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Does getting a smaller electric water heater save money?
Old 09-05-2020, 10:30 AM   #1
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Does getting a smaller electric water heater save money?

I have read about people using a 10 gallon or 20 gallon water heater in a cabin to save money on utilities. It is their only water heater. Will that save money? I know you save money buy going from a 40 gallon to a 30 gallon water heater. Do you keep saving as you go smaller?
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Old 09-05-2020, 10:55 AM   #2
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I think the savings would be really tiny..
Once the water is heated, it only has to keep up the heat for loss effect.

The cost of a special small waterheater (I'm guessing) would be more expensive than a standard one, which would wipe out any savings.

Especially true if one were in a cold climate, where the "wasted" heat would warm the room slightly.

One could probably save more money by putting a fiberglass jacket/sweater over the water heater to dramatically increase it's insulated value.
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Old 09-05-2020, 11:14 AM   #3
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IN general, it cost more to heat water using electricity than gas.
Gas more efficient. Unless, your electric rates are unusually low.
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Old 09-05-2020, 11:22 AM   #4
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... One could probably save more money by putting a fiberglass jacket/sweater over the water heater to dramatically increase it's insulated value.
This. Go with a smaller water heater only if you're replacing one anyway. If you take our a larger one that works well, you'll never get a payback on replacing it with a small one.

Another option when replacement time comes might be a tankless water heater but there are some serious tradeoffs with those.
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Old 09-05-2020, 11:44 AM   #5
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You can save about $127 a year going from a 40 gallon water heater to a 30 gallon water heater. I thought the saving might continue if you went smaller. There are no yellow energy stickers on tanks smaller than 28 gallons to give you an idea of energy cost.
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Old 09-05-2020, 11:52 AM   #6
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You can save about $127 a year going from a 40 gallon water heater to a 30 gallon water heater. ...
That depends on a number of assumptions that might not apply to the OP's cabin.

For example, at our lake cabin the electric water heater is turned off when we're not there, which is over 80% of the time. When we are there it is just the two of us, so not multiple daily showers, not daily dishwasher runs, etc. Water heater is standard size; going to a smaller one would probably produce undetectable savings.
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Old 09-05-2020, 12:03 PM   #7
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Might want to throw in the use of tank-less water heaters. Convenience of being able to go from off to hot shower in little time. It will take some time to heat up that 30 gal heater using typical tank.
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Old 09-05-2020, 12:19 PM   #8
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A newer electric hot water heater will use less energy than an older one.
If you have a newer 40-gal tank, the savings would be less if you swapped it out for 30-gal.

This page offers a lot to think about.
https://blog.constellation.com/2016/...water-heaters/
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Old 09-05-2020, 02:27 PM   #9
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Years back we saved about $10 (?)/month by wiring in a timer between the breaker panel and the 40 gallon under counter water heater. Just ran it for a couple hours morning and night during use time rather than trying to keep it up to temp 24 hours. Those were thriftier times, and the house temperature was only livable in the evening.

We do have a 110V 5 gallon WH in the garage under a sink. Incredibly thrifty, as it has a really short hot water line run and a switch on top that hasn't been on for probably the last six years.
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Old 09-05-2020, 02:52 PM   #10
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Might want to throw in the use of tank-less water heaters. Convenience of being able to go from off to hot shower in little time. It will take some time to heat up that 30 gal heater using typical tank.
+1 This ^^

A tankless water heater pulls much more electricity during the time it is heating, but only comes on on demand. Depending on your usage profile, that is the theoretically most efficient way to provide hot water. Energy is only used when hot water is demanded, none is wasted maintaining temperature during periods of no use.

The downside is the availability of endless hot water can work against thrift. I have a tankless system in my Alaska cabin. I have a tendency to linger in the shower under the hot water sometimes for a lot longer than a tank water heater could maintain. It sure feels good to hang out in the hot shower for 45 minutes after shovelling snow for a couple hours, but it isn't cheap.
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Old 09-05-2020, 03:32 PM   #11
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I think the savings would be really tiny..
Once the water is heated, it only has to keep up the heat for loss effect.

The cost of a special small waterheater (I'm guessing) would be more expensive than a standard one, which would wipe out any savings.

Especially true if one were in a cold climate, where the "wasted" heat would warm the room slightly.

One could probably save more money by putting a fiberglass jacket/sweater over the water heater to dramatically increase it's insulated value.


Of course youíll save money on each size smaller (assuming they have the same insulated jacket). Less surface area = less heat loss. But you donít want to run out of water in the middle of a shower either! If you really want to be efficient, buy a tankless instantaneous water heater.
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Old 09-05-2020, 06:36 PM   #12
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I have read about people using a 10 gallon or 20 gallon water heater in a cabin to save money on utilities. It is their only water heater. Will that save money? I know you save money buy going from a 40 gallon to a 30 gallon water heater. Do you keep saving as you go smaller?
If you are comfortable consuming only 10-gallons of hot water each day, then good.

I once lived in a trailer that only had a 5-gallon water heater, that is a very short restrictive shower.

Savings come from monitoring how many hours a day the heating element must operate. If you could put the element on a timer to only run for an hour each day, that would be a savings as compared to letting it run for two hours a day [regardless of how many gallons the tank holds].
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Old 09-05-2020, 06:42 PM   #13
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+1 This ^^

A tankless water heater pulls much more electricity during the time it is heating, but only comes on on demand. Depending on your usage profile, that is the theoretically most efficient way to provide hot water. Energy is only used when hot water is demanded, none is wasted maintaining temperature during periods of no use.
Tankless makes sense to me.

The temperature in Las Vegas is 108 today and I want a water cooler -- not a water heater.

My 2 showers today nearly burned me despite a low setting
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Old 09-05-2020, 07:25 PM   #14
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Agreeing that you should look at tankless.
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Old 09-05-2020, 08:21 PM   #15
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Agreeing that you should look at tankless.
You'll get no gratitude from a tankless water heater.
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Old 09-05-2020, 08:26 PM   #16
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You'll get no gratitude from a tankless water heater.
I think all he's looking for is some thermal gratification.
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Old 09-05-2020, 09:34 PM   #17
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If you are comfortable consuming only 10-gallons of hot water each day, then good.

I once lived in a trailer that only had a 5-gallon water heater, that is a very short restrictive shower.

Savings come from monitoring how many hours a day the heating element must operate. If you could put the element on a timer to only run for an hour each day, that would be a savings as compared to letting it run for two hours a day [regardless of how many gallons the tank holds].
How long did the hot water last for?
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Old 09-05-2020, 10:50 PM   #18
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.... If you could put the element on a timer to only run for an hour each day, that would be a savings as compared to letting it run for two hours a day [regardless of how many gallons the tank holds].
Since most (all ? ) electric water heaters are on their own circuit.
OP just needs to turn on the breaker 1 hour before a shower, then turn it off.
Do that each day and will save the most possible.

If OP forgets and has a cold shower, OP will remember the next day
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Old 09-06-2020, 06:06 AM   #19
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[QUOTE=target2019;2481333]A newer electric hot water heater will use less energy than an older one.
If you have a newer 40-gal tank, the savings would be less if you swapped it out for 30-gal.


Not sure this is true, UNLESS the new electric WH has more insulation than the old one. If one accepts this, and the old WH has less insulation, then simply insulate it more - lots of ways to do this.
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Old 09-06-2020, 06:30 AM   #20
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I looked at tankless a few years ago, but our house is not optimized for it. It requires much more efficient and modern electrical overall than we have. 40 yr old house.

Would have been a no brainer to go tankless if it was viable. But it seemed like a more more up front work and expense.
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