5 Energy-hungry Appliances


Water Heater

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating water is responsible for 12 percent of U.S. home energy use. We use the water heater in so many applications: showers, cleaning dishes, cleaning clothes -- it's a pretty ubiquitous part of our daily routine. And at an average consumption of 400 kWh per month, it's also a power-intensive one.

Of course, the actual amount of energy you spend on hot water depends on a lot of factors, including the type (standard, solar, tankless) and size of your water heater, what temperature it's set at, how long you shower for and whether you wash your clothes in cold or hot water. But no matter what model you have and what your hot-water habits are, you can do a few things to help your water heater perform more efficiently:

  • Check the thermostat. You probably don't need your water hotter than 120 degrees F (50 degrees C).
  • Insulate the hot-water storage tank and first 6 feet (1.8 meters) of pipes connected to the tank, so you're not losing heat during storage and transport.
  • Remove a quart of water every three months to limit sediment buildup that can lower the unit's efficiency.
  • Install a drain-water heat recovery system to capture the energy in used water.
  • Take shorter showers; wash clothes in cold or cool water; turn off the "water heat" feature on the dishwasher.
  • [source: DOE]

Next on the list: cold comfort, warm globe.