View Full Version : Electric Water Heater Timer

03-28-2010, 10:30 AM
While reading the March issue of VLIFE magazine I noticed an article on suggestions to conserve energy and save money. One of the suggestions was to add a timer to your electric hot water heater. The article claims electric savings of up to $60 per month by turning off the power to the water heater for 8 hours a day. While I have doubts about that kind of savings the idea of even $10 - $20 per month savings on an investment that might run $50 or so does catch my attention.

So I am curious to see if anyone has put a timer onto their hot water heater and if so did you do it yourself and what kind of savings are you seeing in your electric bill? Thanks for the help.

09-07-2010, 09:42 PM
It's been 5 months since your post. I am wondering if you put a timer on your HW tank. If so, what are the savings?

09-08-2010, 12:37 PM
It's been 5 months since your post. I am wondering if you put a timer on your HW tank. If so, what are the savings?

No, I have not installed one as yet. I have done some research and found the cost to be between $40 and $75 for most models. Most of those can be installed by the homeowner but I can not get a good idea of the cost savings. At any rate even if the savings is only $10 per month I do think it is probably worth the investment. But we are going to have a SECO energy audit, probably in October, so I was waiting to see what they had to say before we moved forward with timer.

Rag Bagger
09-09-2010, 08:54 AM
I think it would be significant. It would really be a plus if you could add an on off over ride switch so that you could turn the hot water heater off for times that you leave for a week end or vacations.

We have a gas fired heater. As far as I know our only option is to turn it down. Which is what we do when we are going away but that's not practical on a day to day program. But the pilot is still on so it is not as significant of a savings. To turn it all the way off and kill the pilot is too much trouble when re-lighting. I am really surprised that these new gas fired heaters don't use a spark ignition. Our furnace does. I think that continuous pilot cost us at least $20.00/Month.

09-09-2010, 11:07 AM
If you have an electric water heater, you can just flip the breaker when you leave for an extended time.

Rag ****** - is the $20/mo. the fee to run the pilot or is that the minimum for the gas co?

09-09-2010, 12:50 PM
I would question whether there would be significant savings turning a water heater off 8 hours per day. During the time the heater was off, the water would cool. When you turn it back on, the heater has to heat ALL the water back to the set temp. If it was left on, the heater would run only to maintain the water in the tank at the set temp. We found at our previous house that we got better savings from a blanket around our water heater.

09-09-2010, 02:40 PM
I installed a timer years ago along with an insulation blanket made for hot water heaters. It did cut the bill by about 15 bucks per month. I don't know if they still manufacture insulation blankets for water heaters or not, but when used in combo with a timer, we never noticed any difference in water temps and never ran out of hot water. This was back in the mid-80's.

09-09-2010, 03:23 PM
I did not mean to turn the heater off for a day. I meant if you're going to be gone for a week or so. Turning it off for a day would not be a good thing to do.

09-09-2010, 04:57 PM
This is one of my soap box issues, so here goes. I lived in Europe for many years and witnessed first hand how they heat water. It is light years ahead of us. They use on demand, tankless heating. This country says we want to be green, but staring us right in the face is an answer that would save countless of millions of BTU of energy each year if it were intuited, but no we have new light bulbs that can not even throw away in your garbage because they are toxic waste and if you put them in your garbage you could go to jail. Anyway back to the water heater. I have put 5 of these units into homes overt the last 10 years. Home Depot sells the ones I use. Made by Bosch, they attach to the wall and are about the size of an airline carry on bag. They have no electrics attached, only natural gas or propane. The ignition is started by a small generator in the water line and the unit produces hot water as long as the tap is on. When it is not in use it just sits there using no energy at all. Good for about 20 years, no tank to rust out, no energy use when you are away, no requirement to turn on/off, and maintenance free. We use maybe 20 to 30 minutes of hot water in a 24 hour period, but we heat it for the entire 24. We moved into a section of The Villages without natural gas which I believe is cheaper than LPG, but I still will be changing out our current electric hot water with one of these units run on LPG soon. Cost about $600-700. Not cheap I know but the savings over 10 or 20 years will make it back on top of the fact that you never run out of hot water. I have not come up with a good electric model in the States, as they have 240 volt service in Europe which gives them the ability to have 480 volt electric heaters (whereas we only have 120 volt giving us 2440 volt). The water will scald you if you move the knob past the safety on every shower knob. Do yourself a favor and check it out. There are many different brands available. The one at Home Depot fit my purposes. Soap box done, hope this was food for thought. Quill

09-09-2010, 05:20 PM
I have always wanted to have a tankless water heater, but did not realize that one could be used for whole house. I thought youhad to have one at each HW tap. Does it take long for the HW to reach the farthest tap? Will you have to have an exhaust for the water heater? I am definitely interested in such a device.

09-09-2010, 09:21 PM
It can be vented either horizontally or vertically. Home Depot up north had a cut away of the unit showing the unit and how it is to be mounted and connected. Do not know if they have it down here. Check out this web sight


I used the Aqua Star 125FX. The FX has an internal fan that forces the exhaust out, thereby allowing for the horizontal venting.

The unit does quite well for a home. And it takes the same amount of time to get water to you shower as it does now. There is I believe 115,000 BTU kicking in when you turn on the faucet. Think of it as a big Bunsen burner kicking in. And as soon as the faucet is turned off it quits.

09-10-2010, 07:06 AM
That looks very good. But, the specs say it will provide HW to 1 outlet at a time. That means you couldn't take a shower while someone was showering (in another bathroom) and you could not use the dishwasher or wash clothes at the same time. That's why I said earlier that I thought you needed one at each faucet or at least each bathroom.

09-10-2010, 08:41 AM
I can only relate my experience with these units and it has been very good. As for how many showers you can take at once, I turn other things off when I take a shower on my current electric heater. There is only 2 of us, so we do not often take a shower at the time. I do know that no matter how long a shower I take with the AquaStar there will always be hot water for my other half when they are in the shower. That is not always the case with the standard electric hot water heater. I would question whether you now have enough water pressure to handle multiple things running and take a shower. Try running 2 showers with your current system and see how it goes, and check what your flow rate is with both going. You can then check it against what the documents say about flow rates for the Aqua Star. The benefits as far as I am concerned for the heater far outweigh not being able to take multiple showers at once, if that turns out to be the case. You could always just shower with your other half... Good luck

09-10-2010, 09:27 AM
I worked at Lowes and HD for a while and I know that they make units designed to allow multiple areas used at once (like 1 shower, 1 dishwasher at the same time or even 1 shower, 1 dishwasher and 1 washing machine at the same time). It's all in the btu output and of course the price.

09-10-2010, 09:40 AM
Thanks for the input. We have in the past taken showers at the same time in separate bathrooms and there is plenty of pressure here. (have been known to do so in the same bathroom too) I will have ot check into these when we get moved.

Quill - Did you do the installation yourself? The link you provided said there was a 12 year warranty when installed professionally.

Thanks again.

Talk Host
09-10-2010, 11:14 AM
Here is the whole house water heater we use. It has never failed to provide adequate hot water for every application. Last New Years weekend, we had 10 people here as guests and each had an adequate supply. I think the unit was around $1,300 installed. It uses next to no gas. I think less than $30 per month. The water arrives hot at the tap in the same length of time as a tank heater.




09-10-2010, 11:45 AM
TH - I assume you are in a section of TV that has gas. Do you know if the unit you have will operate on LPG? Where did you get it? We will be building in Pennecamp and I think I read somewhere that the new houses are total electric, so NG may not be an option.

Talk Host
09-10-2010, 12:02 PM
TH - I assume you are in a section of TV that has gas. Do you know if the unit you have will operate on LPG? Where did you get it? We will be building in Pennecamp and I think I read somewhere that the new houses are total electric, so NG may not be an option.

This is an LPG unit.

http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&rh=n%3A3754791%2Cp_4%3ANORITZ%2Cp_n_power_source_b rowse-bin%3A542716011&page=1

09-10-2010, 12:42 PM
They also make electric on demand hot water heaters. You do not need to be gas. Or am I missing something?

09-10-2010, 02:31 PM
I installed them myself. I never had any problem with warranty issues with Aquastar. I did have a problem with one unit, that Aquastar promptly sent me parts for with out any questions. As far as the length of warranty it may be 12 years I do not know. But I believe that it will be much greater than that given the fact there is nothing to them. The tank is the biggest thing to fail on regular heaters and with no tank, not much else to go wrong.

As far as NG vs LPG, you must specify when purchasing the unit. I have had both with no difference in performance.

As far as electric, I have used point of use under a sink, but as I said in my first post I have not found a whole house unit that is electric or even one that could be used for a shower here in the states. There is just not enough current (voltage) available on a line here in the states to heat the water flow that would be required for a whole house or shower unit. If someone finds one let me know. But I just do not think it would be very energy efficient.

Bottom lined with me and these units. They sit quietly by while not in use and when needed give unlimited supply of hot water. I believe in them and believe if anything should be law these should. And I do not like the government being involved in anything.

A house I built years ago did not have hot water running to the sinks. I had point of use electric units for the sinks and the Aquastar for the showers, and washer. The dish washer heated it's own water. I cut down on water waste by having instant hot at the sinks and energy by having Aquastar heaters in the house. Again good luck and I think it is well worth looking into.

09-10-2010, 02:41 PM
I am no expert here, but I have installed three of these units. I use Takagi brand TK-3 model. They come for either propane or natural gas. You need to first determine your peak GPM usage, and also your temperature rise. In Florida that would not be as high as up north.
One thing to know is that you need 3/4" inlet for Natural Gas.....a tank unit usually only needs a 1/2" gas line.

For an electric tankless water heater, you need your main service to be 200 amp minimum. The ones I have seen take THREE double pole 40 amp breakers...that is a lot of electricity.

One minor downside to these heaters is if you lose power, you have no reserve hot water. Also, they are quite complex on the inside, so if a lightning strike blows a circuit board, you could be without hot water until you can get another circuit board installed, as they are much more complicated then a standard water tank.

BTW, to the poster who asked about pilotless gas water heaters....they do make them.

Here is a picture of one I recently installed;

Note that this was up north, thus it was in a basement. One more comment. I notice that in Florida many times you cannot see the end of your T&P valve extension. Code states you must be able to see it, so you can tell if it is leaking. I could not tell for sure, but the picture of the one in an earlier post does not look like it terminates in the same room, 6" or less from the floor, as code specifies.


09-10-2010, 02:46 PM
Ok this is beyond strange, I just logged off TOTV and staring me in the face (TOTV add) is


Titan N-160 Whole house tankless electric water heaters. Go figure. So I guess there is such a thing, but I will have to do some research on it. It requires

16KW- 66 amps- 1 double pole 70 amp breaker required. 1, 6/2 wire line

to run. As I had a 250 gallon propane tank put in when we built I will put in an LPG unit before another electric unit. My feeling is that I get more bang for my buck with LPG than electric. Do not start with the I think Electric is better argument, I just think, gas and or LPG gives more bang for the buck than electric does in relationship to cost. Having an LPG unit when the power is out will also give me hot water when the power is out, if the water is still running. Good luck.

09-10-2010, 05:36 PM
Quill - are you planning to install a 250 gal LPG tank in TV? I doubt that will pass with the powers that be.

Lots of food for thoght here.

09-10-2010, 07:17 PM
Already have it, unless I am mistaken, although 95% sure, we had it up sized when we built the house. Buried in the yard.

09-10-2010, 09:20 PM
It's good to know that you abide by the 7 P's.

09-11-2010, 07:36 AM
TMI.......Since I am getting a new heater with my new house I think I will just wrap (insulate) it and wait a few years to see if technology brings us a practical electric on-demand water heater.

09-18-2010, 07:41 PM
As a suggestion, you'll want to measure the flow rates of the points of use that will be served by the tankless heater. You can get smaller units that are intended to just serve a single point of use - larger ones are available for serving a whole house.

I got a bit of an education on these a few years back when we built a new home (in OH). The sticking point ended up being the fact that we were going to have a large roman/soaker tub. The flow rate for the faucet would quickly exceed the ability of a small point of use heater to keep up. (Some faucets will flow a surprising volume of water!) So we would have wound up having a large tankless heater to handle the bulk of the house and a separate one to serve the tub.........which would be rarely used but we didn't want the hot water volume to be an issue when it was going to be used. Cost started becoming the concern so we reverted back to a standard water heater tank in the basement - better safe than sorry! :smiley: Our water heater tank is also served by the geothermal heating system we installed (with a gas-fired supplemental furnace) so that helps a good bit with keeping the water in the tank up to temp. And our largest monthly gas bill since we moved in two years ago has been $52 in the dead of winter in OH. I don't know that any concept of cost savings, at least in our case, would have been worth the additional up-front cost of the tankless heaters. Our case is perhaps unique............yours might differ.

Conclusion: Check the flow rates for the fixtures that you want the heater(s) to serve - and also check into what the potential energy cost savings could actually amount to.


10-12-2010, 10:14 AM
It's been 5 months since your post. I am wondering if you put a timer on your HW tank. If so, what are the savings?

Bob, A follow up to your question. We had a SECO energy audit done yesterday and found it very helpful. It is possible we can reduce our yearly electrical costs by maybe 18% if we follow all suggestions, but that is my calculation based on our bills.

In regards to the water heater timer SECO does recommend one being installed. The auditor suggested only having the water heater come on in the am for 2 - 4 hours and at 120 degrees. If we did that we then could realize a savings of about 50% of what the tag on the water heater says. The tag on our heater estimates a yearly cost of $520 to operate it but the suggested timer could cut that to about $250 or so. Only problem with that is we prefer the temp at 140 so our savings will be slightly less. We do plan on installing one but probably will not do it until after the 1st of the year.

11-25-2012, 03:07 PM
I just want to offer my experiences with one of these and it has not been good. My home is 4 years old and my builder recommended and installed a Navien tankless hot water heater. It used propane gas. (we have just replaced it with an electric model with a tank) There was nothing but trouble with this item since the day I moved in. Navien actually replaced the entire unit one time; the computerized panel on that unit was replaced as well as some other parts. For one thing, no one could get it to burn in such a way that the odor outside could not be smelled from the street - and my technician(s) always called and did work while talking with Navien directly.

Aside from these issues, I wonder how much energy savings there really is. My home is small (55' x 42') so the hot water didn't have that far to travel to any faucet. But before the heater even turned on 1/2 gallon of water had to run through it. Then it would start to heat. Now it still had to push cool/cold water through the line before you got warm water to wash your hands etc. So we put water restrictors on our shower heads and in our faucets then we install a product like this that wastes all of this water every time we open a faucet??

I also wonder if my laundry was EVER washed with warm water. The way my front loader works seems to be to draw a little water, stop, agitate and repeat. I really don't think any of those draws asking for warm water was long enough to actually GET warm water. This also would seem to be an issue with the dishwasher.

This particular model had other issues but I don't know if they were particular to this model or all tankless models in general. In theory, they sound great. Maybe this one is just over engineered.

Hope this information helps someone.