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#1
Old 12-17-2004, 07:47 PM
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Saving money by turning off your water heater

We've just moved into a new house with an electric water heater. Our last place had a solar water heater. Electricity costs are really high here and to try and save money, we've been turning off the water heater and pump when we're not using them. It doesn't take long for the water to heat up (about 10 minutes) and we shower twice a day or so so it gets turned on and off twice or three times a day for about 1/2 hour at a time. Will this save money or will the increased start up energy equal or excede the maintenance energy (not sure of the technical terms lol)?
#2
Old 12-17-2004, 09:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by biddee
We've just moved into a new house with an electric water heater. Our last place had a solar water heater. Electricity costs are really high here and to try and save money, we've been turning off the water heater and pump when we're not using them. It doesn't take long for the water to heat up (about 10 minutes) and we shower twice a day or so so it gets turned on and off twice or three times a day for about 1/2 hour at a time. Will this save money or will the increased start up energy equal or excede the maintenance energy (not sure of the technical terms lol)?
General answer: maybe, depending. Can we assume you wish to minimize electric bill. What payback time for cost of changes?
More information would be helpful.
Pump? Do you have a circulating pump on the HW system?
What size HWH? How may sq.ft. to house?
What are distances from HWH to points of use?
Are water lines insulated?
Copper or other materia for lines lines? Size?
A complete description lof the HW system would be helpful.

New systems in this area are using a new high temp high pressure plastic tubing.
Compact point of use HWH's are also used in larger houses.
#3
Old 12-17-2004, 09:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PinGear
General answer: maybe, depending. Can we assume you wish to minimize electric bill. What payback time for cost of changes?
More information would be helpful.
Pump? Do you have a circulating pump on the HW system?
What size HWH? How may sq.ft. to house?
What are distances from HWH to points of use?
Are water lines insulated?
Copper or other materia for lines lines? Size?
A complete description lof the HW system would be helpful.

New systems in this area are using a new high temp high pressure plastic tubing.
Compact point of use HWH's are also used in larger houses.
Huh! Sorry...this is all a little over my head. I will do the best I can. The pump is a backup pump and is only used when government water is off. It is not directly related to the HWH except that we're not sure which switch is for the HWH and which for the pump so we turn off both.

Not sure of the sq ft. of the house (we're renting) but is a 2 bed 2 bath single level. The HWH is directly below the master bathroom and the other bathroom is no more than 15 ft away. I'm not sure of the HWH size but is fairly small. Probably about 3ft high.
I don't think the water lines are insulated.
Not sure of the material for lines or size.

Sorry about the vagueness, but as I said, we're renting the house and I don't know much about this sort of thing.
#4
Old 12-17-2004, 09:53 PM
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PHP Code:
I wrote a reply to the other post which had been deleted by the time it was posted and went to ............
With the new information included above: probably, yes.
Why a pump? Are points of use remote from HWH&P?
What material for lines? Insulated?
Size of house, sq.ft?
What is hot water consumption vs. total water meter reading.
Check with you electric utility. They may allow lower rate for off peak usage with a meter and timer.
Am going to try and keep these in one post LOL...

I'm not sure about the hot water consuption vs total water meter reading...how would I figure this out?

And electric utility do not have any kind of off peak anything....I live in the Caribbean and things are not that sophisticated here LOL.
#5
Old 12-17-2004, 11:55 PM
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biddee
Regardless of all that extra information you will save money, most likely a lot of money over the course of a year. How much depends on the cost of electricity where you are.
While you are at work, school, vacation or wherever your HWH is at home keeping water hot that you will never use. It just loses its heat right through the tank wall and heats it up again, just waiting for you to come home and take a shower. The tank is insulated just not exceptionally well, add a water heater blanket for extra cost savings even in a heated basement/utility closet.

If you want to see your savings, monitor your electric usage off of your meter for a few days of doing each way to get an average and see if it is worth the extra trouble. good luck
#6
Old 12-17-2004, 11:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by biddee
We've just moved into a new house with an electric water heater. Our last place had a solar water heater. Electricity costs are really high here and to try and save money, we've been turning off the water heater and pump when we're not using them. It doesn't take long for the water to heat up (about 10 minutes) and we shower twice a day or so so it gets turned on and off twice or three times a day for about 1/2 hour at a time. Will this save money or will the increased start up energy equal or excede the maintenance energy (not sure of the technical terms lol)?
PinGear seems to be looking at this a little too hard.

For a typical residential system where cold water enters the water heater, the water is heated up and sent out in pipes to the end use, it will save you energy to turn the heater off when not in use.

Electricity is used first to heat the cold water that comes into the tank. More electricity is needed to replace any heat lost from the tank to it's suroundings. The hotter the tank is, the more energy gets lost to the surroundings. Turning off the tank allows it to cool down, and as it cools down, it loses less heat to the environment, which is less energy that you have to pay to replace. Some people get confused by thinking, "OK, but if I let the tank cool down, then I will have the extra energy cost to heat the water back up when I turn the unit back on." The flaw here is that it is not "extra" energy to heat it back up. The hot tank loses energy and has to replace it at a faster rate than the cold tank loses energy, so you need less energy overall.

However, if you are in a tropical area and turn the tank on two times a day, I can't imagine that you will save very much money as it will take a few hours for the tank to cool down.
#7
Old 12-18-2004, 02:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by biddee
...we've been turning off the water heater and pump when we're not using them... Will this save money?
Yes.
#8
Old 12-18-2004, 02:45 AM
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If your daily schedules are reasonably routine, you can have a time switch installed to manage what you're doing manually.
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Crows. Keeping our highways clear of roadkill for over 80 years
#9
Old 12-18-2004, 07:42 AM
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The bottom line is you want to know if turning off the power is worth it(to you). No one can tell you because a)there's no accurate way for us to calculate the energy saved and b) even if we could, only you can determine if saving "x" is worth the trouble.

Here's how you can decide. First determine if your water heater is insulated, by leaving the switch on for a while and then feeling the side of the heater. If it's about home temp, then it is and running a one month test leaving the power on continously will not mean going from riches to rags.

If the heater is hot, then you will have to make some wild ass guesses to determine if you want to do the test or not.
#10
Old 12-18-2004, 08:54 AM
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I had a leaky water heater that stopped leaking when it was unplugged. I only plugged it in ten minutes before the shower mainly to minimize leaking, but I found I probably saved 5-10 bucks a month on my electric bill each month. I didn't pay close enough attention to be 100 percent sure though.
#11
Old 12-18-2004, 12:07 PM
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A similar question. I'm going out of town for about 10 days later this month. Can I turn off the water heater before I leave to save on energy costs? Will horrible things grow in the tank? Should I turn it off and flush it out first?
#12
Old 12-18-2004, 12:23 PM
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biddee,

Yes, in ANY CASE it will save you money. It takes power ($) to keep the water hot for all those many hours it's not needed.

That is the reason some Power Companies recommend using a timer on water heaters. A timer would be great for you.
#13
Old 12-18-2004, 02:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SanibelMan
A similar question. I'm going out of town for about 10 days later this month. Can I turn off the water heater before I leave to save on energy costs? Will horrible things grow in the tank? Should I turn it off and flush it out first?
When I go out of town, I turn my heater back to the pilot position, which is pretty close to off, as pilots use minimal gas, but flushing the tank is something you do periodically, as dictated by the hardness of your water. If evil things grow in the tank, you need some type of water purifier.
#14
Old 12-18-2004, 05:31 PM
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biddee
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rikster
If you want to see your savings, monitor your electric usage off of your meter for a few days of doing each way to get an average and see if it is worth the extra trouble. good luck
The "circulating pump" in OP threw me a curve. Hence all the questions.
Apparently it is a supply or booster pump to insure adequate house pressure.

Rikster has the simple answer.
#15
Old 12-18-2004, 05:59 PM
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Remember a timer cost money, and it may not pay back your savings.

Also you have to consider wear on the switch or dial (I only know gas HWH's), normally it will last longer then the tank, but if you break it there goes all yoru savings.
#16
Old 12-18-2004, 07:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PinGear
biddee
The "circulating pump" in OP threw me a curve. Hence all the questions.
Apparently it is a supply or booster pump to insure adequate house pressure.

Rikster has the simple answer.
Hey! I had the same answer! No credit for being 15 seconds late?

And the circulating pump you were being asked about is most likely not a booster pump. When you turn the hot water on first thing in the morning, the pipe between the water heater and the faucet can be so long that you have to run the faucet for several minutes before the cool water in the pipes (cooled down overnight from just sitting in the pipes) is replaced with fresh hot water all the way to the faucet.
In some high end houses, there are two hot water pipes. One pipe goes from the outlet of the heater to the hot water faucet, and another from just below the hot water faucet back to a circulating pump which pumps into the inlet of the water heater. The pump is usually very small and constantly on. This keeps hot water circulating in the pipes and keeps it hot at all times, so you get instant hot water when you open the faucet. But it does increase your gas or electric bill to keep all that pipe hot all the time.
#17
Old 12-18-2004, 07:54 PM
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A tankless water heater would save you even more money, since it is an on demand type system. Of course at that price you may take years to make up the difference between it and a regular water heater.
#18
Old 12-18-2004, 09:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoringDad
Hey! I had the same answer! No credit for being 15 seconds late?

And the circulating pump you were being asked about is most likely not a booster pump. When you turn the hot water on first thing in the morning, the pipe between the water heater and the faucet can be so long that you have to run the faucet for several minutes before the cool water in the pipes (cooled down overnight from just sitting in the pipes) is replaced with fresh hot water all the way to the faucet.
In some high end houses, there are two hot water pipes. One pipe goes from the outlet of the heater to the hot water faucet, and another from just below the hot water faucet back to a circulating pump which pumps into the inlet of the water heater. The pump is usually very small and constantly on. This keeps hot water circulating in the pipes and keeps it hot at all times, so you get instant hot water when you open the faucet. But it does increase your gas or electric bill to keep all that pipe hot all the time.
Actually the pump is a booster pump. We are normally supplied with government water, but most houses here are equipped with a cistern and pump as the government supply is fairly erratic and it is the only way to ensure a constant supply of water. It is the same with the electricity. Most houses come equipped with a generator for power outages.

BTW, thanks everyone for your replies. We intend to do the electricity monitoring thing, just to see if we are actually saving money this way and I will post an update when I know.
#19
Old 12-18-2004, 09:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kanicbird
Remember a timer cost money, and it may not pay back your savings.

Also you have to consider wear on the switch or dial (I only know gas HWH's), normally it will last longer then the tank, but if you break it there goes all yoru savings.
Not quite. If you buy el cheapo brand timer, then yes early failure is a distinct possibility. I only sell Intermatic timers because they do last seemingly forever (one at my fire station is over 30 years old), and when they do check out, you can go to an electrical supply house and get a motor replacement kit or a switch contact replacement kit. A decent timer with professional installation should be a break even deal after a year or two, assuming $150 install cost.
#20
Old 12-19-2004, 10:36 AM
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Hey; look what I found!

WATER HEATER TIMERS VS. INSULATED WATER JACKETS IN TERMS OF COST AND ENERGY SAVINGS
Quote:
The maximum expected saving using a timer to turn off the water heater 18 hours per day would be about $22.09 per year for two people using about 40 gallons of water per day.... However, for a family of four using about 80 gallons of water per day, the saving is much less, or about $12.27 per year.... The analysis was based on electric rate of 7.5 cents per kilowatt hour.

Installing a typical water heater jacket with an insulation value of R-6 will save an average of about $19.20 per year for two people and only slightly less for a family of four.
So: actual numbers and stuff. I assume, biddee, that if your electric rate is substantially higher than 7.5cents/KWH then you can scale the expected savings appropriately.
#21
Old 12-19-2004, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SanibelMan
I'm going out of town for about 10 days later this month. Can I turn off the water heater before I leave to save on energy costs? Will horrible things grow in the tank? Should I turn it off and flush it out first?
I routinely turn off my HWH when I'm away from home, and I've never had a problem with this, even when away for much longer than 10 days. I suppose YMMV, but I don't see how much that's horrible can get very far in 10 days, or withstand the sudden return of heat when you arrive back from your trip.
#22
Old 12-19-2004, 07:13 PM
CC CC is offline
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hijack?

If this question is pretty much beaten to death, I'd like to ask a similar one: We live in the midwest...plenty cold. (especially today). Our forced air heater is on a thermostat so that it goes off at 9 when we leave, back on at 4. My question is this: When it goes on at 4, and the house has gotten very very cold (we set the day time temp at 64), it seems to run forever to get up to 72 again, cycles frequently, and seems to be running an awful lot. If we just set the thing to, say, 70, it would run more during the day, but not that much, and wouldn't spend forever getting back up to 72. Would we save money? Can you say for sure? Does it depend on our own house? what's the deal? xo C
#23
Old 12-19-2004, 10:05 PM
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Quote:
The maximum expected saving using a timer to turn off the water heater 18 hours per day would be about $22.09 per year for two people using about 40 gallons of water per day.... However, for a family of four using about 80 gallons of water per day, the saving is much less, or about $12.27 per year.... The analysis was based on electric rate of 7.5 cents per kilowatt hour.
So payback period grows to over 6 years.

Quote:
I'd like to ask a similar one: We live in the midwest...plenty cold. (especially today). Our forced air heater is on a thermostat so that it goes off at 9 when we leave, back on at 4.
My understanding is as a estimate, you can't count the cool-down time, nor the warm up time, just the savings at the lower temp once you reach steady state.
#24
Old 12-19-2004, 10:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CC
If this question is pretty much beaten to death, I'd like to ask a similar one: We live in the midwest...plenty cold. (especially today). Our forced air heater is on a thermostat so that it goes off at 9 when we leave, back on at 4. My question is this: When it goes on at 4, and the house has gotten very very cold (we set the day time temp at 64), it seems to run forever to get up to 72 again, cycles frequently, and seems to be running an awful lot. If we just set the thing to, say, 70, it would run more during the day, but not that much, and wouldn't spend forever getting back up to 72. Would we save money? Can you say for sure? Does it depend on our own house? what's the deal? xo C
The answer here is the same as for the water heater: It will always cost less to turn the heat down for a few hours than to keep it set higher.

It may seem like the furnace will run more to bring the house back up to temp than it runs when simply maintaining the temperature, but itís not true.

If you left the temperature set at 72 (or 70) for those seven hours, and tracked the total time the furnace ran, you would find that it ran more than it does to bring the heat up from 64. This will always be the case, assuming the heat loss from your home is reasonably consistent (that is, you donít have a window or door open while youíre trying to reheat the house that isnít open during the time when the house is unoccupied).
#25
Old 12-20-2004, 03:19 PM
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I just wanted to nitpick and remind people that it is not a HOT Water Heater. It is just a water heater. It just heats water. If the water was already hot it would not need heating. Thank you for this brief interruption.
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