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Just Plumbing | How Energy-Efficient Water Heaters Save Money and the Environment?

How Energy-Efficient Water Heaters Save Money and the Environment?

I’m pretty sure this comes as no surprise already, but you can’t fault me for asking. Did you know that water heating makes up a significant part of your energy bills? In fact, aside from space heating, no other activity consumes more energy in the home than water heating.

Hot water is a necessity for residents in cold climes. I mean, you wake up in the early hours of the morning, and you have to get ready for work or school. You head to the shower, but the icy blast jolts you, and then you realize you need to heat the water for a comfortable bath.

Moving away from this scenario, there are several others where hot water comes in handy. I know this. You know this. Still, that doesn’t ease the frown on your face when you get your monthly utility bill.

Now, you must be figuring out ways to cut down on your energy bill. The simple solution is to reduce the energy your heater consumes. This also benefits your immediate environment as well. How? Don’t worry. I’m getting to that. However, you should first be acquainted with the variety of water heating units on the market.

Types of Water Heaters Based on Design

This has to do with the structure of the water heating unit. There are two types of water heaters;

  • Tank water heater
  • Tankless water heater

The tank water heater is simply a heating unit that comes with a storage tank. As water flows into the tank, the unit heats it to a set temperature. It’s cheaper to purchase and install, but a huge downside to its usage is heat loss. Reheating the water for use involves more energy usage.

Just Plumbing | How Energy-Efficient Water Heaters Save Money and the Environment?

The tankless water heater is the opposite. It’s a heating unit without a storage tank. Its purchase and installation are considerably more expensive than the tank unit. However, an upside to tankless units is their energy efficiency.

Types of Water Heaters Based on Fuel Type

This classification is based on what powers the heating unit in the home. We have several types in this category:

  • Geothermal heater
  • Solar water heater
  • Electric water heater
  • Propane water heater
  • Natural Gas heater
  • Fuel oil-powered heater

When it comes down to fuel, the solar-powered heater is the most energy-efficient unit.

Tips to Make Your Water Heater More Energy-efficient

Now, to the part you’ve been waiting for. There are certain things you can do with your water heater to save money on energy bills. This leads to a win-win situation because the heater still serves you but at a reduced expense.

Switch to a Tankless Unit

Yeah, I get it! The tankless water heater is more expensive to buy and install. However, delayed gratification is the goal here. So, if you use a tank water unit, we recommend switching. Owing to the fact that the tankless unit is at least eight times more energy-efficient than the storage tank heater, you’ll save a significant sum of money from your reduced energy bills in a year.

Just Plumbing | How Energy-Efficient Water Heaters Save Money and the Environment?

Reconfigure your Thermostat

As you already know, the thermostat is the dial on your heating unit that regulates the temperature that the equipment heats your water too. Most times, it comes preset at 140°C when you buy it. We recommend reconfiguring the dial to a lower temperature. As you go 10 degrees lower, that’s a 3-5% reduction in your energy bill.

In essence, the lower it is, the less energy the water heater will use, and vice versa. I’m sure you’ve already figured out what to do. By lowering your thermostat, you’ll effectively reduce the amount of energy spent on water heating.

I’m sure there are some questions on your mind. One of them is probably “What’s the recommended temperature?” Anything between 100°C-120°C is ideal. If your heating unit’s thermostat doesn’t have a numbered display, set the dial between the “low and “medium” mark. On the other hand, some thermostats have just two indicators on their display – top and bottom. For this type, simply keep the dial between both, but with a little tilt to the bottom section.

Reduce Hot Water Usage

This is the easiest way to cut down on your energy bill. It’s a no-brainer. The less hot water you use, the less energy the water heating unit will use. I’ll start with bathing to give you a scenario. Did you know that if everyone in a family of four uses the shower for five minutes every day, that’s 700 gallons of water going down the drain on a weekly basis?

You said what’s on my mind – that’s a lot of water. In fact, this volume of wasted water is equivalent to one person’s drinking water supply for three weeks.

A significant reason this amount of water is wasted in the shower is the type of shower heads that are common in households. I’m referring to the high-flow shower heads. To reduce hot water use, use low-flow shower heads. This will consequently lead to less water wastage.

Another way to reduce hot water usage is to replace your current faucet aerators with low-flow versions. This will reduce your use of heated water by 25-60%. Not bad, huh? Let me even give you an even more mind-numbing statistic. Using my earlier instance, if a family of four sticks to using low-flow faucets and fixtures, they will save roughly 14,000 gallons of water annually. This is great for the environment.

I’ll give you a third hack – use cold water for more chores. Let’s take your laundry, for instance. A lot of people tend to use hot water to wash their clothes, which isn’t necessary. Switch to cold water and watch your hot water consumption.

Want a fourth hack? A lot of modern dishwashers are capable of cleaning a dirty dish. What this means is that you no longer have to do pre-washing before inserting the dishes into the machine. That’s just using more water. Instead, remove every remnant of your meal and shove it into the bin. Put these plates into your dishwasher and configure it to “economy.”

Insulate your Hot Water Tank

Doing this makes your storage tank more energy-efficient because it will reduce heat loss by 25-45%. This is equivalent to 4-9% shedding of your water heating costs. Alright, enough with the numbers. Let’s be more practical. Purchase an insulating blanket and use it to cover your tank. This will retain the heat, and the longer your water stays warm, the less energy you’ll use to reheat it.

A note of caution, though. I advise you to check with your manufacturer first before insulating your tank, especially if it’s a recent model. The reason is the concert can get in the way of essential heater components and could result in a hazard.

Furthermore, if you’re using an electric water heater, don’t cover the thermostat with an insulating blanket. The same goes for the exhaust or air inlet for a gas-powered heater.

Insulate your Hot Water Pipes

Why? You may ask. Well, insulated hot water pipes reduce heat loss during the period the water travels from the heater to its destination. Getting a pipe insulator won’t cost you much, and it’s a job you can handle yourself.

Drain the Tank

I know what you’re thinking. How does this make my water heater more energy-efficient? Good question. Over time, your storage tank will accumulate sediments. The more the build-up, the less efficient your heater will be. Those sediments in the tank will increase heat loss, and the water stays warm for a shorter period. So you’ll have to reheat the water more often. To stop this, drain the tank at periodic intervals (let’s say every three months). This will make your heating unit more efficient.

How Do I Know When to Replace My Water Heater?

There are certain signs that will indicate that your heating unit is due for a change. You may have even noticed some of these signs, but it didn’t occur to you. The first thing to know about a water heater replacement is the lifespan of the unit. On average, a water heater lasts for about ten years.

So, if your water heater has lasted for long or close to that and you notice the following signs, it’s time to splurge the cash on a replacement, pal.

Watch out for:

  • The age of your heating unit (the older it gets, the less efficient it becomes)
  • Very frequent repairs (you might as well replace it. The cost of repairs may even be more than the cost of a replacement in the long run)
  • The water from it becomes reddish
  • Frequent heat loss despite taking measures to combat it
  • Corrosion in the tank

If you notice at least two of the following after several years of using your water heating unit, it’s a clear sign that you should replace your water heater.

The Cost of Acquiring a Water Heater

This depends on the type of water heater you’re using. A gas-powered tank water heater costs between $400 and $800, while its tankless counterpart ranges between $900 and $1500. An electric tank water heater unit costs between $800 and $1500.


I know you’ll be considering yourself as some sort of expert already. Lol. You’ve discovered a lot. Anyways, I’d like to leave you with a few more points. It’s not advisable to purchase any water heater that appeals to you.

There are certain things to consider – your budget, the size of your home (this will determine the capacity of the heating unit), its energy efficiency (again, I recommend tankless), and the fuel type (solar is the best option, but you can also go for other types that are energy-efficient).