Snohomish County Public Utility District No. 1

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Residential Energy Savers: Hot Water Tips

Water heating can account for 14% to 25% of the energy consumed in your home. Reducing the amount of hot water you use, and the energy used to heat it, is a cost effective way to lower your energy bills as well as help the environment. Using less water is a win-win for you and your water utility and it helps protect the health of our local waterways and fish.

Explore the tips below for free and low cost upgrades, as well as smart investments you can make to improve the efficiency of your hot water heating system and reduce your hot water usage.

No-Cost Tips

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Wash your laundry in less water

If your clothes washer has a water level-selector, use the lowest practical level for each load of clothes.

Savings: varies

Cost: FREE

Wash your laundry in cold water

By washing your clothes in cold water instead of hot, you'll save almost 90% of the energy needed to run a normal load of laundry and your clothes will come out just as clean. Switching from the warm/warm setting to the cold/cold setting on just 50% of your loads can deliver significant savings.

Savings: up to 100 kWh* per bill, about $57 per year

Cost: FREE

*For the average household with an electric water heater switching to cold water for 4 loads of laundry per week.

Turn down your water heater temperature

By turning down your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit you'll prevent scalding as well as save energy. Before you do so, be sure to check your dishwasher manual, older models may require water hotter than 120 degrees.

Savings: up to 40 kWh* per bill, about $23 per year

Cost: FREE

*For the average SnohomishCounty household with an electric water heater.

Run full loads of dishes

By running the dishwasher only when it’s full you’ll save water and the energy needed to heat the water (about 80% of that used to wash a load of dishes). Skip the pre-rinse, not required by most newer dishwashers, and use the energy saving cycle settings to save even more.

Savings: up to 20 kWh* per bill, about $11 per year

Cost: FREE

*For the average SnohomishCounty household with an electric water heater.

Take shorter showers

Reduce your shower time. Even eliminating just a couple minutes per shower can really add up since every minute you cut from your shower time saves an average of 2.5 gallons of water and the energy used to heat the water.

Savings: up to 40 kWh* per bill, about $23 per year

Cost: FREE

*For the average SnohomishCounty household of 2 people with an electric water heater that reduce their shower times by two minutes.

Low-Cost Tips

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Install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators

By using less hot water, you’ll save energy and save money on your water bill. For maximum water efficiency, select a shower head with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm. The aerator—the screw-on tip of the faucet—ultimately determines the maximum flow rate of a faucet. Choose faucet aerators – the screw-on tip of the faucet – that have flow rates of no more than 1.0 gpm. When replacing an aerator, bring the one you're replacing to the store with you to ensure a proper fit.

Savings: up to 35 kWh* per bill, about $20 per year

Cost: $10+ for a high-quality, low-flow showerheads and $2+ for faucet aerators -- even less with PUD special pricing for low-flow showerheads at participating retailers!

*For the average SnohomishCounty household with an electric water heater.

Insulate hot water pipes

Insulating your hot water pipes reduces heat loss and can raise water temperature 2ºF–4ºF hotter at the faucet or showerhead than un-insulated pipes can deliver, allowing for a lower water temperature setting. You also won't have to wait as long for hot water when you turn on a faucet or showerhead, which helps conserve water.

Insulate all accessible hot water pipes, especially within 3 feet of the water heater. It's also a good idea to insulate the cold water inlet pipes for the first 3 feet.

Savings: varies

Cost: varies

Repair leaks and dripping faucets

Repair leaking or dripping hot-water faucets to keep the energy used to heat your water from going down the drain.

Savings: varies

Cost: varies

Smart Investment Tips

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Get an ENERGY STAR Dishwasher

Is your dishwasher more than 10 years old? Replacing it with an ENERGY STAR model will save you energy and water since ENERGY-STAR-rated models use at least 41 percent less energy than the federal minimum standard for energy consumption and a third less water.

Savings: Up to 16 kWh* per bill, about $9 per year.

Cost: varies

*For the average SnohomishCounty household with an electric water heater.

Get a resource-efficient clothes washer

Replacing a washer that’s more than 10 years old with a new resource-efficient clothes washer will save you energy, water and drying time. Efficient clothes washers not only use less energy, they also use 18 gallons less water to run each load. Less water means a lower water bill and more water for salmon and the environment.

Savings: Up to 42 kWh per bill, about $24 per year.

Get a PUD mail-in rebate when you purchase an eligible efficient clothes washer. Get the details.

Cost: varies

*For the average SnohomishCounty household with an electric water heater.

Install a drain-water heat recovery system

Capture the heat from your shower drain with a drain-water heat recovery system to reduce the energy needed to heat your water. Any hot water that goes down the drain carries away energy with it. That's typically 80–90% of the energy used to heat water in a home. Drain-water heat recovery systems capture this energy to preheat cold water entering the water heater or going to other water fixtures.

Savings: Up to 100 kWh per bill, about $57 per year.

Cost: $500-1000

*For the average SnohomishCounty household with an electric water heater.

Install a solar hot water system

Electric water heaters are one of the largest energy users in most homes. Supplementing your existing system with a solar hot water (SHW) system is a wave to save on energy costs. A SHW system preheats the water that goes into your existing water heater and reduces the amount of electricity your water heater consumes by 50 to 70 percent.

Savings: Up to 400 kWh per bill, about $228 per year.

Cost: $6,500 - $14,000

*For the average SnohomishCounty household with an electric water heater.