How to heat your water more effeciently

Browse main article categories

hot-water-carbon-footprintFor day 15 of our carbon fast, we had to consider the way we heat our water.

The suggestion reads: “Your hot water heater represents about 20-30% of the carbon emissions of your home. Consider setting your hot water thermostat to 120 degrees F. Insulate your hot water tank with an insulation jacket if available for your system. Arrange for your boiler to be serviced so it runs more efficiently. When you next replace your boiler, get a condensing boiler – they use less fuel than conventional boilers to produce the same amount of heat and can save 32% on fuel bills.”

Ok, there are a lot of assumptions here as beautifully illustrated by Argentum Vulgaris who totally educated me about his life in Rio de Janeiro. In his part of the world, the only access to hot water he has is an electric shower head. There is no such luxury as hot water for clothes or washing the dishes!

For us, we DO have an electric immersion heater (no gas, so no boiler) which is the bane of my life. Talk about prehistoric technology. Think about it – isn’t it crazy to heat up water to sit in a tank that you might not use? Isn’t it even more crazy that if you draw a small bowl of that water for washing up, the tank gets refilled with COLD water which then cools down the rest of the water you have heated?

In the winter we are fortunate enough to run a wood burner which heats the water. Mr Green has installed a tankless water heater (ie an old shower from Freecycle!) for the kitchen sink so we can wash the dishes in warm water. I’ve also asked him to install a shower downstairs so I will be inclined to use more showers than baths during the summer.

Currently we have to put the electric immersion heater on every time we want a bath, which, during the summer can be quite often. By switching to a shower I hope to reduce the need to use the immersion to just once or twice a week.

We already have the thermostat pretty low and up to the minute insulation, but the very lack of technology for an immersion tank system really bothers me in this day and age..

how do you heat water in your home? I’d love to know? Or are you like our friend in Rio de Janeiro where hot water coming out of taps is unheard of?


  1. Small Footprints on March 24, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    I have a question … I’m really not sure what an immersion type water heater is. I’m guessing that it is something which sits in the water and has an element that heats the water but … is this something you actually put inside the tub? The concept is interesting.

    Anyway … we have a hot water tank with an electric water heater. We don’t like the idea of the unit constantly working to keep the water hot so we’ve turned it off at the circuit box. The ONLY time we use hot water is for showers so before a shower, we turn the unit on for about 30 minutes and that’s enough for two showers. We try to only take showers when necessary so there are days that the water heater is not turned on at all. We do our dishes and laundry in cold water.

    Thanks, Mrs. Green!

  2. Mrs Green on March 27, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    @Small Footprints: An immersion tank is a large tank that holds arond 150 litres of water and has a heating element in it. I guess it’s like a giant kettle! You turn it on and it heats the water in about an hour. Ours is upstairs so the water has to travel along all the pipes to get to the bath which is downstairs (wasting heat yet again)…It sounds very much like your hot water tank to be honest; probably just a different name. We also call them fortic tanks.

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

Or try our Site map and Tags

Featured posts

Five natural ways to cure Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD

In Northern Europe, around 12 million people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Symptoms range from mild such as feeling a little…

Basic natural household cleaning kit

You’ve all been waiting patiently to begin making your own household cleaners. You know some of the nasties you want to avoid…

A natural homemade recipe for cough syrup using thyme, garlic, honey and sage.

Mother Nature bestows so many gifts upon us, providing all we could ever need for a long and healthy life; foods to…