Sometimes it takes no more than a turn of a knob to save you money. The cost of heating water is the third largest energy expense in the average home (after heating and cooling) and it typically accounts for about 14% of your overall utility bill.
A simple way to save money with your water heater is to turn down the temperature. Some water heaters are set as high as 160°F, but most are usually set at about 140°F. In the summer months you should be comfortable with the setting at 120°F (in winter if it is not warm enough, you can adjust it higher until it is)For each 10°F reduction in water temperature you’re able to make, you’ll save 3% to 5% on your energy bill.
On gas water heaters, the thermostat should be visible and you merely need to turn the knob to set the temperature gauge to 120°F.
Electric water heaters, on the other hand, may have thermostats positioned behind a screw-on plate. If you aren’t mechanically handy, you may want to ask someone else to do this for you. If you want to attempt it now, shut off the electric current to the water heater before removing the plates as a safety precaution. Electric water heaters may have two thermostats to adjust (one each for the upper and lower heating elements) and it’s important that these are both adjusted to the same temperature. The typical thermostat control is adjusted by using a screwdriver.
The adjustment should take just a minute and that simple turn of a switch will save about $25 this year.
For those that have water heaters that are more than 10 years old, you’ll want to do some research into getting a new one. In all likelihood, it’ll make sense to replace it with a new, higher-efficiency model. Older water heater models have a low efficiency rate and due to technological advances, a new water heater will likely pay for itself in a short period of time.
Bonus tip: don’t forget to turn off the lights when you leave a room. You’ll shave a few pennies off your electric bill in addition to any savings you get from lowering the water heater temperature.