PUTTING A TIMER ON A WATER HEATER (ENERGY)greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
I POSTED A RESPONSE TO A QUESTION, WHICH SPUN OFF A ANOTHER QUESTION: HAS ANYONE EVER PUT A TIMER ON A WATER HEATER TO CONTROL ENERGY COSTS? IF A TIMER, SUCH AS THE ONES USED FOR TURNING LIGHTS ON AND OFF WHEN WE ARE OUT OF TOWN, IS PUT ON A WATER HEATER AND SET TO SHUT OFF DURING THE MIDDLE OF NIGHT WHEN WE WON'T NEED HOT WATER, IT WOULD SAVE ENERGY (AND MONEY). HAS ANYONE OUT THERE DONE THIS? WAS IT WORTH THE EFFORT? ANY RESPONSES WOULD GREATLY BE APPRECIATED. JRGUERRA
-- JULIO R. GUERRA (JRGUERRA@BOULTINGHOUSESIMPSON.COM), April 26, 2001
I have a neighbor that tried a simular idea by putting a switch in line and would turn on the water heater only when needed. He is as frugal as the day is long and he went back to normal operation as he noticed no savings turning it on and off. He surmised that the energy to reheat the water each time must have equaled the energy to maintain a constant temp.
If you try this you'll probably need a much more substantial amperage timer than one used for turning lights on and off. Perhaps on like they use for turning on & off big display lighting systems.
If you give it a go, let us know how it works out. The regularity of a timer might make the difference. I know the computer controlled thermostat I installed cut our heating bills by at least 1/3 to 1/2. Now we heat only when we need it.
-- Willy Allen (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 26, 2001.
Ours is hard wired into a Tork time switch, looks like a small breaker box, opened it is just a large timer, you set the dials. On the practical side it is great, we have it turn off at 11pm and back on at 5am. On the impractical side, coming in to a cold shower in the middle of the night after delivering does...........We recently installed an instant water heater for a customer, they are coming down in price, 500$ which puts it right in line with a new water heater, when you figure out the savings that is had for not reheating a tank full of water every hour! Vicki
-- Vicki McGaugh TX (email@example.com), April 26, 2001.
I have a timer on my water heater. It is a model especially made for it. Basically I only need hot water in the morning for a shower, etc., then not again until late evening. Thus, the water heater is on only about four hours a day. If I need a surge, such as washing clothing, there is a separate button to turn the heater back on until it completes the next cycle. Except for immediately after a load of clothes, there is hot water there when I want it.
I cannot document savings, but do know an electric water heater is one of the biggest energy consumers in a house (along with electric heating and air conditioning).
The timers cost about $30 as I recall and any hardware outlet should be able to get one for you. They are fairly easy to wire. Even if you only save $5 a month, payback, is only about six months.
While installing one, also check your settings. I have mine set to 120 degrees. If I'm going to be away from the house for a couple of days, I turn the water heater off entirely.
-- Ken S. in WC TN (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 26, 2001.
Generally speaking your water heater element is only energized 1-3 hours per day, (unless you use a lot of hot water). About 15-20 min. of that is to replace the heat that is lost to the environment around the tank. Many people report huge saving from timers on their water heaters but this is usually because they are limiting the availability of hot water and thus are using less. However,you can use less without a timer. It's the forced lifestyle change that creates the savings, not a technologic advance. If you use a timer to strategically heat your water just before you use it, thus eliminating the losses associated with having a tank full of hot water sitting around heating the closet, then you will get a real benefit. Otherwise, the benefit is a result of the forced conservation that comes from knowing you have a limited amount of hot water available because your timer is keeping it off most of the time. I strongly suggest an insulation blanket. This cost less, is easier to install,(no electrian required),will signicantly reduce standby losses, and will not subject you to the inconvience of not having hot water when you want it. Also turning down the thermostat is good as mentioned before. Be carefull to follow installation instruction carefully. There are a few details that if not followed can damage your tank and reduce its life expectancy but if done correctly there are no problems.
-- carter (email@example.com), April 26, 2001.
Our water heater is on a timer, and is on for about 1 1/2 hours first thing in the morning so we can bathe and shower, etc. If we need to use lots more hot water later in the day we flip it on manually. It seems to save enough to make it worth while, but I am replacing the electric heater with a gas one (cheap at a garage sale) and then need to tie in some solar and wood fired heat too.
Jim (in Wis)
-- Jim (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 26, 2001.
I tried both the timer and the insulating blanket, go with the insulation it really makes a difference. Daryll
-- Daryll (email@example.com), April 26, 2001.
First is your water heater electric? If so then yes you can put a timer on it. The issue of will it save you money depends. on the location of the water heater, how well its insulated and how you use hot water. First issue is freezing. Any chance the water can freeze if left off? Is the heater in an unheated basement? If so then you do not want to turn it off. If you only use hot water at the same fixed time each day then you might be able to turn it off. Keep in mind that you have to heat the entire tank up each time from room tempature to your hot setting temp. If you leave it on, you only have to keep it hot. You cant just get a low cost timer to turn off the power. You need a 220v high current timer. These are not real expensive, but not cheap either.
You may find that getting a tankless heater is your best deal.Alothough a bit more expensive than traditional tanked heaters they are by design off most of the time untill needed. Again you have to look at the freeze issues.
-- Gary (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 26, 2001.
In order to save money with a timer you would have to super-insulate not only the heater, but all the pipes, too... I assume you've dropped the temp as far as safety permits (120 - 125) already. That's probably the most cost-effective thing you could do.
Insulating isn't all that bad an idea, but after costs, and with removal for repair or replacement, you'd spend more than you gain...
-- Sue Diederich (email@example.com), April 26, 2001.
Ok, this is just and idea. (I don't think you would save much by timer method.) If the water heater temp was reduced to... lets say 80 degrees. AND you had an inline heater installed on the other side- on demand only. Seems like this would be very efficient. Or, just do the old garden hose on the roof and make it almost free. I cut my water heater to 96 degrees (from orig. 135) and saved LOTS.
-- Kevin in NC (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 26, 2001.
Wow, thanks people ! So many responses and opinions here. Appreciate the time and effort to responding to the question. I think I'm going to try the insulation blanket first. Low cost (love that) and no electricity work involved (I sometimes think I am related to that Home Improvement guy Tim Taylor). Now if I can just talk my wife into knitting a water heater cozy for the heater . . . oh puddin', got a minute ? . . .
-- jr guerra (email@example.com), April 27, 2001.
Don't give up on the timer. You can find them at Lowe's, Home Depot etc. Called "The Little Gray Box" Easy to install. Saved us 10% a month in Tn. Put one on the tank here in Ky-same savings. Do use a blanket if temps warrant. Jim
-- Jim Deweese (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 28, 2001.
We used a timer on our water heater for 10 years. Our electric bill was reduced slightly. When the timer burned out, we went to manually turning the water heater on and off as needed. Our bill really went down. Two years ago I bought a used solar water heater panel for $100, a 24VDC pump,a 24VDC photovoltaic panel for $150 (to run the pump) and $25 worth of assorted copper pipe and fittings to hook the whole thing up. The cost of my sometimes almost too hot hot water since then has been $0.00. Granted, I live in Florida, where sunshine is abundant and I have to drain the system down overnight when a freeze is expected, but WOW!...absolutely free hot water. Our power bill has dropped to less than $60/mo. so I know that the system has long since paid for itself. Places which install solar water heaters are an excellent source of used components.
-- john james (email@example.com), April 29, 2001.
i had friends who put a timer on their water heater. i don't know how they did as far as money. when we built (i say that loosly since the house was 200 years old when we bought it) we put in an on demand hot water heater that uses propane to heat the water. there is no tank. it was expensive (when we did it the unit cost $500)but in the past six years we haven't paid over $30 a month for propane. we have a gas stove, a gas dryer and the on-demand hot water heater. i have recommended these before, they are great. they have used them in France for years and years and years.
-- Mary R. (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 29, 2001.