Imagine a gallon of milk in your refrigerator.
Now imagine 70 of them.
If you live in the average American household, that’s about how much hot water you’ll use every day – and you’re paying to heat every single one of them. It’s no wonder, then, that heating water typically accounts for 20 percent or more of your monthly energy bill.
The totals add up quickly – consider the water needed for these common tasks:
- Laundry (medium) – 25-30 gallons
- Shower (5 minutes) – 10+ gallons
- Dishwasher (average) – 12 gallons
- Kitchen / bathroom faucet – 2 gallons / minute
The good news is there are some easy ways to reduce the amount of hot water you use without sacrificing your quality of life at home. Here are six of them:
- Fix Leaks – A one-drip-per-second leak from a single faucet wastes 2,777 gallons of water a year, according to the USGS Water Sciences School. You can significantly reduce hot water use by simply repairing leaks in faucets, showerheads, and pipes.
- Install low-flow showerheads – If your home was built before 1994, chances are you have showerheads with a flow rate of 5.5 gallons per minute (gpm) or higher. Since 1994, manufacturers have been required to cut that flow rate to a maximum of 2.5 gpm. By replacing your older showerhead, you can reduce hot water usage in your shower by half (or more) with no loss of comfort.
- Replace your faucet aerators – Just like your showerhead, the aerator on your faucet (the screw-on tip) regulates water flow from your tap (it’s also responsible for mixing air with your water so it comes out in an even stream). By swapping the 2.2 gpm aerator in your kitchen with a 1.0 gpm model you’ll cut your hot water consumption in half.
- Wash your clothes in cold water – Laundry detergents have come a long way over the years; most today work perfectly well in cold water. If you still feel you need to use warm water, choose the right load setting for the amount of clothes you’re washing.
- Buy energy efficient appliances – A high-efficiency upgrade to your current appliances can have a significant impact on your energy use – often enough to offset the cost of the new equipment within a few years. A high efficiency dishwasher, for example, can use as little as six gallons of hot water per load – less than half as much as many older models. If you want to ensure that your new appliance is energy efficient, buy one with an ENERGY STAR® label.
- Consider a tankless water heater – Some of the energy spent on hot water actually comes from RE-heating it – an inescapable problem when you have a water heater that stores hot water in a tank until it’s ready to use. A tankless propane water heater, on the other hand, doesn’t store any water; instead, it heats it on demand, so you only pay to heat the water you need. On average, they will last about twice as long as conventional water heaters, too, and without a tank, they’re much more compact – about the size of a suitcase, which means they can be mounted in crawl spaces, on walls, and in other tight spots.
On the minus side, they’re considerably more expensive to purchase – although the energy you’ll save will offset that cost in just a few years.
The bottom line: It’s easy to cut down on the energy you spend to heat water without sacrificing your comfort or quality of life at home – just follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way.
Did you know that measures like replacing shower heads and aerators are included in your CMC Home Energy Audit – or that you could be eligible for low- or no-cost upgrades to your old, energy-sucking appliances? Contact us today at 203-774-4059 to learn more!