Whether your plans are to buy a new water heater or not, you can save a lot of energy and money with your existing system by following a few simple suggestions.
- Conserve Water. Your biggest opportunity for savings is to use less hot water. A family of four each showering five minutes a day can use about 700 gallons per week. Water-conserving showerheads and faucet aerators can cut hot water use in half. That family of four can save 14,000 gallons of water a year and the energy required to heat it.
- Insulate Your Existing Water Heater. If your electric water heater was installed before 2004, installing an insulating jacket is one of the most effective do-it-yourself energy-saving projects, especially if your water heater is in an unheated space. The insulating jacket will reduce standby heat loss — heat lost through the walls of the tank — by 25-40%, saving 4-9% on your water heating bills.
- Insulate Hot Water Pipes. Insulating your hot water pipes will reduce losses as the hot water is flowing to your faucet and, more importantly, it will reduce standby losses when the tap is turned off and then back on within an hour or so. A great deal of energy and water is wasted waiting for the hot water to reach the tap. Even when pipes are insulated, the water in the pipes will eventually cool, but it stays warmer much longer than it would if the pipes weren't insulated.
- Lower the Water Heater Temperature. Keep your water heater thermostat set at the lowest temperature that provides you with sufficient hot water. For most households, 120°F water is fine (about midway between the low and medium setting). Each 10°F reduction in water temperature will generally save 3-5% on your water heating costs.