How Much Energy Does a Water Heater Use?

Your faucets, showerheads and plumbing appliances consume a lot of hot water. In fact, the Department of Energy says 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 reduce your water heating costs.

How Much Electricity Does an Electric Water Heater Use?

The total cost to run an electric water heater is determined by the square footage of the unit, how much you use it, its power requirements and what you pay for electricity. For instance, a medium-sized, 40-gallon water heater that draws 4500 watts and is active for 2 hours a day at a rate of $0.13 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) costs about $1.17 to work per day, which comes to $35 per month or $426 per year.

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

If your water heater runs using natural gas, you need to consider the size of the unit, how much you use it, its power draw and the price for natural gas. For example, a medium-sized, 40-gallon water heater that uses .205 therms per hour and is active for a couple of hours a day at a cost of $1 per therm costs about $0.62 to operate per day, which comes to $18.60 each month or $226 each year.

Gas vs. Electric Water Heater Costs

As you can conclude from the examples above, gas water heaters usually cost less to run than similar electric models because natural gas prices have a tendency to run lower than electricity costs. Fine-tune 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 trim your utility costs with these money-saving tips.

Change Your Hot Water Habits

Keep in mind that each and every time you turn on a hot water faucet, you must pay to heat it. Modify your daily habits to lower your bills. Here’s how:

  • Take shorter showers. 
  • Only run the dishwasher and washing machine with full loads. 
  • Limit pre-rinsing dishes before loading them into the dishwasher.
  • Clean your clothes in cold water as much as possible.

Resolve Plumbing Leaks

Leaky faucets, showerheads and pipes can waste large amounts of hot water. For instance, one drip per second can waste as much as 1,600 gallons each year. Eliminate this waste by repairing plumbing leaks as soon as you notice them.

Install Low-Flow Faucets and Showerheads

Modern laws require new showerheads to consume 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) or less while kitchen faucets are limited to 2.2 gpm. A new set of bathroom faucets must have flow rates below 1.5 gpm.

You can purchase quality, low-flow kitchen and bathroom fixtures for around $10 to $20 each, resulting in up to 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 standard setting is 140 degrees. Lower this to 120 degrees to save on water heating costs and reduce the chance of scalding at the tap. Just don’t go any lower than 120 degrees to prevent microbial growth in the tank.

If your water heater doesn’t have a temperature readout, determine the setting with a thermometer at the bathroom or kitchen faucet. Adjust the water heater’s dial, wait two hours and check the water’s temperature. Repeat this process until the thermometer shows 120 degrees.

Add Insulation

Both electric and natural gas water heaters can be insulated with insulation jackets available at home improvement retailers. Be careful 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. After the tank is insulated, add insulation to the 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, think about replacing it with an ENERGY STAR-rated model. A tankless water heater is one such option. This upgrade can save as much as 34% on your water heating bills by heating water on demand and cutting out standby heat loss. Save energy and lower costs by replacing your hot water appliances with high-efficiency models, including your dishwasher and washing machine.

Schedule Water Heater Services with an Expert

McKinley Heating Service Experts is your source for dependable, affordable water heater services in North America. Our highly trained technicians can fulfill 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 within budget. To learn more, please contact your local McKinley Heating Service Experts office today.

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