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Thread: Water Heater Timer

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
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    Bella Vista, AR
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    Water Heater Timer

    Not sure if this goes in the "Off Topic" forum or "Workshops" forum. Our new-to-us home in NW Arkansas is about 16 years old. The water heater 30A electrical circuit goes from the subpanel, to a Paragon Model 4001 timer, to the water heater. We don't use the timer. I removed the timer's On/Off trip tabs.

    I'm doing some workshop rewiring. If there's little or no benefit having the timer, I'd like to remove the timer - the tick-tick-ticking is annoying. Do those of you that have water heater timers realize financial benefit by having a timer? Or, no big deal, remove the timer? We occupy the house year round. The water heater is a temperature-controlled area.
    Loran Galey
    Do good and be good and you will be happy.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    New Westminster BC
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    I assume the purpose of the timer is to prevent the heater from coming on when electrical rates are high (assuming you have variable rate billing). Typically variable rates are low after midnight when demand is low and high during the day when demand is high. So if you have variable rates, shower, wash dishes etc. only in the middle of the night or your heater is large enough that it can supply hot water all day without coming on, then I guess you could save but first time you don't have hot water you will likely regret it.
    Maybe you could repurpose the timer to prevent something in the shop like an air compressor from coming on in the middle of the night (in case of a hose failure).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    When rates are high, turning off an electric water heater during those times when there's little chance of any demand (during the work day and week hours of the night, for example) can indeed save some money, but it's not "yuge" because bringing the water back up to temperature has a cost, too.

    The same is true for HVAC thermostats...we've never used that feature here because for over two decades, there's always been someone home because of virtual office, etc.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  4. #4
    I had one of those timers when I lived in a different place. Never thought it did any good. If it did, the difference was small.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Waterford, PA
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    Yes, the timers can save you a serious amount of money, depending on the rate structure of your electric utility. When I was young and broke, the timer for my HW heater died, and I couldn't afford to replace it. So I'd go to the basement in the evening and turn the HW Heater on and then go down in the morning again to turn it off. I actually learned that a single person household could get by running it every other night unless doing laundry or running the dishwasher.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Millstone, NJ
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    280
    Havent calculated the savings but we keep house at 68 and raise to 72 5-10 pm and 6-8 am. Temps are a little high for me but have little kids. all of the temps are livable especially with blankets at night and the sun during the day.

    As for the heat timer on the water heater, if you have a super cheap unit the insulation wont keep it warm so it will cool off and you will have to heat it from scratch which may negate any savings. If you have a better unit it will have thicker insulation and allow the water to hold heat so that it cost less to heat back up.
    I think tanks can be externally insulated just make sure not to cover any intakes or vents. and I would search for a product that is designed for the application.

  7. #7
    As for heat losses, we have a gas water heater. Unit is 22 years old. When we go on a trip, I always turn it to pilot, plus turn off water inlet in case of rupture while we are gone. Upon return, turn water back on and set control from pilot to heat. Seldom does unit fire up, as it hasn't lost enough heat over several days.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    McKean, PA
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    13,414
    We have a timer on ours and it used to help save cost because there used to be an off peak rate and special meters that tracked on peak and off peak use. Because we are total electric including all our heat. Once they did away with the off peak rates I disabled the timer by removing the tabs. We also use our dryer during the day instead of at night because it doesn't make any difference to our bill.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
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    Cambridge Vermont
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    My father had one that was provided and installed by the power company. They gave him a $2(ish) credit each month. I don't know if it was a simple timer or if it was controlled by the power company and could be turned off by them when demand was high.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Zeller View Post
    My father had one that was provided and installed by the power company. They gave him a $2(ish) credit each month. I don't know if it was a simple timer or if it was controlled by the power company and could be turned off by them when demand was high.
    I know that some power companies have programs where they can turn off your air conditioning to reduce the load on the grid and you'll get a credit on your bill. Probably the same for water heaters.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Modesto, CA, USA
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    They now make water heaters with wifi and bluetooth so you can control them from your phone.
    Bill D

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Dufour View Post
    They now make water heaters with wifi and bluetooth so you can control them from your phone.
    Bill D
    Just about any appliance you can think of is available with WiFi/BT these days...I mean, you can watch the SuperBowl on your fridge while you make a Bowl of SuperBowl Soup. I was looking at the specificaitons for a very nice induction range last night and there's a BT accessory that provides very precise temperature control to a pot of liquid not unlike Sous Vide. The wand talks to the range and adjusts the induction "burner" automagically to maintain things.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Bella Vista, AR
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    Thank you for your responses. Mystery solved. I called our electric coop. "Back in the day" customer's were given a billing credit for having a water heater timer and "Relm" monitoring unit. Both are obsolete and can be removed from the water heater circuit.
    Loran Galey
    Do good and be good and you will be happy.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    Devices like that monitoring thing have been replaced by stuff like separate off-peak meters for certain devices. The home we are in process of buying has one of those with circuits for the water heater, dryer, etc., segregated in a separate panel.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

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