Lets face it everything costs more then it did a few years ago and electric bills are just another monthly cost that will never go away (unless you go solar). So, reducing consumption is your best bet and wasted use is something you never want happening in your home.
Although water heaters are highly insulated and you can improve its efficiency with the use of Heat Traps and external insulation blankets your heater is running all day long to ensure that there is heated water ready for use.
In some settings the need for 24 hour a day hot water can not be eliminated but in most homes and businesses there are large stretches of time that having your heater on is a waste of electricity.
If you have a Gas water heater your savings will be minimal and the use of a timer is not suggested but if you have an electric water heater you can normally install the timer yourself or have it installed when you have your water heater replaced.
Water heater timers come in two basic designs either digital which allows daily programming or a manual dial unit that sets the same times every day.
I would probably go with a digital unit that allows at least 6 different settings. Why they did not allow for 7 day settings I am not sure but most of the digital units allow 6 settings which means one setting for each week day and one for the weekend.
The way you program the off time is really up to you but if you can live with getting a shower the night before or if you find that you have enough water in the morning for a quick shower you could turn off your water heater for most of the day.
This would allow you to turn your water heater off from the time that you go to sleep at night all the way until about an hour before you come home from work. Meaning your water heater would only be running for maybe 6 to 8 hrs a day instead of 24 hrs a day.
Free Water Heater Timers from your Electric Company
Some electric companies have started offering free timers and controllers that will reduce your use of electricity on major appliances including water heaters and air conditioners.
Personally I don’t like the idea of the electric company saying when they will allow us to use their service in this way. They normally want to shut you down during high load times but this is the time that you most need electricity for your air conditioning in the summer.
I would not get into this type of arrangement unless you have the ability to easily override the device if you are in need.
How much do Water Heater Timers Cost?
It will depend on the type of timer you purchase but you can expect to pay about $50 for a digital or dial timer.
These timers can also be used to control outside lights or other electrical equipment and come in 115 or 220 volt units.