Tips how to conserve hot water

How to Save on your Hot Water Energy Consumption

Here are some effective ways to save on your hot water energy consumption. It will save you some money too. The less hot water you use, the less energy consumed, the less money it costs you for that energy.

There are a few simple things that you can do. Actually, they are habits that you might consider changing.

Regardless of your energy source, this will work for you. Me? My hot water energy source is LP propane. Maybe yours is natural gas. Or electric.

My hot water tank is a bit unique. The tank assembly itself is not ‘gas fired’. Rather, it’s a well insulated holding tank. The tanks’ water is heated by a system of internal coiled pipe which itself contains water that’s heated in the neighboring LP gas furnace. It’s pumped and cycled in and out of the hot water tank (back and forth from the furnace) as it heats the tanks’ water reservoir.

Anyway, it doesn’t really matter how it works.. the point being is that this is what motivated me to experiment with saving on hot water energy consumption.. Because I was curious whether or not I could reduce my propane consumption. And that thought also arose from my attempt to calculate and estimate how long a full tank of LP / propane would supply the house. Why? Just curious regarding a worst case scenario of supply chain disruption.. A mental exercise of sorts.

Ways to save on your hot water consumption and costs

Okay, back to the issue of how to save on your hot water energy consumption.

Break the habit of always turning on the hot water faucet handle

Right handed people instinctively use left hand to turn on hot water

This one is interesting, and effective. Since we’ve changed this habit, I have definitely noticed fewer cycles of my hot water tank / furnace combo.

Most of us are right handed. Studies suggest that approximately 90% of people are right-handed (source). Why does this matter in this context? It has to do with when we’re at the sink. Washing hands. Brushing teeth. You name it..

If there’s something in our right hand, we reach for the faucet handle with the left hand. And the left faucet handle is the hot water.

Do we really need to use the hot water for everything? Answer: No.

I’m right handed. Nowadays when I’m holding my toothbrush, I use my left hand to reach a bit further over to turn on the cold water instead of the hot water. Break the habit of always using the hot water.

Maybe you’re rinsing a dish in the kitchen sink. Do you really need the hot water? Maybe, if it’s greasy. But not always, right?

Did you know that using a dishwasher to wash dishes usually saves lots of water (and hot water) compared to washing them by hand? Yup..

Turn down your hot water temperature just a bit..

Every hot water tank has an adjustment for how hot the hot water gets. I turn down my hot water temperature during the summer because I don’t need a very hot shower during the summer (though more enjoyable during the winter ;). I would rather a warm/cool shower after a hot day’s work anyway! It makes a difference.

Here’s how I noticed that all this makes a difference. Every hot water tank has a thermostat. A hot water tank that has heated itself up to its ‘set’ temperature, will rest nice and easy while holding that hot water. The tank is insulated. It stays hot for a good period of time. The tank only very slowly cools down – until it reaches the thermostat threshold to fire back up again until it reaches the hot water temperature setting.

Use washing machine only when you have a full load

You can probably fit more clothes in the washing machine than you realize. Now ladies.. I know you might disagree. But from an energy saving perspective, you will consume a lot less hot water with fewer washing machine loads during a given time period.

I know.. I’m a guy.. I’ll just throw everything in the washer for one load if it were up to me. Mrs. J is in charge of this at the MSB homestead. Yes she does separate loads for particular types of clothes. But at least we have one of those front loading energy saving washers..

All of your incremental hot water savings adds up

When you’re constantly using (throughout the day) a bit of hot water here, a bit of hot water there, etc.. your hot water will trigger the thermostat more often. More fuel consumption. More energy and cost.

But on the other hand, breaking a few ordinary habits can noticeably save fuel/energy when it comes to hot water usage.

[ Read: Hot Water Without Electricity ]


  1. Funny you mention being right-handed and just recently I am beginning to train myself to not use the left side of the faucet. Kitchen sink is a one handle deal. Also this time of year the ground is warmer and the cool water setting on the washer is much warmer so I use it more. Don’t care what anyone says warm water washes better than cold.

  2. A clock can be installed to turn the heater off and on at the times you set.

  3. I have installed Rinnai (there are several name brands out there) tankless hot water system, it’s going on 17 years old now, it uses very little energy to heat to 140 degrees. Being tankless it does not heat water that loses its heat just sitting there. I don’t care how well insulated a tank is, it loses heat.

    Next I never use hot/warm water for the laundry, using a good soap negates the need for hot water. Yeah, even whites are white with a little Borox & Bleach and cold water.

    Same for hand washing dishes, cold water is just fine with a glob of Dawn dish soap. Just rinse the heck out of them. Cast Iron NEVER gets soap….. NEVER. just scrub it well and dry it on the stove for a few minutes, poof. Done. Make sure to apply a dab of oil when dry.

    So to be honest, the only warm/hot water is for the shower…. yes I LOVE a nice long hot shower… HAHA, and I know TMI right? LOLOL

    Well, I have to admit I use warm water for one other thing….
    When I give Ole Blue a bath, he deserves it for putting up with me 😳

  4. I take navy showers otherwise I feel rushed trying not to waste hot water. Problem is when I turn on the water again it comes out too hot. The water is turned off by a latch at the shower head.

  5. I installed a D’MAND hot water re-circulation system 15 years ago and it’s still going strong. Saves a lot of water. It has more than doubled in price since I bought it, but I am sure there are lower priced alternatives.

  6. Just wondering… Who else here fills up a 2 liter thermos to save hot water for tea/coffee later in the day, conveniently when its needed. Saves me boiling the kettle 3 to 5 times a day which I find wasteful and time consuming. Whats left in the thermos is used to dissolve salt for cooking vegetables. Also when I cook vegetables I bring them to the boil for a minute and then take them off the heat and wrap them in a towel, which works well. Its known as Retained Heat Cooking, it not only saves on energy, it is also quite stealthy as the the pleasant smells don’t waft over the neighborhood.

      1. I’ve enjoyed playing with thermal cooking, but in a “free” haybox. It’s pretty amazing. I have plans to “take it to another level” using heated soapstone “radiators”, for things like baking, but that’ll require a better design.

        Another way to reduce energy consumption (though not water) is learning to bake an assortment of goods without an oven. Of course you can’t beat a Dutch oven for a lot of goods, but there are some interesting ways to get bread on the table without one.

        Thank you for your always-interesting articles!

  7. Just move to Arizona. We turn our water heater off all summer. You don’t need it when the water out of the cold tap is hot enough to shower in comfortably! Now getting cold water is another matter.

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