When it comes to calculating how much energy NJ residents waste to heat water, water heater efficiency tells only a small part of the story. Most of us waste water while we’re waiting for hot water to reach a sink or shower. A large percentage of the hot water produced by most water heaters never reaches the faucet.
What?! I Used Cold Water but Paid for HOT?
Because many faucets and fixtures are a long way from the water heater, it can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes for hot water to reach a distant faucet. For example, when you turn on the hot tap to wash your hands, cold water first flows from the pipe and just before the hot water is about to reach the your chilly fingers, you shut it off because you’re done. Now all of the hot water in the pipe begins to cool off. You only used cold water but you paid for hot water. Some research has shown that about 20% of total hot water use in single-family residences seems to be wasted.
What’s Taking it So Long?
The factors that affect the amount of wasted hot water include:
- The design of the house. Stretched-out single-story homes are likely to have more waste than compact two-story homes. The further the distance the water has to flow, the longer it will take to get there.
- Location of the water heater. If the water heater is in a central location like a basement, it doesn’t have to travel as far as those located at the far end of a house, like a garage.
- Number of faucets. Homes with many bathrooms and fixtures in the house waste more water than homes with few fixtures.
- Diameter of the piping. The smaller the diameter, the faster hot water will reach the tap because they hold less water. When you’re waiting for hot water, all the cooled-off water sitting in the pipe has to flow out before hot water from the water heater reaches the faucet. Small diameter pipes are is preferable to large diameter pipes.
- Flow rate. Faucet and shower head flow rates affect the wait for hot water because it determines how quickly the cool water (that’s just sitting in the pipes) will empty out. Water-conserving bathroom faucets will require a lot longer for hot water to get to your shower. Unfortunately, this long wait comes with a huge amount of (cold) water wasted down the drain.
So, what can I do?
Here are a few tips to reduce the amount of energy used by hot water heaters in New Jersey:
- Wash your clothes with cold water. Heating water to do laundry is one of the largest users of energy in a typical home. Energy Star states that almost 90% of the energy consumed by a washing machine goes to heating water. Switching from hot or warm water to cold water washing saves that energy.
- Use your dishwasher efficiently. Wash only full loads and choose shorter wash cycles.
- Change your habits. If it takes you 1.5 minutes to wash your hands, yet it takes 2 minutes for the hot water to reach your bathroom, it would make more sense to turn on the cold-water tap instead of the hot-water tap.
- Lower the temperature on your water heater to 120°F; for every 10ºF reduction in temperature, you can save from 3%–5% on your water heating costs.
- Insulate hot water pipes.
- Call Lawes to inspect your hot water heater for any necessary repairs.
Lawes = Comfort with Confidence
Wintertime in New Jersey can get wretchedly cold, but with our reliable service you don’t have to have cold feet in the shower. Lawes Heating and Cooling Company NJ, will provide comfort with confidence so you and your family can be pleasantly warm even on the most frigid days of the season…and take warm showers, too. We extend service and repairs on all brands and models of residential oil or gas-fired heating equipment: furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters, and indirect hot water heaters. Need us to make a visit to your NJ home to address your oil heater or hot water heater? Request a service appointment today.