S. Department of Energy, here are 10 ways to save money on your water heating bill:

  1. Insulate your water heater tank and hot water pipes, “but be careful not to cover the water heater’s top, bottom, thermostat, or burner compartment.” You can find insulating materials at your local home improvement or hardware store. Always follow the manufacturer instructions and if you are in doubt, call on the services of a professional. Learn more about insulating your water heater and hot water pipes.
  2. If you have an electric water heater, you may want to consider switching to a gas-fired one, which uses less energy. Additionally, heat pump water heaters can offer even better energy efficiency ratings (in some areas), saving you an average of 50% over electric water heaters. Heat pump water heaters can be very cost effective in some areas. Heat pump water heaters can cut water heating costs by an average of 50% over standard electric water heaters. It’s best to consult with a professional to decide which water heater would be most cost-effective for you.
  3. Install low-flow, aerating plumbing fixtures – faucets and showerheads. Look for the WaterSense label.
  4. Reduce the temperature dial on your water heater from the typical 140 degrees to a more energy-efficient 120 degrees. “For every 10º reduction in temperature, you can save from 3%–5% on your water heating costs” (S. DOE). As a bonus, you will reduce the risk of scalding.
  5. Learn how to detect leaks in your plumbing system by reading your water meter’s leak detection dial. One drip per second wastes over 1,600 gallons of water and can cost you upwards of $35 per year. Your may have a leak you don’t even know about! Click here for help locating and reading your water meter.
  6. Use less hot water! Did you know that the average American shower lasts around 8 minutes and uses about 17 gallons, at a flow rate of 2.1 gallons? That means that if you cut your shower time to 5 minutes, you will save about 7 gallons of water, amounting to 2555 gallons of saved water over the course of the year! Although not for everyone, consider taking a “navy shower,” where you turn on the water to get wet, then turn off the water while you wash your body and hair, and finally turn the water back on to rinse.
  7. You can purchase and install a water heating timer for your water heater so that it turns off at night and turns back on again in the morning. The timer can also be set to turn off the water heater during peak utility demands.
  8. Although most new water heaters have heat traps built in, if yours doesn’t, ask a professional to install a heat trap for you, which saves about $30 on your water heating bill.
  9. Improve your water heater efficiency by draining the tank at least once a year. Learn how to flush the sediment from your water heater.
  10. Consider updating your clothes washer and dishwasher to save both energy and water. Upgrading to energy efficient appliances is a great choice all around.

Lastly, you may want to replace your older, inefficient water heater with a new, more energy-efficient one. Refer to this infographic by the U.S. Department of Energy for more information on the choices available to you:

Water Heating Choices and Considerations

Signs Your Water Heater is About to Fail

  • Unit is 10+ years old
  • Noisy and delayed startups
  • Calcium and sediment buildup
  • Rusty water
  • Water under or around water heater

More information on the different water heater options available to you.

Puget Sound Water Heating

Although choosing the right water heater is important, it is even more important to hire the right technician for the job. Schedule your free water heater consultation with the professionals at Pacific Air Systems by calling (253)292.3995 or by scheduling online.

We have the experience and tools to repair and install any kind of water heater you may want: electric, gas, tank, tankless, and heat pump. Get professional recommendations and save time and money by going with a company that backs up all of their work with industry-leading warranties and guarantees.

NEW Water Heater Efficiency Standards

This is especially important considering the new water heater regulations that went into effect April 16, 2015.

Per the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act, all new water heaters (gas, propane, oil, and electric) must meet the new energy requirements. This means a higher upfront cost, but the difference is made up by the higher efficiency standards. You can find yourself in “hot water” if you don’t hire a professional to abide by all new federal regulations.

Click here for information on rebates and tax incentives for energy-efficient water heaters in and around Puget Sound.


Call Pacific Air Systems Heating & Cooling at (253) 292-3995 for 24/7 service, holidays included!

For over 30 years, Pacific Air Systems has been proudly serving the Puget Sound region: Federal Way, Graham, Spanaway, University Place, Steilacoom, Sumner, Lakewood, Puyallup, Tacoma and Gig Harbor.

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