While everyone is promoting the use of Compact Florescent and LED Light Bulbs to save money the reality is heating and cooling are the most expensive portions of our electric use.
To reduce the cost of Electric used for heating our homes most new homes will come with a programmable thermostat allowing the owner to set on and off times throughout the day and reduce heat and air conditioning use while no one is home or during hours when they are less important.
Water heating is also a large consumer of electricity. For that reason many people have moved to natural gas for their water heating needs but not every home uses natural gas or propane and for those that do the cost of natural gas has been increasing over the past decade so many people continue to use Electric Water Heaters.
No matter which type of heater you have you can benefit by making a few simple adjustments. First you should measure the temperature of water at your faucet. If the water feels very hot to the touch when using it for washing then you can benefit from adjusting the temperature. Your Water Heater may have one or two thermostats allowing you to make adjustments to the temperature. Both should be set at the same temperature if they are both adjustable if there is only one setting then preset that thermostat to 120F. This will provide enough heat for general use. Washing your dishes in your dish washer will make use of the heater in the dish washer to increase the heat to a temperature that is good for killing bacteria and cleaning.
Now that your thermostat is set you will see a reduction in the use of electricity immediately but to reduce the use of electricity further you can use a programmable water heater timer that will limit the time that your water heater runs.
If you normally leave the home during the day there is no reason to keep water preheated to its maximum temperature while you are away. The water in your heater will not lose all of its heat while you are away but it will just not run constantly to be ready for instant use.
Water heater timers will require alteration of your electrical connection at your water heater and will probably require an electrician. Plumbers normally can also perform this service under the limitations of their duties but some jurisdictions will require an electrician.
The best time to have a timer installed is when you are replacing your water heater however that only comes every ten to fifteen years or so. Another good time is when you are having service performed on your heater or maybe to replace a water heater sacrificial rod or other part.
Programmable Water Heater Timers are very basic in their design. They will have a dial to display the time of day and you rotate prong arrows to the time of day you want your heater to run. It is similar to a plugin timer used for holiday lights or for watering your yard if you have ever seen or used one of those.
You should select a range that you can normally live with every day because unlike hvac thermostats you won’t have a weekday and weekend setting. Even if you can turn the heater off 1/3 of the day that is still going to reduce your electric bill.
The amount of benefit you will see from any upgrades or adjustments to your water heater is really based on where you live and how you live. A very busy home may not see huge reductions but with some adjustments to your schedule you can improve your results.
You can always override your timer for a temporary situation such as a late night shower and you should expect your initial settings to require adjustment as you better understand how much time it takes your heater to warm up in the morning before you wake up.