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How to save money on a water heating bill

Water heating accounts for about 15 percent of a family’s utility bill, one of the biggest energy users behind heating and cooling costs.

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According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are several basic ways to cut water heating bills, such as use less hot water, turn down the thermostat on your water heater, and buy a new, more efficient water heater.

Following are some water heating tips to save energy and money:

• Install aerating, low-flow faucets and showerheads.

• Repair leaky faucets promptly; a leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period of time.

• Use cold water for most laundry loads, and always use cold water for the rinse cycle.

• Take short showers instead of baths, and reduce your time in the shower.

• Set the thermostat on your water heater to 120°F to get comfortable hot water for most uses.

• Insulate electric hot-water storage tanks, but be careful not to cover the thermostat. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

• Insulate the first 6 feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater, but keep a 6-inch clearance from venting.

• If in the market for a new dishwasher or clothes washer, consider buying an efficient, water-saving ENERGY STAR model to reduce hot water use.

• Install heat traps on the hot and cold pipes at the water heater to prevent heat loss. Most new water heaters have built-in heat traps.

• Drain a quart of water from the water tank every three months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of the heater.