For many individuals, the holidays are a time for family and friends. However, when you host those family members and friends in your own home, you should prepare your plumbing in advance.
In our previous blog, “Planning a Party? 5 Ways to Protect Your Plumbing,” we provided strategies that can help you keep your drains unobstructed when you have guests. In this blog, we tackle another common hosting issue: increased hot water usage.
We explain how guests can impact hot water availability and list five tips to ensure that there’s enough hot water to go around.
Why Guests Have Such a Large Effect on Hot Water Availability
When you plan for guests, you know you can expect more showers. But many homeowners fail to account for other uses of hot water that can decrease availability.
When you host, you have to deal with more dirty dishes and may have to run the dishwasher more often.
Your guests’ daily hygiene and beauty routines can also take their toll. Your system will have to deal with more people washing their hands, cleaning their faces, and so on.
Additionally, you may end up washing more loads of laundry to help your guests keep their wardrobes clean or to provide yourself enough linens for holiday meals, guest beds, and household bathrooms.
Even as few as two guests can significantly change your hot water availability, especially if you have a smaller household. It’s important to plan ahead to ensure that your system experiences less strain and you experience less stress while your guests are in town.
How You Can Ensure That Every Person Has Enough Hot Water
To ensure that every person who is staying with you gets a comfortable shower and that you still have enough hot water to wash dishes, prepare your home in advance and implement water usage guidelines. Use these five tips.
1. Clean Your Faucets
Over time, your showerheads, tub faucets, and sink fixtures can become partially obstructed by mineral deposits. This residue keeps water from flowing freely, which can reduce the perceived water pressure from individual faucets. If your guests feel like they aren’t getting enough water, they may leave the faucet on for longer and use more hot water.
Use vinegar to dissolve any deposits on your faucets. Remove your showerheads and soak them overnight.
For faucets that you cannot remove, dip the end of the faucet in a bowl of vinegar for 10 to 15 minutes and then run the water. If the faucet still has buildup on it, repeat the process.
2. Have Your Water Heater Checked
Before your guests arrive, schedule a water heater inspection with a trusted plumber. Your plumber can evaluate the water heater’s conditions and settings with guests in mind. A plumber may recommend cleaning and draining the tank, replacing old heating elements, and repairing any leaks.
Additionally, your plumber may raise the water heater temperature slightly to compensate for higher water usage. You can switch the temperature settings back to normal once your guests return home.
3. Install Low-Flow Showerheads
To reduce the amount of water your guests use while bathing, consider installing low-flow showerheads. Low-flow fixtures reduce the amount of water coming from the faucet, usually without impacting the perceived water pressure.
With low-flow showerheads, it will take more time to go through your heated water so each person can enjoy a slightly longer shower without leaving the next person out in the cold.
4. Only Run Full Loads
While you have guests, be sure to only run dishwasher and washing machine loads that are completely full. For laundry, you may also want to switch to cold water settings when the contents of a load allow.
Smart laundry and dishwashing choices leave you with more hot water for hand washing and showers.
5. Make a Schedule
Once your guests arrive, come up with a shower schedule that works for everyone. You may want to have some individuals shower at night and others in the morning to reduce the strain on your hot water heater.
Have your guests limit their showers to 15 minutes if possible, and plan to have 10 minutes of rest time between each shower. These intervals can stretch your reservoir of hot water out to accommodate more people.
If multiple people need to bathe at the same time, ask if one person is willing to take a bath instead of a shower. While baths use more water overall, you can run hot bath water, wait for 5 to 10 minutes, and then start a shower without the hot water running out.
Once the hot water runs out, expect to wait between one and two hours for the tank to refill and reheat completely.
Use these guidelines to make your holidays warmer and less stressful for you and for each of your guests.