Running your home’s air conditioner or heater is typically your biggest energy expense. Guess what comes in second? Your unassuming, not-often-thought-about water heater. It can account for up to 20 percent of your energy bill – ouch, that burns!

Instead of watching money literally go down the drain, our energy experts recommend that you fix leaks, install low-flow fixtures, insulate accessible hot water lines, and purchase an ENERGY STAR-certified dishwasher and clothes washer. They also suggest these inexpensive techniques:

No-cost ways to save

  • Shower Power – Showers use a lot less water than baths, even less if you have a low-flow showerhead. A water-saving showerhead rated for 2 gallons per minute uses 20 gallons during a 10-minute shower. Compare that to the 70 gallons needed to fill some bathtubs.
  • Dirty Laundry – Using warm water instead of hot can cut a load’s energy use in half, according to the Department of Energy, and using cool water will save even more.
  • Don’t Repeat the Rinse – Avoid rinsing your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. When you do that, you’re using hot water twice – in the sink and in the dishwasher.
  • Water Heater Wisdom – Lower the maximum temperature of your water heater from 140 degrees to 120 degrees. And once a year, drain and flush the water heater to remove sediment that accumulates on the bottom of the tank. Built-up sediment can reduce the heating efficiency of your water heater.
  • Taking a Trip? Consider turning the tank’s temperature down to the lowest possible setting or turn the water heater off altogether.

Low-cost ways to save

  • No Drips Allowed – According to the Department of Energy, one drip per second wastes more than 1,600 gallons of water per year. That could easily justify the cost of hiring a plumber if needed.
  • Wrap it Up – If your water heater is more than 10 years old, consider adding an insulated cover to help retain heat inside the tank.

Building a new home or in the market for a new water heater? Consider a hybrid electric water heater, sometimes referred to as a heat pump water heater. They capture heat from the surrounding air and transfer it to the storage tank to heat the water, saving you up to 70 percent off water heating costs.

For additional tips and information on our money-back rebates, visit You can also complete an Online Energy Audit that lets you set up helpful alerts, monitor usage and tap into informative videos.