Next to heating and cooling, water heating is typically the largest energy user in the home.
Energy Conservation Tips
- Setting your water heater thermostat at or slightly below the manufacturer's recommendation may prevent scalding and help lower your energy costs. Although some manufacturers set water heater thermostats at 140ºF, most households usually only require them set at 120ºF. If your water heater doesn't show the temperature on the water heater dial, you can easily test your water temperature. Mark the beginning temerature and the adjusted temperature on the thermostat dial for future reference. After turning it down, check the water temperature with a thermometer at the tap farthest from the water heater.
- If you have a gas water heater, turn it to the "Pilot" setting when you go on vacation. If you have an electric water heater, shut it off at the circuit breaker.
- Insulate exterior, uncovered hot water pipes.
- Showers can account for over 50 percent of your hot water usage. Take shorter, cooler showers rather than baths.
- Save up to 10 percent of hot water costs by washing full laundry loads in cold water.
- Wash full loads in the dishwasher.
Types of Water Heaters
- Storage Water Heaters - Ranging in size from 20 to 80 gallons, storage water heaters work by heating up water in an insulated tank and storing it for use.
- Tankless Water Heaters - Tankless water heaters do not contain a storage tank. A burner heats water only when there is a demand for hot water. Most tankless water heaters can be installed inside or outside, and take up less space than a storage water heater.
- Solar Water Heaters - These use energy from the sun to heat water. Most solar water heaters require a well-insulated storage tank. Solar water heating systems almost always require a backup system for cloudy days and times of increased demand.
Selecting Energy-Efficient Appliances
- When buying a new water heater, choose an ENERGY STAR® rated gas model.
- Check with your local water utility to see if they have rebates on water heaters.
- The energy efficiency of a storage water heater is indicated by its "Energy Factor" (EF). The higher the EF, the more efficient the water heater. For example, a .67 EF 40 gallon model can save up to $360 over the lifetime of the heater.
- Don’t buy a water heater bigger than you need. Before you shop, estimate your household's peak hour demand and look for a water heater with the capacity to meet that demand.
- Check the Energy Guide label to help choose an energy thrifty water heater.
- Always consult a contractor when considering a tankless water heater installation.
- Low-interest financing may be available for the installation of energy-efficient water heating systems.
- Read our tips on selecting a qualified plumbing and heating contractor.
- Check for available rebates.
Where can I get more information about water heaters?
- Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at www.eere.energy.gov *
Where can I buy Energy Star products
- Visit the Energy Star store locator*