Energy tip #13: lower your water heater from “scalding” to merely “burning”

waterheater.gifTurn a knob and put $100 in your pocket. We often aren’t aware of how we’re using energy, and therefore not aware of what we can do to limit our consumption. This week a simple turn of the knob could help save 9-15% on your heating and cooling bill.

Next time you open up that extra hall closet or are in the basement, be sure to pay a visit to your water heater. If you have to strap on those orange floaters and swim backstrokes through pooled leaks to reach it, you probably should think about a replacement. Otherwise, have a look at the temperature settings.

Most hot water heaters are set to 150° F. According to the Iowa Energy Center, 120 F will suffice for almost all households. They also claim that for every 10° the water temperature is lowered, you’ll save 3-5% of water heating costs. Lowering from 150° to 120° will presumably lower your bill 9-15%.

(Note: math nerds may catch that you can’t add percent reductions this way, but we’ve taken the liberty for ease of calculations.)

So wading through the numbers:

Average yearly heating/cooling costs: $850
Savings 9-15%: $77-128
CO2 Savings: 1,700-2,800 lbs.

Last week 78 people said ‘Yes’ to making changes in their driving habits (Tip #12). If everyone sticks to their word and gets the receiving end of a “let’s go, buddy!” honk for it, that’s a fair piece of CO2 reduced. 345,696 pounds precisely. According to a fun little website tool I use, this is the equivalent to 53 tons of waste recyled instead of landfilled.

P.S. A few readers commented on how some cars come equiped with a running MPG gauge. Does anyone know if this type of gadget can be installed on older cars? I’d know of a few prospective purchasers.

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  1. Steves - October 4, 2006

    The only real-time mpg gauge I know of comes with a gadget called Scangauge. However, as it connects with an ODB/II it won’t work with some cars prior to either ’95 or ’90. This is all off the top of my head after I just woke up, so bear with me. Only thing is it costs about $120. I hope there’s something cheaper out there for ya’ll.
    Good luck.

  2. Biofuelsimon - October 5, 2006

    Good to hear that Americans might change their driving habits. You have got to do something because the amount of gasoline that biofuels can replace is tiny.
    I’ve done a caluctation on my blog which shows you can expect to substitute around 4% of US gasoline use with alcohol if you use all the wheat planted in the US this year. Please let me know what you think