Reducing Hot Water Use
One of the easiest and most practical ways to cut your water heating costs
is to simply reduce the amount of hot water being used. In most cases,
this can be done with little or no initial cost and only minor changes
in lifestyle. Some common-sense tips for reducing hot water use include:
Install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators. These devices regulate
water flow and can save substantial amounts of both energy and water.
Low-flow showerheads can reduce flow rates from around 5 gpm (gallons per
minute) to 2.5 gpm or less, and are easy and inexpensive to install. Hot
water use for an average shower can be reduced from around 50 gallons to
25 gallons or less. There are a wide variety of low-flow showerheads
available, including the popular pulsating or "massage" type.
Some of these showerheads incorporate a valve or pushbutton which allows
the user to interrupt the water flow while "soaping up", saving
Take showers instead of baths. With a low-flow showerhead installed,
showering may use only one-third the hot water of a bath.
Take shorter showers. The amount of water used is directly related to the
time spent in the shower.
Use the lowest temperature wash and rinse settings on clothes washers.
An average load of laundry uses about 32 gallons of water. Switching
from hot to cold water will not only save the energy used to heat the
water, but can also reduce fading and shrinkage of clothes.
- Operate clothes washers and dishwashers only when full. An automatic
dishwasher typically uses about 8 to 14 gallons per cycle. Consider
using the "light wash" cycle for lightly soiled dishes -
it can save about 3 gallons per cycle. For smaller loads of laundry,
use the lowest available water level setting.
Fix any leaks in pipes or faucets. A leaky faucet can waste 3,000
gallons or more every year. If the leak is in a hot water pipe or faucet,
the energy savings could easily pay for fixing the leak.
Don't leave hot water running while washing or shaving - this wastes
both energy and water.
Reducing water use in general can also result in lower water and sewer
costs, and can extend the life of plumbing equipment. Operating clothes
washers and dishwashers only when full will also extend the life of these
appliances, because they will ultimately be used fewer times.
Examples of Savings
If your water is heated electrically, it takes about 15 kWh to heat 100
gallons of water 60° F. If you wash two loads of clothes
per week, and can switch from hot to cold water, you could save as much
as $182 or more per year (assuming a cost of $0.2694/kWh).