The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that heating water for use in your home accounts for 12 to 18 percent of your energy bill. Here’s how to lower that number:
The simplest way to use less hot water is to take shorter showers.
Do take showers, though; you’ll use a lot more hot water filling a big bathtub than you will during a 10-minute shower.
Turn the water heater off if you’ll be away from home for a few days. You could buy a $50 timer from the hardware store that will turn it on and off automatically, but it could take a couple of years before your energy savings repays you for the investment.
Install low-flow showerheads and faucets. Fixtures pre-dating 1992 poured 5.5 gallons of water out a minute. Newer models use 2.5 gallons or less. The less hot water you use, the less energy you’ll spend to heat it. The DOE estimates you can save 25 to 60 percent on water use and heating with low-flow fixtures.
Insulate your water heater. If yours is relatively new, it has plenty of built-in insulation. If it’s older, wrap it in a blanket designed for the water heater. You also can insulate the first few feet of the hot and cold pipes that connect to your water heater. That reduces heat loss, and could heat the water up quicker. For electric water heaters, buy pipe sleeve insulators with polyethylene or neoprene foam.
Fix leaky faucets. The less water you waste, the less you’ll have to pay to heat.