Timer for water heater to save energy/$?

JEDI

Lifer
Sep 25, 2001
30,160
3,300
126
i have a gas water heater.

noone's home between 8am - 5pm.

Do they make timers for water heaters? If so, how do i install it? There's no 'plug' the water heater plugs into, unlike the timer on my lights.

thx
 

DivideBYZero

Lifer
May 18, 2001
24,117
2
0
Yes. Most homes have hot water on timer, unless it's a system that provides hot water on demand.
 

Spike

Diamond Member
Aug 27, 2001
6,770
1
81
We have no timer on our gas water heater but in our case it's used for the heat (radiant heating) as well. They recommended that we leave the heat on a selected setting and not change it depending on when we are home or not since this type of heat does not handle that variance very well.
 

kalrith

Diamond Member
Aug 22, 2005
6,630
7
81
If you're going to be gone for days, then you can save on gas by turning off your water heater (just put it on pilot light). However, water heaters are so well insulated that it probably doesn't run in the 9 hours that you're gone anyways, so you would be spending money on a timer that would save you nothing.
 

spidey07

No Lifer
Aug 4, 2000
65,469
5
76
If you're going to be gone for days, then you can save on gas by turning off your water heater (just put it on pilot light). However, water heaters are so well insulated that it probably doesn't run in the 9 hours that you're gone anyways, so you would be spending money on a timer that would save you nothing.

Correct. You'd likely use MORE energy by shutting it off during the day.
 

Eli

Super Moderator | Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
50,422
8
81
Correct. You'd likely use MORE energy by shutting it off during the day.

This. Shutting your water heater off during the day just means it has to pick up the slack when it turns back on. If it saves you anything, it would be miniscule.
 
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Train

Lifer
Jun 22, 2000
13,861
68
91
www.bing.com
You'll likely lose money, or at best not save enough to pay for the timer.

If you want to save money on gas, get a tankless water heater. That will save you a few hundred a year.
 

zerocool84

Lifer
Nov 11, 2004
36,041
472
126
You'll likely lose money, or at best not save enough to pay for the timer.

If you want to save money on gas, get a tankless water heater. That will save you a few hundred a year.

I moved to tankless. Takes a little time for it to heat up the water but it saves a lot of $$$.
 

Gooberlx2

Lifer
May 4, 2001
15,381
6
91
I have a well insulated, direct vented on-demand gas water heater. Even in the coldest months my gas bills are pretty damn cheap compared to my past dwellings....never more than $100 and usually ~$70 in the winter.In the summer usually ~$16, never more than $20.
 

StageLeft

No Lifer
Sep 29, 2000
70,150
5
0
I'm sure it would save money but I'm also sure it would be so minute as to not be worth the effort and it would take an extremely long time to pay itself back. Perhaps if instead the money was put in an interest bearing account it would be possible to never pay itself back.

Timed heating/cooling is a proven money saver but unlike an entire house, which let to cool over a night saves money, the hot water tank is really just such a tiny portion of your bill I'd not bother.

I only used a tankless heater once and it sucked me raw. First it took about four hours to warm up and next it was constantly changing the temperature, it was impossible to take a shower. This was a new house. Hopefully they just installed it wrong. Those with tankless what's your experience other than waiting a while for it to warm up?

just wraps the sides? doesnt most heat escape from the top?
I think so. If I go downstairs now and touch my gas water heater--and it was as cheap a one as the builder could get away with--it will be completely cold to the touch but the line out of the top will be warm. Reviewer of that blanket said, which I doubt the accuracy of:

"I bought this heater blanket not thinking it would do to much, but I was surprisingly amazed. My gas bill on average for the year is approx. $23/month, but this month I could get an exact reading after installing the blanket and my bill is $16.03 I'll have this blanket paid off in 4 months!! Then everything else is just extra. Plus I only hear the heater cycle when I've taken a shower or one of the appliances are requesting hot water. Good buy!"
 
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Jeff7

Lifer
Jan 4, 2001
41,599
19
81
If you're going to be gone for days, then you can save on gas by turning off your water heater (just put it on pilot light). However, water heaters are so well insulated that it probably doesn't run in the 9 hours that you're gone anyways, so you would be spending money on a timer that would save you nothing.
I'd like to know if that's true or not.
If there's a larger thermal differential, the energy in the water tank is going to try harder to get through the insulation, ie. keeping the water hot will push more energy out.

Yes, it'll have to pick up the slack at the end of the day, but since the water was able to cool down a bit (energy which would have been leaking out anyway), that means that there was less potential difference trying to force energy through the insulation.

It's pretty much like electricity - if you have a high potential, even an insulator can become conductive for a short time.
With thermal energy, if you've got one thing that's 1000°C and another that's 0, the energy is really going to try to push through whatever insulator is in its way.


I just wonder how the math would all work out....and I'm too darned lazy to try assembling the equations. (I can hear my Heat Transfer professor crying right now.)


In any case, I don't know if it'd be worth it. My gas bill during the summer is somewhere around $15, which is for heating water and for cooking. Might there be a savings? Yeah, maybe, if the thermodynamics works out in that favor. Would it be noticeable? Maybe. Possibly. But I wouldn't really bet on it.
 
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ebaycj

Diamond Member
Mar 9, 2002
5,418
0
0
I'm sure it would save money but I'm also sure it would be so minute as to not be worth the effort and it would take an extremely long time to pay itself back. Perhaps if instead the money was put in an interest bearing account it would be possible to never pay itself back.

Timed heating/cooling is a proven money saver but unlike an entire house, which let to cool over a night saves money, the hot water tank is really just such a tiny portion of your bill I'd not bother.

I only used a tankless heater once and it sucked me raw. First it took about four hours to warm up and next it was constantly changing the temperature, it was impossible to take a shower. This was a new house. Hopefully they just installed it wrong. Those with tankless what's your experience other than waiting a while for it to warm up?

I think so. If I go downstairs now and touch my gas water heater--and it was as cheap a one as the builder could get away with--it will be completely cold to the touch but the line out of the top will be warm. Reviewer of that blanket said, which I doubt the accuracy of:

Could be true if you had a really crappy older-than-dirt water heater. Probably not accurate for most "last 5-7 years" models.

I know a buddy of mine has a 45 year old water heater in his cabin (yes it still works, probably due to a 25% duty cycle and proper draining). I bet a blanket would probably help that thing out.
 

DrPizza

Administrator Elite Member Goat Whisperer
Mar 5, 2001
49,606
166
111
www.slatebrookfarm.com
Regardless of whether you get an insulation blanket for the water heater, insulate the first couple of feet of hot water line coming out of the tank.
 

Bignate603

Lifer
Sep 5, 2000
13,897
1
0
Correct. You'd likely use MORE energy by shutting it off during the day.

Um, no. Just no.

That's the same as people claiming that you don't save money when you turn off your AC when you aren't there because it has to 'work harder' when you come back.
 

JEDI

Lifer
Sep 25, 2001
30,160
3,300
126
Regardless of whether you get an insulation blanket for the water heater, insulate the first couple of feet of hot water line coming out of the tank.

1) why only the 1st couple of feet?

2) how much does it matter if only the 1st couple of feet are insulated when the next 50feet to the 1st floor show isnt?
 

Kelemvor

Lifer
May 23, 2002
16,930
7
81
What? I've never even heard of having hot water on a timer and have never seen a hot water heater that has a timer.

Same here.

I use a programmable thermostat but not water heater. Like others said, if I'm gone for an extended period of time I turn it down but that's very rare.

If you're that worried about it, get a tankless water heater.
 

OverVolt

Lifer
Aug 31, 2002
14,278
89
91
just wraps the sides? doesnt most heat escape from the top?

It's still effective. You are correct, most heat escapes from the top. I guess there are laws against covering the top of a gas-burning appliance with flammable insulation. How silly of them. :D
 

LTC8K6

Lifer
Mar 10, 2004
28,520
1,575
126
Electric water heaters commonly have timers. There are specific "water heater timers". They don't save as much as people think, mainly because modern water heaters are well insulated, and commonly also have blankets, so they really are not using power as much as people seem to think.

I have no experience with gas fired water heaters.
 

Vette73

Lifer
Jul 5, 2000
21,503
8
0
Yea its eaiser to do these 3 things to save more money and cost less...

1. insulate the pipes. get the basic foam, runs about $1 for 6ft or so. And put that on your warm pipes. i did that with all mine, including inside the wall.

2. Water heater heat trap. These are 2 Dielectric Nipples that will cut the flow of heat out of the water heater into the water lines when not being used.
http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1...atalogId=10053

3. and you can also wrap the WH. Just make sure for gas WHs that you cut open any slots for the air to enter the gas area on the bottom and don't cover the top.


Those 3 things will probable do as much or more then a WH timer in your case and be cheaper and easier to install.
 
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