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Should I switch to Electric for Hot Water?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by daveswoodhauler, Apr 28, 2010.

  1. Pete Kurki

    Pete Kurki Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Messages:
    18
    Loc:
    Central MN
    My power coop has a special rate 5.2 cents per kWh when you go with the off peak storage water heater deal. We have been averaging $13.50 per month with 80 gal unit and 2 people in the household. It's just a basic unit - have not had time to insulate it yet but will get that done soon (that's what I decided 3 years ago when we bought the house).

    The heater is 16 years old now, and we have super hard high iron well water with a softener. No problems yet, but I have a spare unit sitting in the barn (got a very lightly used unit free).

    I also have natural gas connection so have been thinking about switching to NG water heat, as well as played with an idea about DIY solar water heater, but with only $160 annual cost with a electric water right now does not seem to make sense to change anything.

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  2. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    4,351
    Loc:
    Northern MN
    Our deal is similar, off-peak, but the rate is 4.2 cents/kwh. Two people, 80 + 50 gallon water heaters (handles all the children and grandchildren), and our cost averages just over $4/mo. It was twice that before we insulated. You're right, at these low costs there is little cost/benefit to do anything more to reduce cost. Insulation, though, paid back in less than a year.
  3. daveswoodhauler

    daveswoodhauler Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 20, 2008
    Messages:
    1,847
    Loc:
    Massachusetts
    Hi Frank - No nat gas here...I am a little in the sticks, so my only alternative would be propane with a tank outside.
    After some thought, I guess that during the winter time since the furnace is cycling for heat, that perhaps I would save money in the summer months with electric, but I might save less in the winter with an electric heater as the electric tank would need to run alll the time, and in the winter since the furnace kicks on for heat it is also heating the water. Gotta do some more research.
    Thanks,
    David
  4. daveswoodhauler

    daveswoodhauler Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 20, 2008
    Messages:
    1,847
    Loc:
    Massachusetts
    Wow, wish we had the same here.
    In our so called "green state" we have no off peak discounts..pretty much pay 15 cents any time of day.
    I really wish they would make than an option, as we already run the dishwasher at night when sleeping.
  5. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    Apr 10, 2008
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    1,995
    Loc:
    Rochester,ny
    I'm enjoying a little reverse osmosis myself this morning.
  6. Pete Kurki

    Pete Kurki Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Messages:
    18
    Loc:
    Central MN
    Wow! Does insulating really make that much difference? I guess I have lost an opportunity to save up to $80 per year just for putting it off. I think this task just went up on my TODO list. Did you use just the regular insulation sets that the big box stores sell?
  7. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    Nov 9, 2008
    Messages:
    7,343
    Loc:
    NW Ontario
    Insulating is more than just wrapping a blanket around the tank. How it is plumbed up and insulating the plumbing can have a benefit too. The hot water can percolate constantly through the plumbing so insulating and a heat trap can help.
  8. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    4,351
    Loc:
    Northern MN
    No, I wrapped 6" of fiberglass, not kraft faced, around the sides, same on top, also raised the hw htr off the floor on 2 x 4's, and insulated underneath. Heat traps also help a lot; and insulate as much pipe as you get at. Good luck.
  9. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    28,002
    Loc:
    Northern Virginia
    We have a 50 gallon electric water heater and the cost of heating water is a non-event. We don't have oil heat but I can't imagine having a boiler fire up just to heat the water.

    I turned the thing off at the breaker a couple of times for 24 hours to measure KWH usage and it was insignificant. And with an electric bill of under a hundred a month with juice costing me $0.15 a KWH any major change would have been significant.

    Two people, no kids, both here all day, all electric house, blah blah blah.
  10. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2005
    Messages:
    1,662
    Loc:
    northern massachusetts
    Massachusetts used to have the meters for the water heater but decided to remove them. the last meter that i seen was about 7 to 8 years ago. built in timer to run top element of heater only during the day and full at night.
    also for some of 80 gal tank users there is a tank out there that is stone lined. they used to supply the houses that rented the tanks off the power company and also solar people used them also. these tanks are great if you have harsh water. for some reason they put up with it better. when i moved into this house in 2001 we had a rented tank that was about 15 years old. that was one of those stone lined tanks but i took it out thinking that 15 years old, it's a flood waiting to happen and i didn't want to pay for it to be heated thru electric. thinking it was expensive. back then cost of heating water was cheaper with gas. can't remember the name of the stone lined tanks but can still picture them in my mind brown colored. they were nice if you were to lose your electric the stone would heat the water for a day.

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