Lower gas bill. Same hot shower.
Post sticker shock: Ways to use less natural gas and save on energy costs.
Was I the only guy who thought “Houston, we have a problem?” after opening my recent gas bill?!
I knew the cost of wholesale natural gas was going up, but I was still not prepared for the $$$ I owed.
But hey, at least we don’t live in Southern California! Their January natural gas costs have increased 240% over last year, while ours in the Tri-Valley area has increased “only” 25–30%, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
So how can we save money while still enjoying life’s little luxuries, like a hot shower and clean clothes?
The best way to use less natural gas?
You guessed it: A High-Efficiency Hybrid Water Heater
Easy: install a high-efficiency hybrid water heater (also known as a “heat pump water heater”). Heat pumps use a small amount of electricity to pull heat from the surrounding air, heat it up, and transfer it to your water. It’s basically the opposite of your refrigerator.
Heat pump water heaters are four to five times more efficient than a standard tank water heater (gas or electric). Increased efficiency means decreased gas usage. And that all equals money saved.
Did you realize that heating your household’s water is roughly 20% of your utility bill? By installing a heat pump water heater, you could cut that number in half or more!
Plus, high-efficiency hybrid water heaters last longer than traditional tank water heaters, with an average lifespan of ten to 15 years. And since it uses no natural gas, it’s better for the environment.
Take advantage of government incentives and rebates for high-efficiency hybrid water heaters
I know what you’re probably thinking. Phil, we need to SAVE money, not spend more of it.
I’m not telling you to buy a new high-efficiency hybrid water heater if you don’t need a new water heater. But sooner or later, you will need a new water heater. And a heat pump water heater will save you money every single year.
In an effort to reduce the effects of climate change, the state and federal governments are encouraging homeowners to purchase energy-efficient appliances with major rebates and tax credits.
- The Bay Area Regional Energy Network, BayRen, is offering $1,000 rebate on high-efficiency heat pump water heaters.
- The federal government will give you up to a $2,000 tax credit for installing an ENERGY STAR certified heat pump water heater.
- The state’s rebate offers are outlined in this recent blog: California’s hybrid water heater rebate program.
With current government rebates, upgrading to a high-efficiency hybrid water heater will cost you about the same as a standard tank water heater.
Oh, and did I mention that we will fill out all the rebate paperwork for you? Energy savings, government rebates, and no paperwork. That’s a pretty sweet deal.
Other ways to use less gas before you upgrade your water heater
Permanently turn down the temperature on your standard tank water heater a few degrees. Since standard tank-style systems heat water all the time, even when you’re at work and sleeping, a few degrees difference can add up over time.
Temporarily turn down the temperature on your water heater. If you’ll be gone for 3 or more days, go ahead and change the setting on your tank. Most water heaters have a setting on their temperature dial labeled “VACATION” or, if that setting is not available, choose “PILOT.” It will reduce your utility bill (and environmental impact).
Permanently reduce your hot water consumption. If you consume less hot water, you need to bring fewer gallons of cold water up to temp each day. Yes, it’s a small difference, but we’re trying to lower our utility bill every way possible. (These tips will also lower your water bill, since they cut down on all water usage.) To use less hot water:
- install energy-saving gadgets, like low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators
- use the cold setting on your washing machine
- only run the dishwasher when it’s full
With California’s push to lower the use of natural gas, making these changes now feels wise. Even if energy prices drop to something closer to normal in the coming months (yay, spring!), there’s no guarantee they’ll stay low. Reducing your use of natural gas will pay off now and in the years to come.
If you’re tempted to say “Yeah, this rate spike is just a convenient opportunity for you to sell me something,” remember my personal promise to you: When you call or schedule an on-site estimate, there will be no pressure. No obligation. We will not sell you a water heater or upgrade you don’t need or want.
You may not be ready for a new water heater, but it’s worth a phone call to learn more about your options and the savings offered by current rebates. Call us at (925) 438-6326 and we’ll be glad to answer your questions.
Thanks for letting us be your trusted plumber.
President of Barnett Plumbing & Water Heaters