Hot Showers Without Worrying About That Energy Bill: A Simple DIY You Should Try
Give yourself the gift of cheaper, warmer water all year long.
Andrew BlokEditor I
Andrew Blok has been an editor at CNET covering HVAC and home energy, with a focus on solar, since October 2021. As an environmental journalist, he navigates the changing energy landscape to help people make smart energy decisions. He's a graduate of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State and has written for several publications in the Great Lakes region, including Great Lakes Now and Environmental Health News, since 2019. You can find him in western Michigan watching birds.
ExpertiseSolar providers and portable solar power; coffee makers, grinders and productsCredentials
Winter's here and nothing feels better at the end of a blisteringly cold day than a nice shower with hot, hot water. But if the prospect of a hot shower has you thinking about the high cost, there's a simple do-it-yourself project that can save you some money in the long run and, possibly, make your shower a little warmer.
Water heaters are designed to minimize heat loss. The familiar storage water heater features a large insulated tank that keeps hot water warm while it's waiting to be used. Tankless water heaters reduce heat loss by eliminating the storage aspect altogether, heating water only when it's needed. (Find out the difference between storage and tankless water heaters here.)
But once water has entered the pipes heading to your faucet, shower or dishwasher, it starts to cool down. Depending on the distance between where your water is heated and where it's actually used, insulating pipes can keep water 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than if it were moving through uninsulated pipes, the EPA says.
While 4 degrees Fahrenheit may not seem worth the fuss, it may allow you to lower the temperature of your water heater. Setting your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit instead of the higher (and commonly default) 140 degrees can reduce your energy costs by 4% to 22%. That could be hundreds of dollars.
Keeping water in pipes warm means you'll also get hot water quicker. Instead of waiting for hot water to arrive at your shower from your hot water heater, warmer water will be waiting in the pipes. Overall, you should use less water, saving you a bit of money.