It makes sense when you consider all the showers, loads of laundry, and dishwashing you do every week – but it’s still a little painful to think about your hard-earned cash literally going down the drain that way.
If you want to chip away at that number, there are four basic ways to do it:
Use less water – The average American household uses more than 60 gallons of hot water a day, says the DOE. The total adds up quickly – take a look at these common tasks:
Laundry (medium) – 25-30 gallons
Shower (5 minutes) – 10+ gallons
Dishwasher (average) – 6 gallons
Kitchen / bathroom faucet – 2 gallons / minute
The good news is that making simple changes can have a significant impact on the amount of hot water you use over the course of a year. Installing inexpensive low-flow water faucets and showerheads, for example, can cut hot water use in half with no loss in comfort. Other changes – like washing your clothes in cold water and taking shorter showers – will also help.
Insulate – The water you pay to heat cools quickly en route to your taps and appliances. At minimum, insulate the first six feet of pipe leaving the tank, where most of that heat is lost. Also consider installing an insulating jacket on your water heater’s tank to avoid “standing loss” – heat lost to your cold basement as stored hot water sits awaiting use (or better yet, invest in a tankless water heater, which heats water on demand – you’ll save space, cut your bills by 30 percent or more, and enjoy unlimited hot water).
Turn down the heat – Many manufacturers set their water heating thermostat to a default of 130° or more; the DOE says that a setting of 120° offers the best balance of hot water comfort and efficiency.