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Old 03-15-2012, 12:38 PM   #1
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re: electric water heater & high electric bills


Hello.
my electricity bills have been sky high for as long as i have been keeping track of them (less than 2 years). i finally decided to try to track down the culprit. I bought a watt meter to find phatom loads. I found some and took care of them

However,
The electric hot water tank has got me thinking. Could this be the cause of high utility bills? The tank itself is ancient (RHEEM). By the way it is rented from the utility company. it is hard to tell the age because there is no date stamp, and the model number does not come up on the internet at all. If i were to guess, maybe 25 years easily. It functions in that I get hot water no problem

1. Is it possible that the electric HWT consumes way more energy than it should?, and how?
2. Is there a way to track the usage? My utility company installed a smart meter last year, and required an upgrade to get a new circiut breaker panel from old fuses
thanks

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Last edited by gramps416; 03-15-2012 at 12:41 PM.
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Old 03-15-2012, 01:30 PM   #2
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re: electric water heater & high electric bills


How much does it cost to rent that thing??

25 years is a looong time for a water heater.

Turn all the breakers of, except the water heater and check the meter.

Turn on the hot water and then check the heater.

If you have no hot water issues, it is hard to think you have a peoblem with the heater.

Are you on city water or well water?

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Old 03-15-2012, 02:23 PM   #3
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re: electric water heater & high electric bills


In most areas electric water heaters cost somewhat more than gas water heaters in terms of amount of hot water produced, all other things being equal.

Check for leaks (or dripping faucets) in the hot water portion of the plumbing system. This will greatly increase the cost of water heating.

If the water heater is old, it may have less efficient insulation. A fiber glass blanket intended for the purpose can be wrapped around the heater. (For gas water heaters, cut away the blanket around the bottom vents and the top flue.)

Aside from tank insulation issues I do not think an old electric water heater uses more energy than a new one, all other things being equal.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 03-15-2012 at 02:33 PM.
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Old 03-15-2012, 02:29 PM   #4
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re: electric water heater & high electric bills


In my home, the biggest users of electricity are:
1. Well pump
2. Hot water heater
3. Refrigerator

They says that the average life of a hot water heater is 10-12 years. Ours is now 20 years old. I did replace the elements about 12 years ago.

What temperature do you have it set at? If an element is burned out and you turned up the temperature, you will use more electricity.
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Old 03-15-2012, 04:36 PM   #5
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re: electric water heater & high electric bills


Quote:
How much does it cost to rent that thing??
$12/month

Quote:
Turn all the breakers of, except the water heater and check the meter.
a good idea, but the issue is, i cant actually tell if the heating elements are fireing when they shouldn't. you don't see anything when it is working. to get accurate results, i would need to do this for an extended period of time, which isn't really possible in an occupied house

Quote:
Are you on city water or well water?
city

Quote:
In most areas electric water heaters cost somewhat more than gas water heaters in terms of amount of hot water produced, all other things being equal.
true, but the extra price i am paying is maybe 2x or twice what i should be paying, the difference in tech does not account fo rthis.

Quote:
Check for leaks (or dripping faucets) in the hot water portion of the plumbing system. This will greatly increase the cost of water heating.
This is interesting. I wonder if it is something i cannot see.

Quote:
If the water heater is old, it may have less efficient insulation. A fiber glass blanket intended for the purpose can be wrapped around the heater. (For gas water heaters, cut away the blanket around the bottom vents and the top flue.)
I think this is something of years past, even before mine. the tank is cool to the touch. I think insulating was included in this model.

Quote:
Aside from tank insulation issues I do not think an old electric water heater uses more energy than a new one, all other things being equal.
this is interesting. I guess a heating coil is just a heating coil

Quote:
What temperature do you have it set at? If an element is burned out and you turned up the temperature, you will use more electricity.
never touched it. this does effect, but one or two degrees is negligible.

I wonder if it is my furnace motor. it is new, but the HVAC guy could only hook up the thermostat to three wires instead of four. he said the result was when the fan is running, it will run at full speed.
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Old 03-15-2012, 05:38 PM   #6
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re: electric water heater & high electric bills


A point of reference would help in understanding what exactly you are chasing. Your electricity bills are high compared to what? What they used to be in same house? A previous house? Your neighbor?
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Old 03-15-2012, 05:39 PM   #7
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re: electric water heater & high electric bills


Quote:
Originally Posted by gramps416 View Post
$12/month.
That doesn't seem like a good deal at all. That's $144/year for something that's worth about $800 (at the WAY upper end, including installation). That's 18% annual ROI, and it's an ancient heater that's probably costing you a lot in wasted energy too. You could buy a brand new heater, have it installed, and carry the balance on a credit card forever and it would probably cost less!
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Old 03-15-2012, 05:57 PM   #8
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re: electric water heater & high electric bills


Does your water meter have a "second hand" or a spinner that moves visibly when you just let water trickle? When no one is using water for several hours, see if this spinner moves. This will verify whether you have leaks in the plumbing. Do the test with the shutoff valve above the water heater turned off also.
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Old 03-15-2012, 07:36 PM   #9
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re: electric water heater & high electric bills


Quote:
Does your water meter have a "second hand" or a spinner that moves visibly when you just let water trickle? When no one is using water for several hours, see if this spinner moves. This will verify whether you have leaks in the plumbing. Do the test with the shutoff valve above the water heater turned off also.
i think i will give this a try

Quote:
at doesn't seem like a good deal at all. That's $144/year for something that's worth about $800 (at the WAY upper end, including installation). That's 18% annual ROI, and it's an ancient heater that's probably costing you a lot in wasted energy too. You could buy a brand new heater, have it installed, and carry the balance on a credit card forever and it would probably cost less!
i didn't realize it was such a bad deal, maybe i will replace it anyways.

thanks for the advice people!
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Old 03-16-2012, 07:24 PM   #10
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re: electric water heater & high electric bills


a 25 year old water heater will consume more electricity compare to a new water heater to heat up the same amount of water. The reason to this is because as the water heater getting old the heating elements were getting coated with dirts, rust ,etc.. this insulates the immersion heating elements thus reducing the efficiency of tranferring heat by the heating element to the water. I think its time for new one .
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Old 03-16-2012, 10:42 PM   #11
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re: electric water heater & high electric bills


When the old water heater consumes more watt-hours of electricity, its elements must produce more BTU's of heat, compared with a new water heater. What happens to that extra heat. Remember that energy can be neither created nor destroyed (the law of conservation of energy).
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Old 03-16-2012, 10:49 PM   #12
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re: electric water heater & high electric bills


Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
When the old water heater consumes more watt-hours of electricity, its elements must produce more BTU's of heat, compared with a new water heater. What happens to that extra heat. Remember that energy can be neither created nor destroyed (the law of conservation of energy).

OK...I think I know what you are saying....but school has been over for 40+ years for me....so spill it.
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Old 03-16-2012, 10:51 PM   #13
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re: electric water heater & high electric bills


If you are paying rent on the thing, shouldn't they replace it?
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Old 03-16-2012, 10:59 PM   #14
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re: electric water heater & high electric bills


Gramps...don't know where you live but Jbfan hit the nail on the head. Utilities that rent water heaters to you also provide free service and free replacement. Check into it.
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Old 03-17-2012, 01:18 AM   #15
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re: electric water heater & high electric bills


Hot water heaters do use a fair bit of electricity !
A medium sized system will use close to 2000w.

So depending on the size of your system,
and the amount of hot water used,
yes it will use a good amount of electricity.

You can always use less hot water.
Or you could have leaks.

check both !

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