Unless you’re very thrifty or like cold water for some strange reason, here are 5 times when we use hot water. It is estimated that 1/3 of home energy costs go to heating water. A family of four probably uses about 70 gallons per day – add teenagers and you’re probably exceeding that number by a lot. Home water heaters usually hold 40 to 55 gallons of water – do the math and you’ll see why the last person in might get a cold shower and why you need a strategy to share the water. Of course, each of these actions use a mix of hot and cold water and we’re showing you the total of both, but the picture is still clear!

  1. Washing dishes by hand. If you leave the tap running – something many of us are guilty of doing – you’ll probably somewhere between 10 and 20 gallons to finish the job. Roughly a little less than half of that will be hot – or if you rinse in the hottest water possible it may be more than half.
  2. A dishwasher. Did you realize a dishwasher actually uses less water than hand washing the dishes? Figure about 7 to 10 gallons of water per load. Your dishwasher may have a water miser cycle – use it!
  3. Laundry machine. Figure 40 gallons of water per load on an older top-loading machine. A newer front loading machine will cut that number by half or more. Use a cold water detergent and you water use could be 0!
  4. A bath. You’ll probably relax in about 30 to 40 gallons of water and depending on the temperature you like and the temperature your water heater is set at, about half or more of those gallons may come from the hot water heater.
  5. A shower. A ten-minute shower uses 20 to 40 gallons, but have you ever tried to get a teen out of a shower in just 10 minutes? Again, depending on the mix about half of that water may come from your hot water heater.

The math is pretty simple. If a family of four takes 10 minute showers they may have just used up to 80 gallons of water! If Mom did the dishes at the same time, the water is going to be gone even sooner. So what does a family do? You can schedule so some family members take their showers in the morning and some at night. You can use the delay feature on some dishwashers so it does its work when no one is trying to shower or bathe. Another option is a tankless water heater that heats on demand so you never run out of hot water. Work it out as a family because no one wants a cold shower and no one wants to have to listen to complaints when the hot water is gone.

What Not to Flush