How to Reduce the Cost of Water Heating, Water Softening, Water, and Sewage

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Water Heating

Water heating makes up 18% of home energy costs.

Tankless Water Heater

We considered a tankless water heater for its energy savings, but our current water heater is doing fine.  We are also planning to move in a year, so there wouldn’t be time for the water heater to pay for itself.  According to Emily Beach, the payback period for a tankless water heater is longer than its expected life.  Consumer Reports says tankless water heaters have improved,  but is still waiting to evaluate the newest models.

Water Heater Timer

We were seriously considering this option for our gas water heater.  According to Mr. Electricity, timers don’t save much money because the water normally gets used before it loses heat.

Use Less Hot Water


We had a low flow shower had installed when we had an energy audit.  I only shower every other day.  My exercise consists of walking, so I don’t break a sweat. did an article about showering frequency.  I do let the shower run constantly, but realize I could save hot water if I turned it off while shampooing or soaping up.

Hand Washing

I use cold water to wash my hands.  I never really paid attention until this morning.  The CDC says using cold water is OK.

Clothes Washer

We use cold water to wash our clothes whenever possible.


We don’t run our dishwasher, unless it is full.  As empty nesters, this is often every other day.

Water Softening

When my wife took a leave of absence years ago, one way we decreased our expenses was to buy the water softener we had been renting from Culligan.  We found out we should have bought it years before.  We look for sales on water softener salt.  Sometimes Culligan runs a great sale, but the bags are heavier than I want to carry with my back problems.

Water and Sewage


Toilets are the biggest user of water, at 26.7% of indoor use of water.  I try to get in the habit of not flushing after urinating, but it is hard to break the habit.  At my age, I need to go frequently.  We do keep the toilet lid closed to keep the cat out.  Keeping the lid closed hides not flushing after urinating.  We also put a brick in our toilet tank to reduce the amount of water per flush.

Clothes Washer

Clothes washers use 21.7% of indoor water.  It is more efficient to only wash full loads.

Outdoor Use

Outdoor use accounts for 30% of water usage.  We don’t water very often.  Our city averages 26 inches in annual precipitation.  According to University of Minnesota Extension, Kentucky bluegrass will go dormant and use little water in dry spells.  Watering too often will make the root system shorter and less tolerant of dry spells.

Analyzing Water Costs by Usage

Our city charges about .5 cents per gallon for water and .5 cents per gallon for sewage.   That means it is about one cent for water per gallon, if it goes into the sewer.  That means the water costs (not including water heating costs) for the following activities are:

Flushing toilet (older toilet)          3.5 gallons      3.5 cents

Dishwasher (3 x 6 gallons/cycle) 18 gallons         18 cents

Clothes Washer                               40 gallons        40 cents

Shower                                             17 gallons        17 cents



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