Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tips to cool down your hot-water bill

NEW YORK (10/29/08)--Trying to reduce costs? Although you can't control gasoline and grocery prices, you can control hot water consumption ( Oct. 23).

At today's rates, hot water costs can add up to more than $1,000 a year. If you have a family, your bill could be much higher.

Begin with simple conservation measures:

Involve the whole family. Sit down and discuss ways everyone can use less water. Don't be a hypocrite--if you're harping on your kids to turn off the water while they brush their teeth, make sure you're doing the same.

Take showers instead of baths. Showering instead of bathing can save about 12,000 gallons of water a year--about $180 a year.

Set time limits for showers. Instead of hollering up the stairs each night for kids to get out of the shower, use an egg timer to help control length.

The Energy Department also recommends:

Load the dishwasher. Washing dishes by hand uses more energy and hot water than your dishwasher. Load the dishwasher efficiently and try running it less frequently. When purchasing a new dishwasher, check the Energy Guide label. Know the difference between compact and standard capacity. Compact-capacity may appear to be more energy efficient, but actually may hold fewer dishes.

Wash clothing in cold or warm water, rinse on cold. Unlike dishwashers, there isn't a minimum temp for optimum cleaning in a clothes washer. Older models can cost three times more to operate than newer models. Select a machine that lets you adjust water temps and levels. Efficient models spin-dry clothes, saving money when drying. Front loaders use less water and less energy than top loaders. Check EnergyGuide labels--a reduced capacity washer might mean you'll have to do more loads.

Lower the water temperature. Set your water heater thermostat at the lowest temperature that will provide you with sufficient hot water. For most households 120°F water should be OK--about midway between the low and medium setting. This also is a smart safety measure to avoid little hands getting burned. If you're going to be gone a few days, turn the thermostat down to the lowest possible setting, or turn the water heater completely off (American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy).

For more conservation tips, listen to the radio segment "Use and Conserve Water Wisely" in Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

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