Make My Home More Energy Efficient: Water Heating

water heater

Making your home as energy efficient as possible requires looking at the house from various angles. You have to take different approaches depending on the way energy is being used. 

Water heating is the perfect example. Energy is spent on the express purpose of heating the water up to the desired temperature. This requires a totally different approach compared to improving the energy efficiency of lighting or air conditioner use.

In this post, we’re taking a closer look at how to reduce water-heating energy use throughout the home.

Switch to an On-Demand Water Heater

Tankless, or on-demand, water heaters use high-intensity burners to heat water quickly when it’s needed. In contrast, the 30-60 gallons of water stored in a tank water heater is continuously heated.

After extensive testing, it’s clear tankless water heaters are more energy-efficient than their older sibling the storage-tank water heater. EPA estimates put the annual energy savings at 8-34% depending on what you currently have and how much hot water you use. Plus, tankless water heaters can last 20+ years as opposed to 10-15 years for storage tank water heaters.

If you have an electric tank water heater switching makes sense. Consumer Reports estimates that you can make back the initial costs in energy savings within 12-20 years. Since tank water heaters only last 10-15 years on average you’d also be replacing a water heater in that period, so technically a tankless water heater pays for itself a little sooner. However, at this time, replacing a gas-powered tank water heater would take 20 years to recoup the cost. It might end up being more of a wash, but at least you’d get the other benefits of a tankless water heater. 

Customize Each Load of Laundry

Modern-day washing machines give you a lot of options. Before tossing in your clothes, adding the detergent, and pushing “Start” you can use an array of settings to dial in the wash.

The most important setting is the water temperature. The higher you set it the more energy the washing machine will use. It’s best to wash with cold water only since it eliminates the need for firing up the water heater. 

Play around with the setting to figure out which combination is the shortest cycle for what you need. For example, in the sanitation setting, it can take two and a half hours to wash a load. But in the quick wash setting, it takes 55 minutes. The quick wash is going to require far less energy than a deep sanitation cleaning. 

One last thing you can do to reduce energy use is wash full loads of laundry. The machine is going to expend the same amount of energy so you want to fill it to capacity, even if it means mixing people’s laundry or washing towels with clothes.

Optimize Dishwasher Energy Use

Resist the urge to run the dishwasher when it isn’t fully loaded. Washing the dishes in the machine is more efficient than doing it by hand, but you don’t get the full energy-saving benefits when the dishwasher is half full. 

Beyond that there are some steps you can take to reduce energy use with every load:

  • Scrape plates clean into the garbage can, don’t wash them off in the sink with warm water. 
  • Turn the heat-dry setting off and let dishes air dry.
  • If you need a new dishwasher opt for one that’s ENERGY STAR certified.
  • Set the water temperature to 120 degrees. 
  • Use the energy savings setting if you have one.
  • Skip the rinse cycle if you scraped the plates clean.

Get Water-Saving Devices for the Bathroom

Have you installed a low-flow, high-efficiency faucet aerator and low-flow showerhead? Good, that can save around 2,500 gallons of water a year. A simple $10 aerator alone can reduce water use at the sink by as much as 60%

In the bathroom, the goal is to minimize the amount of hot water that’s used. Doing so will also reduce energy use. 

If you’re having a hard time keeping your shower time down a shower timer could be the solution. It’s installed at the pipe so that the device can measure the water usage and send an alert when you reach a certain amount. 

There are some next-level water-saving showerheads on the market as well. Delta has the H2Okinetic that uses less water, but you won’t notice because the spray is a wave pattern with larger droplets. Then there are automatic shutoff nozzles. They allow you to completely stop the water mid-shower by turning a valve. When you turn the water back on it will be the same temperature as when it stopped. 
With Verde Energy, you can feel better about the energy you use since it’s powered by renewable resources. Find out why over 250,000 customers have made the switch to green power from Verde Energy. See which green energy plans are available in your area.