Maximizing Energy Efficiency with Electric Water Heater Timers

If you’re looking to save money and reduce energy usage, an electric water heater timer is a smart investment. By turning off the heating during periods of non-use, you can reduce your electricity bill and extend the lifespan of your water heater.

In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of buying a water heater timer, the different types available, and how to choose and install the right model for your needs. We’ll also provide some tips on maximizing the efficiency of your water heater and ensuring it runs smoothly for years to come.

It is worth noting that the energy savings from using a timer may not be as significant with gas water heaters as they are with electric models. Therefore, for the purposes of this discussion, we will focus solely on electric water heaters.


Electric Water Heater Timers: What to Look For

How Electric Water Heater Timers Work

Water heater timers work by allowing you to schedule when your unit turns on and off. Depending on the type you choose, you can set specific times for the heater to turn on and off, or you can program it to turn off after a certain amount of time has passed.

When the water heater is not actively heating water, it remains in a standby mode, where it uses very little energy. The problem is when it is constantly reheating water and you are not using it. This means that by turning off the heating element during periods of non-use, you can reduce the amount of energy your water heater uses and save money on your electricity bills.

Some types also have advanced features, such as the ability to adjust the temperature of the water or to detect changes in water usage patterns and adjust the heating schedule accordingly. By choosing the right timer and programming it to meet your needs, you can maximize your energy savings and ensure that you always have hot water when you need it.


Water heater timers offer a range of benefits that can help you save money and energy.

Firstly, they can make your life more convenient by eliminating the need to manually turn your water heater on and off. Instead, you can program the timer to run automatically, saving you valuable time and effort.

In addition, by programming your water heater to turn off during periods when it is only reheating and not in use, you can significantly reduce your energy consumption and lower your electricity bills. This simple yet effective solution can lead to savings of up to 30% on your water heating costs, providing a noticeable reduction in your monthly expenses.

Moreover, they can also extend the lifespan of your water heater by reducing the wear and tear on its components. The constant heating and reheating of water can strain the heating element and other parts, leading to more frequent repairs and replacements. By reducing the amount of time your water heater spends heating water, you can reduce the need for maintenance and replacement, ultimately saving you money in the long run.

Electric Water Heater Timer Types

As previously discussed, using an electric water heater timer is an effective way to save energy and reduce your electricity bills.

However, with so many different types available, it can be challenging to decide which one is best for your needs. From basic to advanced programmable models and even WiFi-enabled options, there is a model to fit every budget and requirement.

In this section, we will explore the different types of water heater timers available and their respective benefits. By understanding the features of each type, you can make an informed decision and choose the product that best meets your needs.

  • Mechanical timers
  • Digital timers
  • Smart timers
  • Hybrid timers
  • Built-in timers
  • Countdown timers
  • Box-type timers

Mechanical Timers (ON/OFF)

Mechanical or on/off timers (switch) are the most basic type, and they function by allowing you to set specific times for your water heater to turn on and off. They typically have a manual dial or switch that you can use to set the desired operating times for your unit.

They are 24-hour timers and can work with different voltage inputs, including 120, 208, 240, and 277 volts. The settings repeat daily unless you use the external manual lever to turn the unit on or off ahead of schedule. In the event of a power outage, you will need to reset the clock dial to the correct time.

To achieve maximum savings, you should set the timer to operate for one hour in the morning and two hours in the evening, with the unit turning on one hour before each usage period.

They are usually easy to install and operate, and they are relatively inexpensive compared to other types. However, they offer less flexibility than other models.

Digital (Programmable) Timers

Digital timers are more advanced than the mechanical type and offer greater flexibility and control over your water heating system. They allow you to customize your hot water schedule to match your lifestyle and save energy. Digital timers usually have a digital display that makes it easy to set and adjust the programming with a wide range of programmable settings per day and for the whole week, and each day of the week can be different.

You can program them in multiple settings, including 5-day working week scheduling, weekend, and individual day scheduling (42 on/off cycles per week, for example). Some models are equipped with an override switch to resume regular functioning.

They usually operate at 110 V and are designed for indoor use only. With their stylish design and availability of useful controls, the best location spots provide easy and quick access.

Smart Timers

Smart timers such as WiFi and Z-Wave types are advanced models that can be controlled remotely via a smartphone app or smart home device. They offer the convenience of setting schedules and adjusting settings from anywhere, ensuring that hot water is always available. Some models also have the ability to learn usage patterns and adjust heating schedules accordingly.

WiFi and Z-Wave timers provide real-time monitoring of energy usage, which can help identify areas for energy savings and reduce electricity bills. However, they tend to be more expensive and require a stable internet connection. Professional installation may also be required for some models, adding to the overall cost.

Hybrid Timers

Hybrid timers combine the features of digital and mechanical timers to provide a more customizable schedule that can be adjusted manually or programmed digitally.

They offer a balance of flexibility and simplicity, making them a popular choice for homeowners who want a customized schedule without the complexity of advanced models.

Built-in Timers

Some water heaters come with built-in timers that are integrated into the control panel. These models are often digital and offer precise control over the water heater’s schedule.

One of the benefits of a built-in type is that it eliminates the need for an external timer or additional wiring. This can save both time and money, as there is no need to purchase a separate unit or hire an electrician to install it. Additionally, this model is usually more reliable and accurate than external types, as it is designed to work specifically with the water heater.

Countdown Timers

Countdown timers are a type that allows you to set a specific amount of time for the heater to stay on before automatically turning off. This type is useful if you need hot water for a specific task, such as taking a shower, but don’t want the water heater to stay on indefinitely. With a countdown type, you can set the desired amount of time for the water heater to stay on, and then it will automatically turn off once that time has elapsed. This helps to conserve energy and save money on your electricity bills by preventing the water heater from staying on unnecessarily.

There are two types: mechanical and electronic. Mechanical dial models are generally less expensive, easy to use, and reliable. On the other hand, electronic countdown timers are equipped with a light that indicates when they are on and have a time setting that ranges from one minute up to 60 minutes.

Box-Type Timers

Box-type timers are a widely used type designed with a compact plastic box that can be easily mounted on a wall. This type is commonly used for water heaters and has become increasingly popular due to its user-friendly interface and range of features.

One of the key benefits of box-type timers is their versatility. They typically offer multiple on/off cycles per day, which means you can set different schedules for different times of the day. Additionally, they usually come with adjustable temperature settings, which can help you conserve energy and reduce electricity bills.

Another advantage is their battery backup feature. In the event of a power outage, the timer will continue to function using the backup battery, ensuring that your hot water schedule is not disrupted.

Things to Consider

Choosing the right water heater timer can help you save energy and money on your electricity bills. Here are some factors to consider when selecting the right model:

  1. Type: As mentioned before, there are several types you can choose. Consider which type would be best for your needs based on factors such as your level of technological expertise, desired level of control and customization, and budget.
  2. Compatibility: Make sure the timer you select is compatible with your water heater’s voltage and amperage requirements. This information can usually be found in the owner’s manual or on the label of the water heater.
  3. Installation: Some models require professional installation, while others can be installed easily by the homeowner. Consider the cost of installation and whether you have the necessary skills and tools to install it yourself.
  4. Features: Look for a model that has features that meet your needs, such as multiple on/off cycles per day, programmable scheduling for specific days of the week, and temperature adjustment settings. Some models also offer additional features like learning your usage patterns, adjusting the heating schedule accordingly, real-time monitoring and data analysis to help identify areas for energy savings.
  5. Price: They can range in price from less than $20 for a basic model to several hundred dollars for a high-end WiFi or Z-Wave type. Consider your budget and the potential long-term energy savings when deciding how much to spend.

Installing Tips

Installing an electric water heater timer is a simple process that can be done using the provided manual or by hiring an electrician. Before getting started, it’s important to confirm the voltage the water heating appliance is using. If it is a 220 V appliance, make sure to buy a model that is compatible with 220 V.

  • To begin the installation process, turn off the power to the water heater at the circuit breaker.
  • Choose a location for mounting the water heater timer that is easily accessible and can be connected to the power source and the heater. We recommend mounting the unit on the wall near the electric heating unit and securing it with screws.
  • Before proceeding with the installation, use a tester to verify that the power to the heater is off. Unscrew the plate on top of the electric heating unit where the power cable goes in.
  • Remove the electrical cord and connect it to the timer through the provided hole.
  • Have the #10 electrical wire ready (check the instructions in the manual), connect one end to the timer and the other end to the heater.
  • Bring the plate from the heater back and screw the timer into its case.
  • Finally, set the timer and turn the power back on

These instructions are specifically for box timers, and the process may vary for other types.

How to Use a Timer

To use a timer for your electric water heater, start by identifying the type you have and ensure that it is compatible with your water heater. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and programming, and set the desired on and off times or countdown duration based on your usage patterns and schedule. Adjust the settings as needed for changes in your routine or seasonal adjustments, and monitor the device periodically to ensure it is functioning correctly and providing the expected energy savings.

For example, if you and your family need to wake up at 7 am, you can program the timer to turn the electric water heater on at 6 am to prepare hot water for your morning shower. Then, when you leave your home at 8 am, you can set the device to shut down the electric water heater and save energy.

Later, when you come back home and need hot water for showers, dishes, and washing machines, you can program the digital timer to run the water heater an hour before you need the hot water to be ready.

This way, you can save energy and reduce your electricity bills while still having hot water available when you need it.

How to Maximize Efficiency and Savings

Maximizing the efficiency and lifespan of your water heater is crucial for ensuring that you have a reliable source of hot water in your home. In addition to using electric water heater timers, another important things you can do is to regularly maintain your water heating device. This includes flushing the tank at least once a year to remove sediment buildup, checking and replacing the anode rod when necessary, and inspecting the unit for any signs of damage or wear. Additionally, adjusting the temperature to a lower setting can help save energy and prevent overheating, which can cause damage to the unit.

Another way to improve the efficiency and lifespan of your water heater is to install insulation around the tank and pipes to prevent heat loss. This can reduce standby heat loss, which occurs when heat escapes from the tank and pipes even when no water is being used.

Additionally, using low-flow showerheads and faucets can reduce the amount of water you use, which can help prolong the life of your water heater and reduce energy costs. By following these tips and maintaining your water heater, you can maximize its efficiency and lifespan, and enjoy a reliable source of hot water for years to come.


Electric water heater timers are an excellent investment for anyone who wants to save money on their electricity bills while reducing their carbon footprint. They are suitable for homeowners who want to control their hot water usage and ensure that they always have hot water when they need it.

Additionally, they are beneficial for people who have a regular schedule and can benefit from having a consistent hot water supply at specific times of the day. Whether you are looking for a simple mechanical type or a more advanced digital or smart model, there is a timer out there that will meet your needs and help you save energy and money.

Similar Posts