The best way to save on water heating costs depends on how much hot water you use. If you use a lot of hot water, try strategies for reducing use. If you don’t use very much hot water, insulate your water heater or buy a new one.
If you use a lot of hot water for showering, a water-saving showerhead may save quite a bit of money. Look for a showerhead that is rated for between 1.5 and 2.5 gallons per minute. If your house tends to be a little humid, don’t buy the misty kind of showerhead.
New electric water heaters should have 3 inches of foam insulation and an Energy factor of at least 0.91.
Washing clothes in cold water can save you a lot on water-heating costs. Try it and see if your clothes come out acceptably clean. If not, the new horizontal axis clothes washers need less than half the hot water and energy of standard vertical-axis models. If you pump from a well, a new clothes washer saves on pumping costs too. Look for the green Energy Star® label on the washer, designating the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency’s highest rating.
Reducing your hot water temperature to the minimum acceptable level is an effective way to reduce water-heating energy costs.
Older water heaters were insulated with an inch or two of fiberglass insulation. New electric water heaters are insulated with 2 or 3 inches of foam, which is a much better insulator than fiberglass. If your water heater is more than 7 years old, you may want to order a new water heater now, to avoid having to buy whatever your supplier has in stock when yours springs a leak. When purchasing an electric water heater, order one that is insulated with 3 inches of foam or one with an Energy Factor of at least 0.91. When purchasing an gas water heater, order one that is insulated with 2 inches of foam or one with an Energy Factor of at least 0.62. If you’re going to keep your existing water heater, insulate it with a water-heater insulation blanket, available at hardware and department stores.
The Homeowners Handbook to Energy Efficiency contains simple, practical energy-efficiency ideas.