Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Week 44: You're in Hot Water!


Week 44:

You're in Hot Water!

I don’t know about you, but, when I feel the need for some extra comfort, I head to the bath tub. I know I’m not alone. There isn’t much that a good soak can’t wash away. If you’re feeling blue, or frustrated, or just exhausted, a few minutes with some bubbles, soothing music and a good book can make you a new person. 

But, how hot is too hot? When it comes to water, you may find the numbers surprising. Most households use about 170L of water per day. That’s a heck of a lot of water! On top of that, most people’s hot water tanks are set much too high. If you can’t run your hand under the water without hurting, it’s too hot. Experts recommend 120F to prevent injury, but, 112F is hot enough to kill bacteria, and eliminate dirt. Your water should feel pleasantly warm, not hot.

Your hot water tank runs between 3 and 5 hours per day. Newer models aren’t quite as inefficient, but you get the picture. You’re heating a lot of water, and it just waits around until it’s needed. Not the most economical approach.

Water heating makes up about 20-25% of the typical natural gas use in a gas heated house in our type of climate. Lowering the temperature setting can cut your overall natural gas use by 5-6%. On a regular heating bill, that can be $20 or so a month. Not bad!

Challenge 44: Turn down your hot water tank.

The default setting on most water heaters is 60C or 140F, but the best hot water temperature is 49C or 120F – this will save you about 25% of your hot water heating costs. 

There are other ways you can reduce your energy use when it comes to hot water. The easiest way is to use less (that’s a no-brainer). But, here’s a list of things you might try if you haven’t already:
  • Have shorter showers. 
  • Use low-flow faucets. 
  • Don’t let the water run while you’re doing something else (like while brushing your teeth, or doing the dishes). 
  • Don’t pre-rinse your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher. 
  • Wash only full loads, and choose shorter cycles. 
  • Use cold water for washing your laundry. 
  • Insulate and wrap your hot water tank.
  • If your water heater is older, consider buying a new, higher efficiency one. Old ones not only are less efficient, they are often bogged down by sediment.
  • Invest in an on-demand hot water heater.
So turn down the heat on your energy bill. You won’t really notice a difference in your day to day living, but you will notice a difference on your monthly bill, and Mother Earth will thank you for it.

Yours in Sustainability,
Sherri Jackson & Laurel Hood

52 Weeks of Climate Action was created by Sherri Jackson and Laurel Hood. Sherri is a writer, speaker and musician. She is the candidate of record and communications coordinator for the Simcoe-Grey Greens. Laurel Hood, is a retired secondary teacher, transportation lead for the Collingwood Climate Action Team, and volunteer coordinator for the Simcoe-Grey Greens. Visit our blog or sign up at

1 comment:

  1. Turning down the temperature setting of a storage tank water heater from 140F to 120F will save some energy, but nowhere near the 25% stated (except maybe in the case where absolutely no hot water is actually ever used), and nowhere near $20/month in any typical single home situation. Our own total monthly cost for gas consumed in the summer (for water heating and cooking, when the furnace does not run) is about $35. There is no way simply turning the water heater temp down 20F could/would cut that bill by over half. Turning down the temperature reduces "standby loss" - the heat lost by the water sitting in the tank (which is insulated), whether or not hot water is being used. The savings will have little relation to how much hot water is used. On a typical electric water heater, the monthly savings from a 20F tank temp reduction would more likely be in the range of 25 kWh. For a gas water heater, it would more likely be in the range of 5 Cubic metres.


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