May 2006
Money Down the Drain

Water heating accounts for 23 percent of your monthly energy bill. Unlike heating costs, water heating consumes energy year round. Whether it's summer or winter, your natural gas water heater operates continuously.

You can save money each month by conserving hot water and using less energy.

Fix Leaky Faucets

Replace the tip, or aerator, of your faucet with a more efficient one. Choose an aerator with a one gallon per minute flow rate or less.

A water leak is simply hot water down the drain that you pay for on your energy bill. Repair any leaks in your fixtures.

If your existing water heater tank leaks, consider a new water heater or have a licensed plumber fix it. Log on to www.eere.energy.gov and click on Information for Consumers for tips on selecting a new, efficient water heater.

Switch to Low-Flow Fixtures

Water pressure is a significant factor in water heating costs. Federal regulations now mandate that new showerhead and faucet flow rates not exceed 2.5 gallons per minute.

Low-flow fixtures are inexpensive. A new, low-flow fixture costs between $10 and $20. This is cheap considering your energy savings—25 to 60 percent less for water heating.

Prior to 1992, showerheads with flow rates of 5.5 gallons per minute were on the market. You might consider replacing any fixtures purchased before 1992.

You can reduce the flow rate of your faucets without replacing all the hardware. The tip of the faucet, or the aerator, sets the flow rate.

To replace an aerator, unscrew it and take it with you to a home improvement store to match the size to a newer, more efficient one. Newer faucets have rates from 0.5 to 1.5 gallons per minute.

Efficient Appliances Help

Energy efficient home appliances use less energy and save you money in the long run.

Most newer appliances are more efficient. When comparing new appliances, check the EnergyGuide labels. The label should note the amount of energy the appliance uses. Often times, more efficient units cost more. Over a year's time, the energy savings generally make up for the higher purchase cost.

You can also reduce your water heating costs with your existing appliances.


• Wash full loads only

• Select a shorter cycle

• Models with a booster heater use less energy to heat the water to 140 degrees (the recommended temperature for cleaning)

Clothes Washers—

• Wash full loads only

• Use cold water for the rinsing cycle

• Or use cold water for both cycles if you want additional energy savings

Check Your Water Heater

You can save money by lowering the temperature setting on your water heater to 120 degrees. The thermostat dial should be near the bottom of the tank on the gas valve. This setting saves energy and protects family members from scalds.

Insulating your water heater's tank can also reduce standby heat losses by 25 to 45 percent (about 4-9 percent in water heating costs). The exterior of the tank may already be insulated to help keep heat in the tank.

Touch your water heater's tank. If it's warm to the touch, it may benefit from an additional insulation jacket installed around the outside covering of the water heater.

Make sure the manufacturer of your water heater has approved the use of external insulation jackets. Don't install insulation on the top of the water heater, just the sides.

Small adjustments to your home's water usage will save you money on water heating. Call a licensed plumber for help or log on to the U.S. Department of Energy's site for more ways to reduce your water heating costs.

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