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Do Hot Water Heaters Use a Lot of Electricity

By now, we all know about rising energy costs. Everyone’s looking to save money, especially when it comes to rising electric bills.

Some of the culprits are obvious. Air conditioners in the summer are costly, and so are electrical dryers. But most people don’t know that their hot water heater is the second biggest electricity user in their homes—according to the US Department of Energy, hot water heaters typically account for 18 percent of the cost of home energy bills.

There are ways to cut those costs and the amount of electricity water heaters use, but to do that you have to know how they work and some of the things you can do to reduce water heater cost.

How Does a Hot Water Heater Work?

Typically, hot water heaters work by using an electric heating element or a gas burner at the bottom of your water tank. They usually run for about three hours a day, and the amount of electricity they use is determined in part by the temperature setting on your thermostat.

How Does Your Electric Hot Water Heater Work?

When water enters your home through your main water line, the electric heating element starts to do its job. As it does the hottest water rises to the top of the tank, where it travels through a pipe to your hot water tap.

What Role Does Your Hot Water Tank Play?

Your hot water tank is basically an insulated storage device. It holds 20-80 gallons of water, and most families use a hot water heater with a capacity of 40-60 gallons.

How Does a Natural Gas Water Heater Work?

In a natural gas hot water heater, the heating mechanism is a gas burner. Like the electric water heater element, the gas burner is located at the bottom of the hot water tank.

Water Heater Cost and Electric Energy Usage

One of the most important parts of water heater cost is your energy rating, which is also called the EF. The EF is a number that ranges for 0.75 to 0.95, and its determined by several factors:
o water tank size
o the amount of hot water you use
o your preferred temperature setting
o the age and condition of your hot water tank
o water tank insulation and ongoing maintenance

Is a Tankless Water Heater Better?

There are many reasons to go tankless when it comes to heating your water, and lowering your electric bill is definitely one of them.

They can cut your water heating costs by as much as 35 percent, and you’ve have an endless supply of hot water, even if your hot water usage is spread out over several tasks at once.

You’ll have a constant supply of hot water, but one thing to keep in mind is that you will forfeit some temperature control, as tankless water heaters aren’t usually good at producing lukewarm water.

How to Cut Electric Water Heater Cost

Outfit your hot water heater with an insulation jacket, and insulate the first six feet of pipe coming out of the tank.

You can pick one up at any hardware or big box store, or you can let a qualified plumber from 128 Plumber install one for you.

Use a Timer to Cut Water Heater Electricity Cost

Most hot water tanks run constantly, which is part of why they tend to be electricity hogs. Installing a heater timer is a cheap, easy way to cut your electricity cost and energy consumption.

How much can you save by doing this? Most studies land in the 12 percent range, so it’s well worth your while to install a timer that only makes hot water available when you need it.

Change Your Laundry Habits to Cut Electric Energy Usage

Another easy way to lower your hot water heater bill is to changing your laundry habits. As much as 90 percent of the energy consumed by your washing machine goes to heat the water you use, so cold water washing can make a big difference, especially if you do full loads.

Use the Thermostat on Your Hot Water Heater

Your thermostat setting can be a hidden energy cost. One reason your hot water heater uses a lot of electricity is the setting. Studies have shown that setting the thermostat on your hot water heater to 130-140F can save you a significant amount on your electrical bill.

Check the Sediment Level in Your Hot Water Tank

While lowering the thermostat temperature is a fairly obvious solution, cutting the sediment buildup in your tank is a hidden way to cut costs.

Sediment tends to build up in the bottom of the tank, but there is a valve on the side of your tank that will help cut the buildup. Do it twice a year as part of a 128 Plumbing maintenance plan, and you’ll save yourself some money without having to cut back as much on your hot water usage.

Efficiency Rating and Water Heater Electric Cost

Spending some extra money to get a hot water heater with an EF of 0.90 or higher can make a big difference in your hot water heater cost, especially over time.

To give you an idea of how this all works, let’s run some numbers. The average water heater runs for about three hours every day, and if you have a 50 gallon, 5500 watt water heater with a. 0.90 EF and an electricity rate of $0.16 per kilowatt hour, your cost will be $781.

Consider a Water Heater Electric Evaluation and Maintenance Plan from 128 Plumbing

Getting your hot water heater evaluated to control your electric bill is a great way to save money, and it will also help prevent unnecessary repairs. We can evaluate your boiler or furnace as part of this kind of plan, which will save you even more and give you great protection.

Call us at (888) 419-4233 or (781) 670-3261, and when you contact us, we’ll answer your hot water heater electricity questions and keep yours running at peak energy usage and efficiency.

To get more information, you can also go to 128Plumbing.com and start a live chat, and we have some great blogs and articles there to help educate you about heating water and lowering your electric costs.

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