In the glory days of cheap energy hot and cold running water were seen as essential modern conveniences in modern homes. We would laugh at the idea of going back to one tap at the kitchen sink as our grandparents used to manage with in the 1960s. Times are changing and we need to reassess all of our spending and everything that affects our carbon footprints.

Energy is now expensive and will become more so over the medium and long term. We all have better places to spend our money than on paying fuel bills so we need to reduce those bills and to reassess our need for running hot-water in our homes.

Every time you get half a gallon of hot-water from a tap we run off another gallon of cold water before the water runs hot. That wasted gallon from the pipes is originally hot-water that has gone cold, so to use half a gallon we heat up one and a half gallons . . . How sensible is that?

Where Do You Use hot-water?

In the bathroom you have probably installed an electric shower, so you do not need hot-water for a bath, and you can wash your hands and shave using cold water at the bathroom sink.

In the kitchen most families use a dishwasher rather than the sink for most of their washing up, so the need for hot-water is reduced. It makes more sense to heat water in a kettle than it does to run off two gallons of cold water through the pipes from your hot-water tank.

Storing Hot Water

hot-water in your tap usually means storing water and even the best-insulated hot-water tank loses a lot of heat and needs reheating every day. In the summer you might be running your boiler for two hours a day just to heat up your hot water tank. Gas boilers are very inefficient when used like this, though the alternative of a combi-boiler to provide instant hot-water makes slightly more sense.

Immersion heaters are a cheaper way to heat water than running your gas or oil fuelled boiler just to provide hot water, but you still have the heat losses from your hot water cylinder.

Stored hot water giving out heat to your home costs you money twice if you have air-conditioners running; once to pay for the heat that is escaping and once to remove that heat through your air conditioning system

Hot Water IS a Luxury

We take hot water for granted, but it is a luxury that we pay dearly for. Our grandparents managed without hot water on tap, so can we if we need to.

It is easy to adopt the position that hot water is a “right”. It is not and we can live perfectly well without it with our showers and dishwashers. If your income is limited then just think of the essentials you could buy if your fuel bills were halved; that is the extent of the possible savings.

The Verdict

Babies need warm water even in summer; most parents prefer to bath their baby rather than to get in the shower with him or her. The rest of us can manage perfectly well without running hot water. There are minor inconveniences like boiling the kettle to wash up or for a shave, but the savings to be made make these small sacrifices worth bearing.