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Old 01-07-2011, 03:06 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Putting Hot Water Heater on a Timer?

I have been thinking of this for a while now but would it be worth it to put my hot water heater on a timer? I figure that cycling it on 2x a day for 15 minutes at a time should keep the water sufficiently warm for a shower and some minor washing. I actually tried doing it manually from the circuit breaker box for a month and it cut my power bill, so I know it works. From what I can tell it seems to be the least energy efficient appliance in the home and thus could permit me to see significant reductions in energy costs.

Ideally I would like to switch to a tankless system so that I would not have to continually heat water that I am not using but I am fairly poor and simply can't afford it. Pizza delivery just doesn't pay what it used to.

At any rate, what would be involved in doing this and has anyone else tried it?

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Last edited by Jim-Bob; 01-07-2011 at 03:16 AM..
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Old 01-07-2011, 04:09 AM   #2 (permalink)
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how is it attached to power? If it is simply plugged into a socket you could use a light timer that gardeners use.
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Old 01-07-2011, 04:49 AM   #3 (permalink)
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It is hard-wired into the house's electrical system so I would have to add the timer into the circuit. I was thinking of a mechanical timer like my pool has or a more modern electronic one that does the same thing.
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Old 01-07-2011, 08:22 AM   #4 (permalink)
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You should check out EcoRenovator. Its EM's sister site that is focused on home efficiency. A bunch of guys there are using water heater timers and are quite happy with the results. Here is one example:

Water heater improvement (Timer) - EcoRenovator
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Old 01-07-2011, 11:57 PM   #5 (permalink)
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220 volt electric water heater timers cost about $30 last I checked, I got mine used from my parents who installed it in the early '90's before they got a forced vent gas water heater and put the vent fan on a timer, doing that to their LP water heater cut their LP gas use in half.
I had a hard time getting a solid pre-timer electrical use on my house but it would appear as if my timer cut the electrical use of the water heater by 1/3 to 1/2, or about $10 to $15 per month in a house with three adults.
How mine is set, it comes on before our first water use of the day, so at 5:30am it comes on, 7am it turns off, 7:30am my alarm goes off and I get up, at that point any any cold water entering the tank stays cold until about 3pm when the timer comes on again, turning off at 4:30pm
The reason that the timer comes on for 1.5 hours at a time is that my timer has large tabs with little thumb screws on them and that is as close together as I can get them, with this set up we have never been left with cold water, my co-home-owner said that she would pay for half of any improvements like this as long as it didn't impede on comfort, so no cold showers! on guest we had took a shower at 4 am, before the timer clicked on and she said it was still warm enough to shower, not steaming hot but nothing to complain about, so why worry about turning it off at all? because the greater the heat difference the greater the heat loss from the tank, a 125F tank of water is going to cool faster then a 80F or 90F degree tank of water in a 60F degree room and so an untimed water heater will reheat that tank of water a few times per day, middle of the day, middle of the night and will have cooled off enough that it will reheat again most likely right about the time you wake up and take a shower, so let it sit cool/cold all day and all night then heat it up right before you want it.
On demand water heaters tend to have a 20-25 year payback, putting a timer on your tank has a 2-4 month pay back, even a $100 timer is going to be a year and that is a good investment!
You can also get solid state relays for $20-$60 that are heavy enough to handle an electric hot water heater, this would open up your options for adding manual remote controls or automated controls, something I'm trying to work on.

Last edited by Ryland; 01-08-2011 at 01:47 AM..
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Old 01-09-2011, 12:25 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I've been using a water heater timer for over 30 years now. It is for a 240 VAC water heater. It has one hour resolution. I haven't seen any 240 VAC timers with less than 1 hour resolution. I have a 120 VAC timer I used for other stuff that has 0.5 hour resolution.

I initially set it for one hour in the morning for my shower before going to work and one hour in the evening for doing dishes. But I found I usually had enough residual hot water left in the evening after my morning shower that I stopped turning it on in the evening.

Since I retired, I stopped using the timer and just turn the hot water heater on manually when I need it.
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Old 01-10-2011, 02:03 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daox View Post
You should check out EcoRenovator. Its EM's sister site that is focused on home efficiency. A bunch of guys there are using water heater timers and are quite happy with the results. Here is one example:

Water heater improvement (Timer) - EcoRenovator
Thanks for the links! I'll be sure to check them out.
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Old 01-10-2011, 02:04 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daox View Post
You should check out EcoRenovator. Its EM's sister site that is focused on home efficiency. A bunch of guys there are using water heater timers and are quite happy with the results. Here is one example:

Water heater improvement (Timer) - EcoRenovator
Thanks for the links! I'll be sure to check them out.
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Old 01-18-2011, 05:22 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I too installed a timer on my water heater. I bought it from Home Depot, but they are available at most hardware stores. They are not hard to install, however, if you have never worked with electricity in the home, hire a professional and save yourself the trouble of frying your water heater.

Anyhow the one I own has little tabs you can adjust to within 10 minute intervals. I have my heater kick on twice a day for 15 minutes and have had no issues since ..

GL
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Old 01-18-2011, 05:39 PM   #10 (permalink)
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If the water is already hot, why would you need to heat it ?

Joking ;-) ( A ' hot ' water ....heater )

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