Staying in hot water 

Unless you have the tiniest water heater, then unplugging or flipping the breaker will not save on electricity.

EDITOR'S NOTE: All of Ask Renee's columns are moving to NUVO! Here's one from August of 2015.

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If I flip the breaker on my water heater off in the morning and then turn it on when I return home from work, do I save on electricity or does it use the same amount (or more) to heat the tank back up?



This question nearly blew me out of the water. I’m no plumber or energy expert, so I don’t want to get in too deep, but here are my thoughts.

Unless you have the tiniest water heater, then unplugging or flipping the breaker will not save on electricity. In fact, it will use more energy to bring the water back up to temperature daily.

The two most important things you can do to make sure you’re heating your water efficiently are:

Make sure you have the proper size of water heater for your home. A water heater that’s too small will have the appliance working on overload and too large of a water heater will be heating extra water needlessly.

Keep the temperature set appropriately. Most energy-saving checklists recommend setting the temp to 120 degrees. This is hot enough to kill most germs, but not excessively hot.

If you are that concerned about how much energy your water heater is using, you may want to consider a tankless or on-demand water heater. These also come in different sizes with different requirements, so make sure you consult a professional.

Other water-heating tips:

Install low-flow faucets and showerheads,

Insulate your water storage tank,

Insulate your pipes, and

Drain a quart of water from your water tank every 3-6 months to remove sediments (do not start doing this now if you never have before).

Piece out,



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Renee Sweany

Renee Sweany

Renee has spent the past several years surrounding herself with like-minded people who share her passion for caring for the planet. She began writing “Ask Renee” after four years of offering green tips through her e-newsletter Green Piece Indy. E-mail her your green living queries at

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