Tips to Maximize Water Heater Efficiency

In Heating & Cooling 101 by Allan W2 Comments

In the continual and seemingly never ending fight to save money on your energy bills, one sore area you may be currently looking at is your hot water heater. The conventional style of water heater is what most of us have in our homes and when water heating is the 2nd largest energy expense (around 18% of your utility bill) it starts to draw some attention. Aside from replacing it with a more modern system, there are luckily some tips to help you make the most of your hot water heater.


That water storage tank works constantly to keep water hot and ready whenever you want it. But as the water sits, it naturally cools and when the water cools, the burner or heating element kicks on to warm it up again, this cycle continues constantly in your home.

Average Hot Water Usage



Gallons per Use

Clothes washer




Automatic dishwasher


Kitchen faucet flow

2 per minute

Bathroom faucet flow

2 per minute

Total daily average


Water Heating Tips


  • Install aerating, low-flow faucets and shower head: Installing faucet aerators can reduce the water use at a faucet by as much as 60 percent. A flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute is standard for a faucet aerator (compared to as much as 5 or 6 gallons per minute for a faucet without an aerator), but faucet aerators with a flow of as little as .5 gallons per minute are available.


  • Simply by installing low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators ($10 to $20 each), you’ll cut your hot water consumption by 25% to 60%. Plus, you’ll save on your water bill.


  • Repair leaky faucets promptly; a leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period of time.



  • Set the thermostat on your water heater to 120°F to get comfortable hot water for most uses. For every 10 degrees you turn it down, you’ll save 3% to 5% on your bill. Most water heaters come preset at 140 degrees.


  • Insulate the first 6 feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater.By insulating your hot water pipes, water will arrive at the faucet 2 to 4 degrees warmer, which means you won’t have to wait as long for it to heat up, thus saving energy, water, and money.


  • Drain a quart of water from your water tank every 3 months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater. Follow the manufacturer’s directions.


  • Simply take shorter showers! A family of four showering five minutes a day uses 700 gallons of water each week That translates to a three-year supply of drinking water for one person!


  • Insulate your electric hot-water storage tank but be careful not to cover the thermostat. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.


  • Insulate your natural gas or oil hot-water storage tank but be careful not to cover the water heater’s top, bottom, thermostat, or burner compartment. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations; when in doubt, get professional help.



Some of these tips are not only great for saving on energy bills, but also save on water and reduce your environmental impact. While these tips are great for current conventional systems, when the time comes to buy a new water heater, or practically any new appliance nowadays, ensure that it is an ENERGY STAR energy efficient appliance. While it may cost more initially than a standard water heater, the energy savings will continue during the lifetime of the appliance and save you money in the long run.


  1. Logan Murphy

    Thanks for the tips on insulating our hot water unit. We want to make it as efficient as possible. Mainly so we can save on our water bill. We will have to look at insulation options. Thanks for the tips!

  2. Dean

    Excellent tips. Following these suggestions will have you well on your way to maximizing your heater’s efficiency and output. Thanks a ton for sharing!

Leave a Comment