Photo: A solar water heater sits on a tiled roof
A solar water heater sits on a tiled roof in Greece.

Photograph by Jeff Morgan / Alamy

Usage Tips

The best way to shrink the environmental footprint made by heating water is simply to heat less water. But there are some simple ways to reduce the impact of the water you do heat.

  • Turn down the heat. Try lowering the thermostat on your water heater. You might not even notice the difference. The Department of Energy recommends a setting of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The lower you go, the less work your heater will have to do and the less fuel you’ll burn. Each 10 degrees Fahrenheit on the dial could save 3 to 5 percent on fuel use, emissions, and utility costs.
  • Wrap it up. Insulating your water heater’s tank—as well as the first 6 feet or so of its connecting pipes—can help keep your water warm far longer. That means your heater can fire up less frequently.

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