Smart water heater timers.

Messages
333
Location
Atlanta, GA
So have been on a bit of an energy conserving binge as of lately as my budget billing has slowly creeped from $80 up to $90/month over the past year, outside of a small 3.5 gallon aquarium that was added not much else has changed so figure I could try to make some minor improvements here and there to help chip away.

My dad used to have an old mechanical timer on our family home water heater, ya know the type that has the pegs you have to move to on and off times. So reminiscing on that I figured hey our household hot water usage is pretty static so why not. Ended up in a Google hole of research and landed on this company which offers a smart water heater controller and it really piqued my interest.

Aquanta Smart Water Heater Controller

Considering the peg style mechanical timers run $60-$70 with the digital programmable running $100+ this seems like a solid bet at $149 with much more functionality than the digital programmables. As I understand it is kind of like a Nest thermostat but for your water heater where it learns your patterns and adjusts its schedule accordingly - but I did not dig too deep.

Now to justify the $149. Has anyone gone from a 24/7 water heater to timer and seen a decent savings? Our usage is pretty much 2 hot showers per morning (5-10 mins each), dishwasher 2-3x per week at night and maybe 1 load of hot wash laundry in a front loader.

Let me know your experiences.
 
Messages
2,390
Location
Seattle-ish, WA
I did this when last I lived alone, 10 years ago or so. It seemed to pay off.

I believe I set the timer to something like on at 5am, off at 9am, on again at 6pm and off at 11pm. Something like that. It worked fine - if you wanted a shower in-between, you could grab a quick one as there was enough residual heat to make it not terrible. I can't recall the savings, but I saw enough that I kept doing it. If I had guests, I would have to remember to change it. If you own your home, the other plus is saving the wear and tear on the element.
 
Messages
681
Location
Southern MN & Omaha NE
Interesting idea. We have a 40gal gas water heater that's super cheap to run so I've never really looked into it too much, but did a bit of research just now.

I wouldn't be too surprised if it did end up saving you money, but enough to justify the hassle and $149 may be another story: here's one thought...

I have never, not once, heard our water heater burner operating when hot water hasn't been used recently (when someone hasn't recently showered, or when we aren't doing laundry, etc.), or when it has been turned up - after vacations and such - I've never popped into the laundry/utility room and heard it burning away without a demand to heat the water. And we've turned it down for weekend trips and still had hot water upon return 36-48 hours later. Granted, there is a pilot light so it does get a few hundred btus of "free" energy to the water. But the tanks are pretty well-insulated and I don't think standby losses are very high at all - it seems reasonable to apply this to electric models, too.

I suppose, as a test, you might turn it off via the breaker, and let it stand for 12 hours or so, measuring the temp before and after. Similar temp readings would suggest low heat loss, while the temp dropping from, say, 120f to 90f overnight suggests that you're losing a good deal of heat. (There are also bacterial concerns that are at least worth consideration.) Were it me, I'd just wrap the thing in a $10 blanket and call it a day. I think timers would probably make more sense if you have peak/off-peak power rates and probably aren't going to save you very much, if enough to justify the price of the timer.
 
Messages
2,064
Location
USA
We have a 40gal gas water heater
I have never, not once, heard our water heater burner operating when hot water hasn't been used recently (when someone hasn't recently showered, or when we aren't doing laundry, etc.), or when it has been turned up

Ditto. It literally never turns on unless it has been used recently. I do unplug it when we leave for 2+ days.
 

pezzy84

Thread starter
Messages
333
Location
Atlanta, GA
I I think timers would probably make more sense if you have peak/off-peak power rates and probably aren't going to save you very much, if enough to justify the price of the timer.
This is one other caveat. My local utility (Georgia Power - part of Southern Company) is pushing a TOU rate plan but adds a demand charge that could blow my power bill out of the water if I happen to run everything at once. The non-peak rates are amazing but they trap you with the demand charge.

My thought is this was the one large user I cannot currently control so it may light up the heating elements while I have the dryer going, etc. I think if I can control every heavy consumer I can take advantage of this TOU rate plan.
 
Messages
17,835
Location
Silicon Valley
I use a smart switch to control my water kettle with similar schedule. That kettle has probably a much bigger heat loss than our gas water heater in 40 gal size and the latest insulation. I typically see only about 1/2 a therm of natural gas use per day so I would not think it would save you more than 1/4 to 1/8 of a therm with this smart controller. Around here it is about $1.5 per therm so that'll likely not be worth the trouble for natural gas.

For electric I would definitely think about it, and avoid shower during peak hours (3pm-8pm) instead of saving via smart switch.

It really sucks if in the early morning you want warm / hot water and you woke up earlier than your typical on time. Nobody likes to wait after they took off their clothes and realize water heater is off.
 
Messages
5,149
Location
South Carolina
This is one other caveat. My local utility (Georgia Power - part of Southern Company) is pushing a TOU rate plan but adds a demand charge that could blow my power bill out of the water if I happen to run everything at once. The non-peak rates are amazing but they trap you with the demand charge.

My thought is this was the one large user I cannot currently control so it may light up the heating elements while I have the dryer going, etc. I think if I can control every heavy consumer I can take advantage of this TOU rate plan.
Our local electric co-op went to demand rates here and we love it. Power is extremely cheap less then 6 cents a KWH except for a 3 hours demand window everyday where it goes to $12 a kilowatt hour! They then take the peak day of the month to calculate or something like that.
In winter it is 6 to 9am and in summer 4 to 7pm
Our electric bill is cheap as far as I am concerned, heck, last two months we run less then $90 a month in a 3000 sq ft house full of electronics, and a 75 marine reef tank. Think about that when a internet company charges $80 a month for data alone, NO smart devices needed here to lower our utility bills, they could not be as good as I am. :eek:)

We have our A/C go higher during the summer over that 3 hour peak period and if you have something other then gas heat, keep your house colder during the 3 hour winter period.
NEVER EVER use an electric dryer during peak time. We have gas heat and water which is a big plus.
A/C is two units, must be close to 4.5 ton combined. (guessing)

Keep the water heater off and the dryer off during peak times (when you go to peak use) and you will save money.
Winter;
Screen Shot 2021-03-05 at 6.50.02 AM.jpg

Hottest summertime bill;
Screen Shot 2021-03-05 at 6.50.59 AM.jpg
 
Messages
6,095
Location
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Are your hot water pipes insulated? If not you should. Then you can turn down the temp at the water heater a little and end up with the same temperature water that you had before at the usage end.
 
Messages
15,965
Location
NE,Ohio
if you have electric hot water consider changing to hybrid type on your next water heater replacement
electric use is about 25%-33% of regular type.
also free dehumidifier and cold air.

I could have upgraded to gas but I would need power vent and the install would be abit complicated.. prob around $2000 with some labor (plumber was $3300)

I found a deal on an AO smith hybrid (basically heat pump) electric and I installed it myself.
instant 20-25$ less a month.

Now if you will let me brag a min.
I found it on slickdeals.. ordered from lowes in California with local truck delivery.
ended up being under $300 for a regular $1200+ unit.

I dont think the timer will be much use.. except if you can use it to avoid the power usage on demand rate.

The best option would be to go Natural Gas if possible faster recovery and 1/4 the cost of electric
 
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JHZR2

Staff member
Messages
46,257
Location
New Jersey
Feel the outside of your water heater, is it room temp or warm or hot? I think as water heater insulation has gotten better then benefit from times has diminished.
Are your hot water pipes insulated? If not you should. Then you can turn down the temp at the water heater a little and end up with the same temperature water that you had before at the usage end.

I was thinking the same... should understand the losses of the heater before investing in something else. High losses will mean colder water in the tank, and thus more energy to get it up to temperature... if going away for a long period, just turn the thing off...
 
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Messages
987
Location
MO
I don’t think you’d recoup the $149. Like was mentioned earlier, my water heaters never fire (gas) unless the hot was was just used. If you have the high peak kWh charge billing, maybe a basic timer to keep it from ever coming on during that time would be smart. We have 4 or 5 options here for electrical but I just stick with the standard rate since I have 3 little kids and someone is home throughout the day almost always.
 
Messages
2,761
Location
Caldwell Idaho
This is one other caveat. My local utility (Georgia Power - part of Southern Company) is pushing a TOU rate plan but adds a demand charge that could blow my power bill out of the water if I happen to run everything at once. The non-peak rates are amazing but they trap you with the demand charge.

My thought is this was the one large user I cannot currently control so it may light up the heating elements while I have the dryer going, etc. I think if I can control every heavy consumer I can take advantage of this TOU rate plan.
Power companies all over the nation are finding it easy to rape the consumers.
 

Kestas

Staff member
Messages
13,976
Location
The Motor City
When I was a really cheap student, I'd keep my water heater at 103°F. This was warm enough for a hot shower without diluting it with cold water. I'd turn it off for weekends when I'd be out. Once after a weekend I forgot to turn it back on. When I went to take a shower, the water was still hot enough.
 

JHZR2

Staff member
Messages
46,257
Location
New Jersey
When I was a really cheap student, I'd keep my water heater at 103°F. This was warm enough for a hot shower without diluting it with cold water. I'd turn it off for weekends when I'd be out. Once after a weekend I forgot to turn it back on. When I went to take a shower, the water was still hot enough.

That was going to be my next suggestion - turn it down and see how it goes... Less delta T with the ambient means less losses.

Ive read there are issues with bacteria growth if kept too low... But not sure if this is really an issue with municipal water treated with chlorine... Maybe a thing if one has a well and septic leach field too close....
 
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