For most people, the hot water heater is one of those appliances that is out of sight and out of mind. However, when you take a look at your utility bills each month just think of 60% of that total dollar being attributed to the water heater … not so out of mind anymore, right?
It stands to reason that if you use “barely warm” water at the faucet, you are saving money on hot water because you are not using as much hot water. However, your hot water heater holds several gallons of water in the tank (unless it is a tankless system) and maintains the set temperature 24/7. This means that regardless of how much hot water you use at the tap, the water in the tank is always being heated.
Hot water heaters last for at least 10 years and in that time federal regulations will change. If your water heater is almost 10 years old, it likely has much less insulation than say if it were 2 years old. The insulation in your water heater plays a big role in how much power is used to keep the water hot. The more insulation, the more heat is trapped and the less power is used to heat the water. It takes far more energy for a well-insulated water heater to keep the water in the tank heated to 150 degrees than 120 degrees. And, if your water heater is poorly insulated – the energy used is even higher.
Lowering the temperature on your water heater can make a significant impact on your power bill. However, if you must have scalding hot water at a moment’s notice there are some things that you can do to keep your water heater turned up and still minimize your power bill.
Insulate. You can purchase a water heater insulating blanket that you wrap around the tank to keep the heat in. This is especially important during the winter months when the weather is cold and the water in the tank cools down more quickly. You can also insulate the hot water pipes coming out of the hot water heater. As the hot water moves through these pipes it does cool down a bit, so insulating them will help to limit that cooling.
Low-flow. To save money on your utility bills elsewhere, you can install low-flow fixtures in the bathroom and kitchen. These include shower heads, water faucets, and toilets. This will allow you to make an impact on your utility bills without having to lower the temperature on your water heater.
Water and power efficiency are top of mind for many homeowners. Turning down the temperature on your water heater can definitely lower your power bill.