We love how compact and convenient tankless water heaters are. Still, the key reason most people buy them is the fact that they save substantial amounts of energy over traditional tank models. Conserving energy is a big passion of ours. It’s the right thing to do for the environment, and it’s also a commonsense thing to do for your pocketbook.
Here, we’ve put together a list of the simplest things you can do to substantially reduce your home energy usage. Most of them are things you can do yourself without any help from professionals. And even the few that require professional assistance aren’t any more effort than swapping out an appliance.
So, read it and reap–the savings, that is!
Switch to LED lightbulbs
Nobody should be using incandescent lightbulbs in the 21st century. They’re absurdly inefficient, and they have pathetically short lifespans. Still, it was hard for many of us to love CFL (compact fluorescent) bulbs. They’re so cold and uninviting, right?
LED bulbs are the latest and greatest in home lighting. Not only do they use even less energy than CFL’s (by a long shot, too!), but you can get them in colors that mimic your beloved old incandescents.
All you have to do is pick up some bulbs and screw them in. No electrician required! This is by far the cheapest upgrade you can make at home. LED bulbs are subsidized in many locations, making them very cheap. You can often get rebates or coupons from your electric utility, too!
Use a low-flow shower head
Heating water is a massive chunk of your energy bill (anywhere from 20-40%). Doing whatever you can to cut back on your hot water usage will therefore knock a lot off your bills!
The simplest, most cost-effective thing to do is switch to a low-flow shower head. If you’re using something old, you might be using as much as 5 gallons per minute when you shower. That’s incredibly wasteful. By federal law, shower heads today must use no more than 2.5 GPM.
We recommend buying a Watersense-certified model. Those use no more than 2.0 GPM. That’s actually more than enough, since many of today’s low-flow options are well enough designed that you don’t notice any drop in performance when you’re using them. And you’ll save 20% of your hot water usage over a standard model today.
We suggest High Sierra shower heads. They’re simple and effective, two words we cherish here at Tankless Reviews! We like them because they’re all-metal, with no crappy plastic components at all. They feel powerful, save tons of water, and last forever.
Upgrade your washing machine to an Energy Star front-loader
Top-loading washers are as silly as tank water heaters, in our view. They use a ridiculous amount of water (30 gallons, on some models!). Even the most recent, high-efficiency top-loaders use 5 gallons more per cycle than the average front-loader. They’re bulkier, take more electricity to operate, and don’t clean as well as front-loaders today. Do yourself a favor and upgrade! You’ll save 30% of the hot water on your heated cycles.
Use cold water wash cycles
Hot water is rarely necessary when you do a load of laundry. Your detergent is the most important ingredient in an effective cycle, and will do the majority of the cleaning and disinfecting. Hot water only needs to be used with whites washes. So, switch to cold/tap temperature options for your color washes. You can cut out that hot water usage entirely!
Don’t use your dryer so much
To begin with, we don’t go so far as to say you should ditch your dryer. Most of us still want one, even if we’re energy conscious. Drying sheets and blankets on racks isn’t feasible for most of us. Dryers are also essential for killing dust mites fleas and bed bugs, should you run into those.
With that said, most of us also use our dryers far more than we really need to. Keep on drying your bedding and linens every week, but hang-dry your clothing! It’s easy with a good rack (IKEA make the best ones, in our experience), and it’ll save a heck of a lot of energy.
Use power strips
Many people aren’t aware of this, but all your appliances draw power when they’re plugged in, regardless of whether you’re using them. Sure, they don’t use nearly as much, but this “phantom” power drain adds up.
Our solution: power strips!
Chances are you already use surge protector strips for your home theatre equipment and computer area. Grab a few more and outfit the rest of your appliance clusters. Usually, the kitchen could do with one for countertop appliances, and the bedroom is another good place to install these.
Once you’ve got most or all of your power draws hooked up to these, start getting in the habit of switching off the strips at night and when you’re not using those appliances/devices. It’s a simple, convenient way to stop wasting electricity.
Buy Energy Star
Energy Star is an EPA program which certifies products which use less energy than the typical model in their category. You can find Energy Star-certified products in any number of categories, from dishwashers to laptops. Looking for certified models is an easy way to make sure that any new stuff you buy won’t be wasting energy.
Turn down your water heater
In most cases, this is something you can do on your own. Some folks might need to have a plumber help out. Still, it’s a simple fix that can save up to 22% per year. Manufacturers usually leave heat set to 140 degrees, but that’s hotter than anyone actually needs. In fact, it’ll scald you at that temperature. You can make your house significantly safer and save lots of energy by setting the thermostat to 120 degrees F.
There’s an easy tutorial from the Energy Department:
Use a smart thermostat
A lot of people waste boatloads of energy heating or cooling their homes when they’re not even around to enjoy them! One simple approach is to remember to turn things down each day when you leave, but we prefer to use smart thermostats.
This is way better than just manually turning down heat or A/C when you go out. You can plug in your return time, so that the place will be nice and cozy a few minutes before you get there. You’ll still save lots of energy, without you even noticing. The Nest model we recommend will even learn your habits and program itself accordingly.
And, of course, get a tankless water heater!
Tankless water heaters are vastly more efficient than tank models, as we explain elsewhere on this site. Learn more about them and see our current recommendations by visiting our homepage!