Hot Water Conservation

Hot water conservation

Unbeknownst To Her.. She Has A Horrific Shower Voice

Here’s a way to go green simply by dialing-back your hot water heater temperature setting a mere degree or two. All you need to do is find the dial on your hot water heater.

Home water heaters quietly consume a significant chunk of your household’s energy every hour, every day and if not set properly (needlessly high) generate unnecessary clouds of CO2 every year.   Many of those living in the U.S. have Do you really need hot water always readily available?   What’s hot water conversation mean to me?

If your water heater is 10+ years, its a prime candidate for replacement. The life expectancy of these devices is 13 years. Today’s water heaters are much more reliable and energy efficient allowing you to recover the up-front replacement cost in a few years through the monthly savings from lower utility bills. Using the calculator link below, we found that we could save $530 over the life of the hot water heater in energy bills.

Lower energy bills, smaller amount of energy consumed and less CO2pumped up in the atmosphere which equates to a smaller monthly carbon footprint.

Say for example, that you live in a single family home and you have family members who prefer long (10+ minute) hot showers. Let’s assume that your water heater is 10+ years old, maybe. The conventional large gas storage units have a capacity of 50+ gallons and keep the water always ready, just waiting for you to turn the hot water handle to quickly deliver water between 120-130 degrees – all that energy to have it always ready at your beck and call.

To help you assess the payback of replacing your water heater, use this Energy Cost Calculator to estimate how much it will cost to purchase and operate a new water heater. It will also tell you how much you might save on energy bills compared to your old water heater as well as how many pounds of carbon you’ll avoid sending up into the atmosphere.

Many households keep their hot water heater set to a really high temperature and then moderate it at the faucet by blending it with a lot cold water.  If the hot only practically scalds your hand, its way too high.  Here are a few green living tips.

Dial Back The Temperature Setting. Ouch, not so hot! Lower the temperature a degree or two. No one will notice. This not only saves energy, but it reduces the chance of scalding. A 10° F reduction in temperature saves about 13% of your water heating costs. For an average family this amounts to savings of $30/month if you heat water with gas or $60 with electricity – per MONTH – it adds up quickly.  A temperature setting of 120° F is ideal for most household uses.  One factor justifying a higher setting is your dishwasher – if it , doesn’t have a booster pre-heat setting, but most do these days, you may need to set the hot water temperature higher to ensure proper washing.

Adjust The Temperature Setting By Season.  When we’re naked in the shower in the winter, we want a slightly warmer stream of water to deliver extra warmth to the surroundings, but in the summer months, you’ll find that this same setting is way too hot.   So, in the warmer months, dial the setting down a few degrees, give it a try, and test it a second time by dialing it back again.  The key is not to have to blend it too much cold water, the more that is needed, the higher its unnecessarily set.  Green living is as easy a lower settings. Mark your calendar to turn the dial up a degree or two in October and down again in May.

Experiment – Over the course of a few weeks, experiment with the setting to get the POV of your living mates.  It will take a bit of trial and error before landing on a lower, less carbon generating happy medium for everyone involved to reach a happy green living medium.

Insulate your water heater. Wrap and reap (the energy savings). Wrapping your water heater with an insulating blanket can save $20 annually if you have gas hot water or $50 if you have electric. To see if your tank needs an insulation blanket, place your hand on the tank. If it feels warm then you need a blanket.

Insulate water lines.  If the pipes that supply hot water throughout your house are hot to the touch, then heat is being lost in the delivering process. By insulating hot water pipes you can reduce this loss. Start at the water heater and insulate all of the accessible pipe. If the pipe where cold water enters the water heater also feels warm, then you should insulate that pipe as well.

Don’t let the water run. Minimize water use while brushing teeth, shaving, and washing hands in bathroom sinks. Favor sinks that are closer to the heat source. No use running water all the way to that distant cold faucet, waiting for it to get warm enough to do some good. Once you’re done washing your hands, all that warm water sitting in the feed lines, just cools off.

Fix drippy faucets. . A faucet that leaks one drip per second can waste 400 gallons of water a year. If the water is hot, that 400 gallons will cost you about $8 if you heat water with electricity or $4 if you heat water with gas, plus the cost of the water itself.

Upgrade your showerhead. Federal standards limit new showerheads to no more than 2.5 gallons per minute, because the energy and water savings are enormous. Replacing older shower heads with low flow units could save a family of four as much as 15,000 gallons of water per year, reducing water heating costs by over $150 for electric hot water and over $60 for gas.  Delta makes a nice amplifying low flow shower head that has been test at Green Blizzard HQ.

Green living means that you have to constantly chip away at your everyday carbon footprint by finding a few simple ways to save money, reduce your carbon footprint, and maybe even extend the life of your hot water heater.

By making a few of these green adjustments starting now and layering on a few more every day, you will be on your way to saving money and most importantly reducing your every day additional build-up of your carbon footprint and a step closer to sustainable living.

Be sure to read this Green Blizzard article:  Kitchen Composting Made Easy.


About the author

Moose Mosely

Moose, (yes, that's his everyday name - at least as far as we know), writes about all sorts of green living insights. Every minute, every decision we make in our lives has some impact to our personal carbon footprint, and Moose is there to share some insights on its impact and relevance and suggests healthier alternatives.

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