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Old 01-14-2013, 07:02 PM   #1
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Is a Hot Water Heater Timer Worth It?


Hi,

I have two houses about 250 miles apart, which I split time between. A typical pattern is something like 3 weeks in one house then 3 weeks in the other. When I'm not at a house, it is empty. I realize that it doesn't make sense to pay to heat water for the 3 weeks that I'm not there. So, I was considering installing timers on both water heaters and in addition to the normal savings, they would have the added benefit of giving me an easy way to turn the heater off as I was leaving one house for the other.

But having read through a bunch of old threads on this site,the consensus seems to be that with modern, well insulated water heaters, times don't really seem to save that much money. So the only real benifit I'd have would be the easy off/on switch, which would still be pretty handy. But it occurs to me that it might be just as easy to flip the breaker on the circuit as I'm leaving one house for the other. Is there any downside to doing this?

Thanks and apologies for rambling.

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Old 01-14-2013, 07:49 PM   #2
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Is a Hot Water Heater Timer Worth It?


Just hit the breakers you do not use. They do this sort of things in other countries regularly. From a green prospective I would say just leave everything exactly as it would be normally. Do not turn the water heater down, you will lose when the water needs to be heated back up. In the long run when you go to changing things is when items wear out faster than if just left alone. You should be fine in turning the furnace down.

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Old 01-14-2013, 08:47 PM   #3
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Is a Hot Water Heater Timer Worth It?


Yes i would diffidently recommend it or a 240 switch. avoid using the breakers repeated turning them on and off weakens the the heat template inside thus reducing the amperage, thus tripping breakers or failure, i have been told this by several master electrician they are not switch rated ?? makes sense though. i personally have a timer on mine on at 6am off at 9am on at 5pm off at 11 pm save about 80 bucks a month. again all depends on the hot water usage in the home.
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Old 01-15-2013, 06:16 AM   #4
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Is a Hot Water Heater Timer Worth It?


If I was in your situation I would probably just lower both water heater thermostats to the lowest comfortable settings somewhere around 120o. And then leave them both on.
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Old 01-16-2013, 01:22 PM   #5
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Just hit the breakers you do not use. Do not turn the water heater down,
How is hitting the breaker any different from turning the thermostat down, when it comes time to warm the water back up? Seems like both will result in the same efficiency (or lack thereof).

Anyway, I'm with Javiles, apparently breakers start to nuisance-trip if used repeatedly as switches. I'd just turn the water heater's thermostat down as low as it goes.
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Old 01-16-2013, 01:32 PM   #6
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Is a Hot Water Heater Timer Worth It?


Only problem with dropping the temp, is it allows bacteria to grow in the tank.
Here is a link to read up on it.
http://www.ehow.com/facts_7182857_ho...-bacteria.html
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Old 01-16-2013, 04:43 PM   #7
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Is a Hot Water Heater Timer Worth It?


No problem dropping the temp around 120o. Lots of water heaters operating at that set point. Mine is one of them 22 years.

OH! Forgot one last comment I'm not drinking it. And it could be a problem with well water who knows what's in that.
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Last edited by COLDIRON; 01-16-2013 at 04:48 PM. Reason: adding a comment
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Old 01-17-2013, 01:33 AM   #8
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Is a Hot Water Heater Timer Worth It?


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No problem dropping the temp around 120o. Lots of water heaters operating at that set point. Mine is one of them 22 years.

OH! Forgot one last comment I'm not drinking it. And it could be a problem with well water who knows what's in that.
Setting the tank to 120F increases the risk of you getting sick from legionella bacteria. Usually the very young, very old and someone with a depressed immune system would be at the highest risk from it. And it has to be breathed into the lungs to get sick, normally only when you shower or possibly from an aerator on a sink. Depends how much risk you want, 120 is a decent temp though, the bacteria in the water don't multiply at that. Personally, I wouldn't go lower. I set mine at 140 and mix it down. YMMV.
To the OP's question, depending on the tank and set up the stand by losses could be really low. I wouldn't worry too much about it.
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:30 AM   #9
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Is a Hot Water Heater Timer Worth It?


By cycling the water heater on and off, you're basically cycling the water among all temperatures between 40 and 125 (as a rough guess). That sounds like a really bad idea for possible bacteria growth. You're opening it up to even bacteria that normally wouldn't grow in a water heater. It might be nothing, but who knows. Personally I'd consider the installation of tankless water heaters rather than turning the tanks on and off. Larger initial investment, but depends on how long you'll be there, resale value, etc. This will save you money down the road even while you're living in each house, in terms of energy. There still might be government incentives going on - I got $1,000 rebate on mine.
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Old 01-17-2013, 01:06 PM   #10
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Is a Hot Water Heater Timer Worth It?


Everything needs a circuit board smart chip. For one that will keep the diy'er from fixing anything anymore. All appliances will be registered and logged on to your smart meter. Your smart meter will save you big bucks if you allow the nanny state to turn your heat down, click off your fridge when you are at work. The state will have up to the minute data on what you use, when you use it and what else is being used at the same time. I am not going along with this converse movement. It is not about conserving resources this is about control.
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Old 01-17-2013, 01:13 PM   #11
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It is not about conserving resources this is about control.
Meh, don't attribute to malice that which can be explained by good ol' fashioned capitalistic greed. The utility wants to underbuild infrastructure to save money, but still retain as many customers as they can to earn as much money as they can. Load shedding lets them have their cake and eat it too. No conspiracy theories needed, just the almighty dollar.

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