In Australia, water heating accounts for approximately 25% of all home energy use. That’s a big chunk of your energy bill.
Whether you’re in the market for a new hot water system or just looking for ways to cut costs and be more sustainable, these ten tips will help your household save money on hot water without sacrificing cleanliness and convenience.
If you’re planning on getting a new hot water system soon, putting these habits into practice now can help you ensure you get the right size system for your household.
1. Take showers instead of baths
While taking an occasional bath can be relaxing, showering is most efficient for daily cleansing. An 8-10 minute shower uses 75-150 litres less than the average bath.
2. Upgrade to a water-efficient showerhead
On average, showering and bathing accounts for 60% of a household’s water bill, so upgrading to a more efficient showerhead can have a big impact. To find a money-saving showerhead, look for one with a WELS rating of 3 or above. According to Ausgrid, a 3-star showerhead uses about 40% less water per minute than a typical 1-star showerhead.
3. Use a shower timer to take shorter showers
Want to cut your shower costs in half? Halve your shower time.
If you’re not ready for such a drastic change, aim for just two minutes shorter than your current shower. You’ll hardly notice and will save 20+ litres per shower — over 400 litres per month, per person.
You can also lower your shower costs by combining an efficient showerhead with slightly shorter showers. A 10-minute shower with a 1-star showerhead will use 105 litres, while an 8-minute shower with a 3-star showerhead will use only 50, according to Ausgrid’s hot water guide.
4. Wash your laundry in cold water
Many clothes require cold washes anyway. Throw in the rest of your laundry and save up to 80% of the energy needed to run a typical warm water cycle.
5. Insulate hot water pipes
The less heat escaping from your hot water pipes, the less unused heat you’ll have to pay for. Insulate them with pipe lagging, especially the two metres closest to your water heater.
6. Set your hot water thermostat to 60°C for storage
Keeping your stored hot water at a moderate temperature will use less energy than keeping it piping hot. Just remember that to protect your hot water from Legionella, you should never lower the temperature to below 60 degrees.
7. Let your hot water take a holiday when you do
If you won’t be using your hot water for a few weeks, don’t pay to keep it hot. Turn your hot water unit off when you take a holiday; some systems even have a built-in ‘vacation’ setting.
Just remember that some off-peak systems will need to reheat overnight when you return. Protect your household from Legionella by heating water up to 60°C for at least half an hour before anyone uses it.
8. Have your hot water system serviced regularly
Don’t let regular service checks slide off the radar. Even minor issues in hot water systems can compromise their efficiency, and major issues can result in costly repairs that preventative maintenance could have averted. Refer to your user manual to determine how your hot water system should be serviced.
9. Upgrade to a high-efficiency system
If your hot water system is over 10 years old, it may be nearing the end of its useful life. We recommend that you begin to get quotes for efficient systems now, so that by the time it needs to be upgraded, you’ll be well prepared.
When it’s time to replace your hot water system, choose a high-efficiency hot water heat pump or solar hot water model. These systems are cheap to run and low in greenhouse gas emissions compared to other electric and gas systems, and they can be powered by renewable solar energy if you have rooftop solar panels installed.
10. Assess and optimise your hot water use before sizing a new system
There’s no point in paying for a larger, more costly hot water system if you don’t need it. Ensure that your new unit is the right size for your household by putting the first eight tips into practice first.
After you’ve reduced your home’s hot water consumption, you may find that your household needs a smaller and less expensive model than you originally thought. If you have any questions on what is best for your household, make sure you talk to at least three professionals.