Water Heater Timer Project

I installed a timer on our electric water heater as my weekend project:

Material

Cost

GE 15207 Hot Water Heater Timer

$40.96

3/8" Clamp Connectors

$1.65

10/2 wire (3 ft)

$3.48

Total:

$46.09

A couple years ago I participated in a pilot program with our local electric company using a Smart Monitoring system that allowed me to monitor and control our electrical usage to major devices. For us it was our heat pump, furnace, and electric water heater. The big take away for me from the program was how much our electric water heater was costing us. While I didn't store the data, I roughly recall that our water heater was costing us around an average of $45+/mo (and upwards of $80+ during the cold winter months). I felt during the winter months we could be saving an average of $10-$20/mo off our electric bill by using a timer to turn the heater off for overnight hours (6hrs/day).

Once the pilot program ended I've had it on my to do list to install a water heater timer. While in Home Depot the other day I saw some timers on clearance and grabbed one.

I found a few sites that were very helpful for installation including this water heater timer installation video and this site dedicated to water heater timers. It took me about 2 hours to install and didn't run into any issues when setting it up.

My plan is to have the water heater off from midnight to 6AM (1/4th of the time). Based on my anticedocal experience with our house, I'm expecting this will reduce our annual electric bill a minimum of $40-$80/yr.

Here is a previous post of other energy savings improvements I've completed.

Anyone else have personal experience with water heater timers?

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Comments (8)


I think you are going to find that the timer is a major inconvenience.

It's going to take an hour using approx. 4000 watts just to reheat the water from the heat loss. I would not think it's energy efficient to turn it off for that short of time.

You would save more by turning down the temp and reducing the amount of hot water being heated...Buying a timer for the shower for your kids. You would save 10-gallons of heated water per 10-minute shower using a Niagra 1.5 gpm shower head. Wash clothes in cold water save about 20-gallons of hot water. Front Loaders save 25-gallons of heated water per wash.

There's 4x of us in this household and hot water runs about $25-30 month.

What about using a tankless water heater? Would that not be better

^A lot of good advice from John above.

The timer's efficacy increases with the amount of time the boiler is off (cycling it on/off multiple times is like mimicking the function of the thermostat).

I'd recommend having it off from say 10 pm and then activating it one hour before you need it for your morning shower. Then I would set the timer off after 8 till an hour before you return home.

I am very interested to hear if this regimen helps.

Goodluck!

What happens if you need to take a shower and the heater is off...burrrrr

I installed a Rinnai RU80i tankless water heater about two years ago, best investment I have made so far. It has already paid for itself, cut my electric bill by at least 40%. Now we only heat the water we use when we use it, also I installed a shower faucet that remembers the temperature that we like so we only have to turn on the hot water, that way we don't pay to heat the water and then cool it down by turning on the cold water. We set the Rinnai to 115 degrees which is fine and then simply turn on the Hot water in the shower no cold water is used/wasted at all. Once a year I flush the tank with White Vinegar to keep the burner clean, very easy to do, saves $ on a service call for something that is very easy to do.

I have our timer currently set to only cut the water heater out during overnight hours as I have a wife and 2 young children in the house most of the day. For those with an empty house during business hours I think they could yield even more savings.

I can always flip the switch on the timer and leave the water heater on if we know we are going to have an off schedule (wake up earlier than usual), but agree if something unexpected pops up it means I need to run to the timer and give it some time to reheat before we take a shower.

Like the idea of a tankless water heater, certainly would reduce energy costs, but don't think the energy savings outweighs the initial capital investment. When the water needs to be replaced will definitely be evaluating the tankless option. How much did it cost for a tankless water heater replacement for anyone who has done it?

How customizable is the timer? Can you, for example, set it to turn on later on the weekend?

Ryan,
Depends on the timer. I bought a low end one - it runs a 24 hour cycle; I believe some are more programmable like a thermostat.

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