If you have a “weekender” type of cottage, it is possible that you could be saving a few dollars by managing your hot water heater usage. You don’t have to do anything crazy, just a simple on off switch to cut of power usage by the tank when you are are not there. That is the most basic part and many do that. They will turn the tank on when they get there on a Friday and turn it off when they leave on a Sunday.
Well, there is an additional step you can take to save a few dollars (you tree huggers will love this one as well). Today’s hot water tanks are fairly well insulated. So much so, that the tank will retain its heat for a couple of days.
I have found that our new hot water tank takes about 1 hour to get up to temp (115 – 120 degrees). After the tank is up to temp, it will retain that for the period that we are at our cottage. Since there are only 3 of us on most weekends (one being a 9 year old who is averse to bathing) our usage falls below the capacity of our tank. Because of this, we are able to heat the tank about an hour prior to needing hot water and turn the tank off at that point.
You can estimate your own usage. Let’s assume that 2 adults each take a 4 minute shower (longer than it sounds). The flow of our shower head is 1.5 GPM (gallons per minute). At that rate, our 40 gallon tank will only lose 24 gallons (2 adults x 2 showers x 4 min each=24). Let’s assume that typical handwashing and dish washing eliminates another 10 gallons from your tank. This will allow you 1 hour of heating for an entire weekend of use.
If you have a similar usage pattern, give it a try. You will feel a bit more green that you already are. If you do have a demand beyond the tank capacity, know that it only takes about an hour for the average tank to heat.