Your water heater is the second-largest energy user in your home. Here are some things you can do to help it run more efficiently:
• Add energy-efficient shower heads and faucet aerators. They reduce the amount of water released from a tap by up to 50 percent, with almost no noticeable difference in pressure.
• Insulate your water heater and set the water temperature at 120@F (49@C). Some dishwashers require the temperature to be slightly higher. Check with the manufacturer or consult your owners manual for your specific model. Caution: Turn the power off at the circuit breaker before changing the temperature on a water heater!
• Fix leaky faucets. A dripping faucet can waste 6 to 10 gallons (23-38 liters) of water a day. Repairs can be as simple and inexpensive as replacing a worn-out washer.
• Insulate hot and cold water pipes. If pipes are exposed beneath your home or in an unheated garage, insulate them with special pipe-insulating foam. This will help keep cold water pipes from freezing and hot water pipes hot.
• Take a shower instead of a bath. The average bath uses twice as much hot water as a 5-minute shower.
• Turn off faucets immediately after use. We all tend to leave the faucet running while we wash dishes or shave. When shaving or washing, fill the sink half-way instead of running the water. Turning on the faucet only when necessary can save thousands of gallons of water a year, not to mention the energy needed to heat it.
• Once or twice a year, drain a bucket of water from the water heater to remove sediment that can reduce the efficiency of the unit.