Plumbing & Your Electric Bill

If you live in a part of the country that experiences significant variations in temperature throughout the year, it comes as no surprise that your electric bill is more expensive during the cold months than those that are warmer. It's no fun to wake up seeing your breath in the morning and those three to four‐minute showers in the summer become significantly longer in the winter because that warm water feels oh so good. While the range in your monthly electric bill is something you've probably accepted as a fact of life, have you ever stopped to think about how your plumbing system and water usage habits affect your electric bill? Below we've listed some plumbing issues as well as some best practices that will help you use energy more efficiently and lower your electric bill.

Hot Water Leaks

The most common plumbing‐related cause of spiking electricity bills is hot water leaks from an electric water heater. If you notice an increase in your bill for a month or two in a row, you should check for hot water leaks. The first place to look is your temperature and pressure release valve, which is located on or near the top of your water heater. If your temperature and pressure valve is older, it may begin to leak, and you'll notice water where the pipe terminates near the ground. If you find that your valve is leaking, it's the equivalent of having hot water run 24 hours a day, which is sure to drive up the cost of your electric bill. The good news is this is normally a pretty easy fix. However, never plug or cap a temperature and pressure relief valve or drainpipe; leaking valves must be replaced.

The next place to look for leaks is at the bottom of your water heater. As water is filtered over the course of time, minerals and sediment gather in the bottom of the tank. Eventually this can cause corrosion and lead to leaks. Make it a point to drain your water heater and clean out any sediment on an annual basis and you shouldn't have to worry about leaks of this fashion.

The inlet and outlet connections or your hot water heater wear down and loosen over time as well. If you notice leaks coming from either of these spots, the issue should be pretty simple to fix on your own. It could be that the connections just need to be tightened with a wrench. On the other hand, if you find that you have a faulty pipe, then you'll need to replace it which involves a little more work but is still relatively straight forward.

Water dripping from the hot water side of your faucets is another place to check, as well as under the sinks for a leaking shut off or supply line.

One of the most difficult leaks to find is a pipe installed under a home's concrete slab. For instance, some may show up as a warm spot on the floor. This type of leak would require a professional to determine the best course of action.

Using Water Efficiently

Whether you live alone or have a big family, the manner in which everyone in your home uses water has a tremendous impact on your electric bill. The good news is that there are some ways to be mindful of your water usage that don't cost money or require a lot of effort.

Washing Dishes

There's no question that your dishwasher is going to fill up quickly if you invite your friends over for a fun evening and prepare a lavish meal. But what about all the other meals where you use maybe only a pot, pan, plate and some silverware? Do you find yourself using the dishwasher when it's not full? Every load of dishes, regardless of the washer being full or not, uses about six gallons of water and lots of electricity. Let's say for example that you do two loads of dishes per week. That's eight per month. If you can find a way to cut that number down to even five or six per month, you're already on your way to lowering your electric bill and saving water.

Taking a Shower

If you're like most people, there's nothing better than standing under a hot stream of water for a few minutes in the morning to help wake you up. While the sensation is an enjoyable one, the longer you stay in, the longer your water heater is running and the more electricity you use. Even though it might be tough at first, try cutting down on your time in the shower. It shouldn't take long to get used to and you'll be saving precious energy all the while. You can also choose to get a lower flow shower head, which when combined with a shorter shower time can save considerable water and power.

Watering Your Lawn

You probably take a lot of pride in caring for your lawn. With regular mowing, fertilizing and watering, keeping your lawn looking nice takes some work. Have you considered how often and for how long your sprinklers are on, though? Are there certain spots in your yard that maybe you're overwatering? These are some questions to consider as running your sprinklers too much can cause your electric bill to jump up in a hurry. If you have flower beds or a vegetable garden, it is worth considering a drip irrigation system.

Final Thoughts

Even though you might not think about it every day, there is a direct correlation between your plumbing system, how you use your water, and your electric bill. No one is going to deny that we need water to cook, clean, and drink but, there are some simple steps you can take to make sure everything is running as it should and you're using water responsibly. If you make it a point to implement even just a few of the practices of above, you'll quickly find more money in your wallet and less going to the electric company at the end of every month.

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