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How much energy does a boiler use: Budget drain

Does your energy bill make you shiver in dread? It’s likely to be your boiler’s fault. Let’s explore how much energy an electric boiler uses and discuss how to keep its running costs under control.

An electric boiler works like a kettle

An electric boiler is connected to your home’s mains and water line. When you need hot water, the boiler draws cold water from the water line and takes it to an electric heating element. When passing through the heating element, the cold water warms up and then flows through your home’s water system to radiators, taps, and showers.

Depending on what type of boiler you have installed, hot water can be supplied either directly to radiators and taps or through a hot water tank. Some systems also have a cold water tank to store cold water, just in case.

Hot water and heating can double your electricity bill

Calculating your boiler’s energy consumption is easy – you may find the power rating right on the equipment itself or in its datasheet. If you are just thinking about what boiler to install and how much power you need, the general rule of thumb is 1.5 kW per each radiator. So, if you have four radiators, you’ll need a 6-kW boiler. If your boiler is suggested to supply hot water as well, you may add another 3 kW to the required boiler wattage as a safety margin, but some experts say it’s not necessary.

Once we know our boiler’s wattage, we can calculate its energy consumption. For this, we need to multiply our boiler’s wattage by the number of hours it runs. If we turn on our 6-kW boiler for 2 hours a day, the power consumption will be:

6 kW x 2 hours = 12 kWh

That’s... a lot. The average American household spends about 30 kWh per day on all electrical needs. In this example, we ran a boiler for only two hours, but it has already made almost half of our bill.

Let’s convert watts to dollars. The average price per kWh in America is now $0.17, so a month of boiler use will cost us:

12 kWh/day x 30 days x $0.17/kWh = over $60

The average electricity bill in the United States hovers at about $150. And a boiler makes almost half of it. The energy consumption of a powerful boiler can even overtake that of an electric furnace. Are there any ways to bring it down?

5 tips for saving money on your electric boiler

Want to enjoy a cozy home without breaking the bank? Here are five hacks to keep you comfortable without turning your boiler into a financial black hole.

Tip #1: Upgrade your insulation

Drafty windows and doors steal your warmth and money. Seal air leaks around windows, doors, attics, and basements to prevent warm air from escaping. This significantly reduces heat loss and keeps your home warmer for longer, minimizing boiler use.

If you use a water heater which is similar in idea to a boiler, check its insulation as well. When you touch the heater, it shouldn’t feel warm. Fiberglass insulation was popular 10 years ago but it’s not the best option today. You can replace old insulation with a foam blanket with a rating of R-8 minimum. You can add foam sleeves on pipes to help them preserve heat. As a result, you can lower the costs of water heating by 8-10%.

Tip #2: Lower thermostat settings and dress for the season

Even a 1-2 degree decrease in thermostat temperature can lead to significant energy savings. You can go even further by 5-7 degrees when sleeping or away from home. Experiment with finding a comfortable yet energy-efficient setting. Layer up with warm clothes during cooler months instead of constantly cranking up the heat.

Tip #3: Maintain your boiler

Schedule annual boiler servicing to ensure peak efficiency and avoid unnecessary energy consumption. A qualified technician can also assess your system for potential upgrades, such as installing a high-efficiency pump or optimizing boiler settings for your specific needs. These adjustments can significantly improve boiler performance and reduce energy use.

Tip #4: Use hot water wisely

Think about how you use hot water. Shorter showers and fixing leaky faucets can add up to big savings. Implementing a low-flow showerhead can further minimize hot water usage.

Tip #5: Run your boiler on solar power

A solar system can offset some of your energy consumption, reducing your reliance on the grid and lowering electricity bills. Even with occasional grid top-up, solar panels offer substantial savings.

Take California, for instance. The US most common 7kW system there can generate 30 kilowatt-hours of usable electricity per day – enough to drag your monthly bill down by $150–$170.

Solar panels help to reduce your costs throughout the year. In winter, they can support your heating, while in summer, they can offset the power drain from your air conditioner, tackling both your home’s biggest energy consumers.

Note: Summer sun can power your solar system up to 50% more than winter. Consider this when choosing the right size for your needs. Thinking about DIY solar? Check out our guide: “Ultimate guide: DIY solar system kit” and avoid common pitfalls.

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Years of experience in translation and a love of nature help Julia find the right words to encourage going solar. She joined the team in 2023 and is happy to make her contribution to a greener future.

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