From beach day to laundry day, summer usually means an increase in the amount of water we use on a daily basis. Fortunately, you don’t need that water to be quite as hot as you would in the winter (cold showers when it’s 40 degrees outside? No thank you!). But keeping water hot is both necessary and expensive. It’s necessary because heated water prevents bacteria from forming in stored water, it reduces the energy required to heat water in appliances – increasing appliance efficiency and reducing operating cost – and because pre-heated water means you’ll use less when you’re waiting for it to warm up for a bath or shower. But constantly heating your water gets expensive fast so it’s a good idea to cut costs where you can.
The Free Options
- Use Less Hot Water – Switch to showers instead of baths, take shorter showers (or slightly colder baths), and don’t let the water just run if you don’t need it. That means turning off the shower to lather up or turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, use cold water when washing clothes (if possible), and always washing clothing and dishes with a full load rather than multiple small loads. The goal is to reduce the amount of hot water used and reduce how much energy your heater uses.
- Lower the Temperature – You can save money by lowering your hot water tank temperature to 120°F (never lower it further than this). If you don’t need the heat, dial it down a little.
- Turn Off Heat on Vacation – Turn off the heat and drain your tank if you’re going to be gone for more than two weeks. Otherwise, you’ll just be wasting money on heated water you won’t use. Just be sure to refill the tank before turning on the heat again.
- Fix Leaks – This is a simple one. Find places where your hot water lines are leaking and have them repaired. Fix faucets and spigots to prevent water leaks that waste hot water. This will save you on both water costs and heating costs this summer.
- Insulation – Just like your home, insulating your water tank and the first few feet of pipe will prevent heat losses. The less heat you lose, the lower your energy costs to keep your water hot.
- Schedule Regular Maintenance – Have your water heater maintained at least twice a year (schedule it alongside your HVAC system maintenance to help you remember both).
The Long-Term Options
- Upgrade Your Tank – While expensive, if your water heater is more than 10-years old, it’s time to upgrade anyway. Install a newer, energy-efficient system or a tankless water heater to help you save on heating costs.
- Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Appliances – Low-flow fixtures and energy-conscious appliances will reduce how much hot water you need with little impact on your daily life. This is the most expensive option but, over the lifetime of your home, it will save you a great deal of money on heating. Especially if you already need to replace existing appliances.