Cut water-heating costs by implementing these tips from eco-plumbing expert Lee Hupka, owner of Green Choice Plumbing & Heating Ltd.

Given that the average Canadian uses 75 litres of hot water per day, what are the biggest hot-water wasters in the home?

The old high-flow fixtures are definitely water wasters. If you switch to low-flow fixtures, you’ll use about a third of the water... another big waste is people running the water to a certain temperature before a shower, sometimes for two minutes before they hop in. To get around this, you can upgrade the mixing valves in your shower to more accurate models. A lot of the old ones, and some of the new ones, don’t mix very well.

Are there ways to make a hot-water tank more efficient?

Insulation is a good thing to keep piping from losing heat during transmission. You can also put reflective insulating jackets around older tanks to add a little R-value [or thermal resistance]. But most newer heaters come with more insulation, so they’ve added that extra R-value already.

Do pools and hot tubs really consume a lot of power to heat water?

Yes, although, many hot tubs are heated by natural-gas boilers. Steam generators for saunas are all electric, though, and can draw a lot* of power.

How else can homeowners cut their water-heating costs?

It’s mainly a commercial practice, but if you have a large home, you could consider a recirculating pump. It provides instant hot water to the fixture farthest from your water heater, which means you don’t have to run the water waiting for it to heat up. Some come with built-in timers, allowing you to shut off hot-water production at night and save energy.

*Pools and hot tubs can raise a household’s daily power usage by around 30%, taking into account water heaters, pumps, filters, lights and other electricity-drawing elements.

To submit a question to our expert, please email us: teampowersmart@bchydro.com

Make the Switch

A leaky faucet can waste up to 11,350 litres of water in a year, and if it’s the hot-water faucet, you’re wasting power, too. Assuming you have an electric water heater, fixing the leak would save you $33 per year.