When we think of how to lower our energy costs, most people think about turning off their lights and lowering or raising their thermostats based on the season. But another important way that you can lower the cost of energy for your home is to reduce the amount of hot water you use. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, heating our water is the second highest energy cost for a residence, so focusing on hot water usage can yield significant savings for consumers. Check out these energy saving tips for some more specific guidance...
The easiest way to reduce your hot water usage is to simply take shorter showers. If you lower your showering time by just two or three minutes each day, you can save up to 150 gallons of hot water each month.
To easily reduce your hot water usage, fix your leaks. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that a leak of one drip per second can cost you $1 per month. In addition, you can save yourself the aggravation of listening to that pesky “drip-drip” sound. Check all of your faucets (including the showerhead) and your pipes. If your hot water heater tank is leaking, you’ll need to replace it.
Low Flow Fixtures
Due to federal regulations, new showerheads can’t have flow rates of more than 2.5 gallons per minute. If your showerhead was installed before 1992, you can save energy costs with a new one. There is an easy way to test this.
1. Place a one-gallon bucket in your shower.
2. Turn on the shower at the water pressure you normally use.
3. Time how many seconds it takes to fill the bucket.
If it takes less than 20 seconds to fill the bucket, you’ll want to replace your showerhead. Quality, low-flow fixtures can be purchased for about $10 to $20 each and will save you 25%–60% in hot water costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Think about replacing the aerator on your kitchen and bathroom faucets. The aerator is the screw-on tip of the faucet, and it is what will determine the water flow rate of your faucet. Kitchen aerators need to have a flow rate of 2.2 gallons or less while bathroom faucets flow at 1.5 gallons per minute or less. Make sure you take your current one to the store when you’re purchasing a new one so that you get the right fit.
Your clothes don’t have to be washed in hot water to be clean, so use warm or cold water for washing. Cold water is fine for rinsing.
If you have to purchase a new washing machine, look for an ENERGY STAR label for the best energy efficiency. Ensure that you purchase the appropriate size capacity washer for your needs. While you might be tempted to purchase a smaller capacity (which has a better EnergyGuide rating), it may cost you more in the long run if you have to wash more loads of clothes. Think about how many family members you have and the sizes of their clothes. For example, if you have two adults and two small girls, you won’t need to wash as many loads as if you have two adults and two teenage boys.
Washing a full load of dishes once a day in an energy efficient dishwasher uses less hot water than washing dishes by hand several times a day. If your dishwasher allows you to pick a cycle, use the shortest one to reduce energy costs.
When purchasing a new dishwasher, follow the same recommendations as for washing machines—look for the ENERGY STAR label and make sure you buy the correct size for your needs.
In summary, you can reduce your energy costs by reducing the amount of hot water you use in your home. You can also save by eliminating the waste of hot water.