(A monthly column by Unitil on using energy more efficiently.)
Hot water is something most of us take for granted since all it takes is a quick turn of the faucet handle. But, it can get expensive heating water.
It is estimated that heating water is responsible for up to 14 percent of our total household's energy usage.
We often get questions from homeowners on how they can reduce their hot-water usage.
The easiest and fastest way is to install aerators on all your household faucets and low-flow showerheads. By simply reducing the volume used, less hot water needs to be heated.
According to the federal website energy.gov, the average daily usage is 64 gallons of hot water.
Anyone with a teenager knows that showering actually consumes the most water ... 10 gallons for every eight minutes.
Our partner Mass Save, has some additional tips on reducing your energy usage when heating water.
* Set the water heater no higher than 120 degrees. (Note: Some dishwashers may require a higher minimum temperature setting. Check your owner's manual.)
* If you're heading out of town for an extended period of time, turn your electric water heater off entirely. Once turned back on, most models will reheat the water to the set temperature in about an hour. If you have a gas water heater, turn it down to "low" or "vacation mode."
* Upgrade your water heater to a high-efficiency model.
Most newer water heaters are well insulated.
However, if the side of your water heater feels warm near the top, you can cut heat loss by installing a water heater insulation blanket.
(First, check your owner's manual to make sure that this step won't void the manufacturer's warranty. If the warranty period has expired, this is not a problem.)
Make sure to use the appropriate type of blanket for your water heater, whether it's electric, gas, or oil.
Follow the manufacturer's installation instructions carefully.
* Wrap the hot-water pipes coming out of your water heater with insulation. Wrap those pipes nearest the heater first for greatest savings.