LESLIE: Billy in Texas has a question about a water heater. How can we help you today?
BILLY: Yes, ma’am. I live in an 11×60 mobile home and it’s just me and my wife and our electric bill has been running us anywhere from $200 to $300 a month or more during the summertimes. But I have a 50-gallon water heater and I’m debating over whether I should go to gas or go to a smaller electric.
TOM: Billy, do you have air conditioning also running in the summer?
BILLY: Yes, we do.
TOM: Is that a central system or is that like a window unit?
BILLY: No, it’s central.
TOM: OK. Well, I mean I think probably those are the two most costly appliances to operate in your home; the central air conditioning and the water heater. Now, with respect to the water heater, do you have a timer on that?
BILLY: No, sir.
TOM: Alright, so let me give you a little trick of the trade here that can actually cut your water bill in half or even less than that and that is to install a 240-volt timer on the water heater. Because the water heater actually will maintain the water in a very hot-to-warm condition for most of the day without it running very many hours at all.
BILLY: Yes, sir.
TOM: But you install the water heater timer between the water heater and the circuit breaker and essentially you set it so that it comes on, say, a couple of hours before you get up in the morning, stays on throughout morning showers, then it can go off for almost all day and then come on again for a few hours in the evening. Generally, you’re going to run this water heater about eight to ten hours a day instead of 24/7. That, plus make sure the water temperature is set to around 110 degrees – that’s as hot as you’ll need it – and that will have a significant impact on the expense of running that water heater.
BILLY: Alright. Well, that sounds good to me.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.