10 Ways to Cut Your Hot Water Costs (While Staying Clean & Comfortable) – AEF | Australian Energy Foundation

10 Ways to Cut Your Hot Water Costs (While Staying Clean & Comfortable)

In Australia, hot water accounts for approximately 25% of all annual home energy use.

So whether you’ve just bought a new hot water system or want to lower your energy bills using your current one, these hot water tips will help your family save money without having to sacrifice cleanliness and convenience.

And if you’re planning to get a new hot water system soon, definitely put these habits into practice before sizing your next system. Lowering hot water use now may help you realize that a smaller, less expensive heater will work beautifully for your household.

These tips work for both conventional & energy-efficient systems:

1. Take Showers Instead of Baths

While taking an occasional bath is quite relaxing, showering is most efficient for daily use. 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 account for 60% of a household’s water bill. So upgrading to a more efficient showerhead (and taking shorter showers) will cut water bills most.To find a money-saving showerhead, look for one with a WELS rating or 3 or above. As the below table shows, a 3-star showerhead uses about 40% less water per minute than a typical 1-star showerhead (imagine the savings for a 4-person family over a month!)

Length of shower (minutes)
1 star rated showerhead42 litres84 litres105 litres158 litres
2 star rated showerhead34 litres67 litres84 litres126 litres
3 star rated showerhead25 litres50 litres63 litres95 litres

Data sourced from Ausgrid’s Hot Water Guide

3. Use a Shower Timer to Take Shorter Showers

Want to cut your shower costs in half? Halve your shower time.

It’s true — the most cost-efficient shower is 4 minutes long (and here are some fun ideas to get your family on board.)

If you’re not up for that drastic a change yet, aim for just two minutes shorter than your current shower. You’ll hardly notice, and will still save 20+ litres per shower — over 400 litres per month, per person.

You can also halve your shower costs by combining an efficient showerhead with slightly shorter showers. For example, a 10-minute shower with a typical showerhead will use 105 litres, while an 8-minute shower with a 3-star showerhead will use only 50.

That way, you can enjoy a relaxing shower without worrying about its cost.

4. Wash Laundry in Cold Water

Many clothes require cold washes anyway. Throw in the rest of your laundry with them, and save 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 60C for Storage

Keeping your stored hot water at a moderate temperature will use less energy than making it remain piping hot.

Just remember that to protect your hot water from Legionella, never lower the temperature to below 60 degrees.

7. Let Your Hot Water Take a Holiday When You Do

If you won’t use 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. And as aforesaid, 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 compromise their efficiency, and major issues result in costly repairs that preventative maintenance could have averted.

Depending on its type, your hot water system should be serviced according to the user manual.

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 it, choose a high-efficiency hot water heat pump or solar hot water model. It will provide the same heating with at least 60% less energy — possibly more.

This enables the high-efficiency system to pay for itself, then save you an additional $3,000 – $6,000 over its 15-year lifetime.

10. Assess & Optimize 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 8 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!

Want to learn more about efficient hot water? Check out our new hot water heat pump guide. 

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