Homeowners have seen the portion of their energy bills dedicated to water heating increase steadily over the past few decades. According to data collected by the U.S. Department of Energy, water heating accounted for 14 percent of consumer energy costs in 1978. By 2005, 20 percent of energy bills were dedicated to heating water for bathroom and kitchens. Notably, this trend also occurred despite the fact that insulation strategies have improved.
"With cooler weather on the way, it makes sense to target water heating."
Sustainably minded homeowners can make a big impact on their long term energy expenses by targeting water heating in their household retrofits or when making plans for new home construction. Investing in high-performance appliances like tankless water heaters can help to eliminate energy waste from water heating in the home in multiple ways. With cooler weather on the way, it makes sense to target this growing expense before water heating bills grow even more costly.
Reduce household hot water demand whenever possible
Homeowners can start reducing energy waste at home before making a large investment by making targeted changes to when and how they use hot water. For example, Energy.gov recommended that residents interested in saving hot water can wash most loads with cold water and noted that cold water should always be used for rinsing. Homeowners with dishwashers can likewise shorten cycle times to reduce the amount of hot water used on a daily basis. Some of these adjustments take some getting used to, but a visible difference on your water bill will make the changes worth the effort.
There are plenty of strategies for reducing hot water waste in bathrooms as well. For instance, filling a hot bath consumes much more hot water than a quick shower. Families can also shorten their bathing times to keep their hot water bills from growing out of control. At a certain point, however, consumers must address the inefficiencies in their system if they want to see a significant change to their water heating bills. Shorter showers can only do so much in the face of a malfunctioning water heater.
Replace aging, corroding appliances with tankless models
Targeting the site of hot water generation is the most direct way to address and solve hot water waste. Standard water heaters are only designed to run properly for a decade, and many begin to experience rampant efficiency problems years earlier as a result of insufficient maintenance and internal corrosion. A small leak, growing amounts of material deposits or malfunctioning heating elements could all result in higher heating bills, and often the maximum efficiency of the water heater can never be regained once the initial damage occurs. At this point, it makes more sense to find a suitable replacement.
By investing in a tankless water heater, homeowners can eliminate the source of many of the largest sources of waste in the water heating process. Standard models waste fuel by heating dozens of gallons of water around the clock. Alternatively, tankless models heat instantly and on demand, providing hot water only when needed by residents at a point of use. By combining instant heating with demand-reducing strategies to maximize the water heater's ROI, homeowners can make an even deeper cut into their water bill.
"Tankless models heat instantly and on demand."
Consider distributed generation for new home construction
Homeowners planning a new home have even more opportunities to save hot water by going tankless. The compact appliances can be installed anywhere, even directly at points of use. By hooking up tankless hot water heaters closer to the bathroom or kitchen, the heat loss that occurs as hot water travels from heater to faucet can be significantly reduced. This building strategy removes the need for separate hot water plumbing, reducing the total materials and labor necessary to complete the project.
Going tankless early on also allows homeowners to take advantage of the cost-saving benefits of high-performance electric model from the start of their home's lifecycle. Tankless water heaters are 99 percent thermal-efficient and designed to last for twenty years, so green-savvy families interested in building the most sustainable home possible should definitely consider on-demand water heating as an alternative to standard installations.