We can’t just resolve to stay warm and save money at the same time. We sometimes have to do something about it. Spokesman Tim Burke with Emerson Electric in St.Louis says a lot of homes don’t need to have the water heater on "high." He says many people set their water heaters at 130 to 135 degrees. "That’s ‘way too high," he says, "There’s the danger of scalding. But you can take that back to 115 to 120 degrees and you’ll save one to one and a half percent per degree that you turn the water heater down." He says he has his water heater set at 115 degrees and he never runs out of hot water at his St. Louis home.
He says there are a lot of losses of heat from the outside of water heaters. But he says insulating wraps for water heaters, available at hardware stores, can contain that heat within the device.
Burke says simple thermostat adjustments can make a big financial difference, too. "You don’t want to freeze the pipes up, but if you’re going to be gone all day or during a weekend, you really should set those temperatures back to save on energy. If you turn the temperature down about six degrees every day that the home is not occupied, you can save $200-250 a year just by manually setting the thermostat back."
He says the department of energy estimates the six-degree setback will save will result in a 25 percent savings on the energy bill. He says most homes hold heat well enough that the thermost won’t need to be turned back up for hours.
Burke says federal studies show that many homes could save money with programmable thermostats. He says only about 25-million of the nation’s 91-million single family homes use programmable thermostats. "Out of those 25-million homes in America….over half of those aren’t even using it," he says.
"We’re talking 80-million homes that are not using some kind of setback, digital or mechanical means, to program their thermostat back six degrees every night," he says, He estimates total energy savings would reach ten billion dollars a year if only half of those homes did the six-degree setback at night or when the home is not occupied.
Burke says there’s no reason to keep a house at regular heating levels when people are gone, or when they’re sleeping.