Water heater

Water heater

Water heating accounts for roughly 15-25 percent of energy used in American homes,[1] making it the third largest source of residential energy consumption after HVAC and kitchen appliances.[2] Much of the energy expended on water heating in the home is used simply to maintain the heat level of water in conventional heaters while they are on “standby.”[1]

Simple steps vs. replacement

As far as water heaters are concerned, the most dramatic way to reduce most households' carbon footprint is to replace a conventional water heater with an innovative, more energy-efficient unit.[3] But there are a number of inexpensive ways for consumers to cut the emissions of their existing water heater without installing a new fixture. [4]

Simple steps

Every 10 percent reduction in water temperature results in a 3 to 5 percent reduction in energy costs.[5] Most conventional water heaters are set at a default temperature of 140°F. By simply dialing down the water heater thermostat to 120 degrees, families can cut carbon emissions by an average of 187 pounds per year.[6] For showers, 120 degrees is sufficient and the needs of most households. Turning off a water heater altogether during an extended trip is another way to cut carbon emissions and save money in the process.

There are also a number of relatively inexpensive additions that can cut back on the energy a water heater consumes. These include heat traps—$15-30 additions that prevent hot water from flowing out of the tank, hot water insulation blankets (also known as jackets), and water pipe insulation.[7] All of these add-ons usually pay for themselves in cost-savings within the first year.[8]

Innovative technologies

Most houses continue to use conventional water heaters with 40-80 gallon tanks kept at 120-140 degrees. Maintaining these high temperatures even as heat is constantly escaping creates “standby” energy losses 24 hours a day. More efficient models, like solar thermal heaters and tankless heaters are more expensive to install but typically last longer and reduce energy costs.[9]

Tax Incentives

In the US, the purchase of an energy efficient dryer may qualify you for tax breaks at the federal, state, or local levels. For detailed information, see these resources:

External links