How Much Hot Water Do We

Americans use — and waste — appalling amounts of hot water. People in other parts of the world just can't believe us. Motel owners in

E:urope complain bitterly about how tourists from the United States increase their fuel bills and overload their septic systems. We're spoiled. We squander water just the way we've squandered many of our other resources.

John Murphy, in the Homeowner's Energy Guide, says that we use up hot water in approximately this way: Every time we take a shower we use about 10 gallons of hot water. Whenever we take a bath we use at least that much — often more. An average clothes washer uses 22 gallons of hot water per regular washing cycle, and an automatic dishwasher uses about 15 gallons — which, by the way, can be more hot water than it takes to wash dishes in the sink by hand.

Each time we shave or wash our hands we use about 1/2 gallon of hot water, on the average. But what's really shocking is how much we waste just testing the temperature of our shower water — 1/2 to 2 gallons a test! We're literally pouring energy down the drain. (See Panel 1.)

Coil Heat Exchanger Schematic
Figure 1. This simplified schematic diagram shows the three major components in a solar-operated hot water system: (1) the collectors themselves, (2) the pump, plumbing, storage tank and heat-exchanger coil, and (3) the differential thermostat that controls the whole system.

All of this averages out to 2,500 gallons of hot water a month for a family of 5, or 30,000 gallons a year. That may be twice as much as we actually need, but it's what we're used to. This can be reduced of course, in any number of ways: by lowering the thermostat on the hot water heater, ;nsulating hot water tanks and pipes, using cold water detergents and washing clothes in cold water, and — best of all — taking a shower with a friend.

Solar Panel Basics

Solar Panel Basics

Global warming is a huge problem which will significantly affect every country in the world. Many people all over the world are trying to do whatever they can to help combat the effects of global warming. One of the ways that people can fight global warming is to reduce their dependence on non-renewable energy sources like oil and petroleum based products.

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