After writing the post on being frugal and green, I thought it might be a good idea to share tips for things that have helped me along the way.
My first tip will be a water heater timer. For those of us that have hot water tanks, they can be a huge energy hog. While I would love to have a solar hot water tank, it just isn't in the budget right now. Along the way I stumbled across the idea of putting your tank on a timer. This works by shutting off the tank during hours that you aren't using it. Most of us only use our tanks for showers in the morning and possibly dishwashing at night. The rest of the time your heater is just keeping the water hot. It ends up being a huge energy waster.
We decided that we really only needed hot water for showers in the morning. I also decided to use my dishwasher in the morning as well. I already do all my laundry in cold water, so that wasn't an issue for me. In our case the tank is on from 6am until noon. The water stays hot for a very long time all by itself and I've given the kids nice warm baths at 7pm without a problem.
If you are worried about needing more hot water for something out of the ordinary, all you need to do is flip a switch and it turns back on until the next cycle resets it. I'm not sure how much this has saved us, since we have made many changes in the past few years, but I have seen a continued drop in our electric usage. The average is supposed to be in the 5-12% range for water heater usage.
Ours was installed by an electrician. Hubby does computer work for him, so we bartered for some electrical work and this was one of the small jobs I had him do. If you have someone relatively handy, there are plenty of DIY sites to show you how to install it yourself.