Suspect Water Htr running up electric bill

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  #1  
Old 02-12-18, 06:49 AM
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Suspect Water Htr running up electric bill

My electric bill is higher than I think it should be. We have move to this house in the last 6 mths. There is a 50gal. electric water htr that is 17yrs old. No leakage as of now.
Relief valve is not lifted.
Only 2 adults in house.
I have ohmed both elements and they are 12-14 ohms and are not grounded to the tank.
The bottom element looks like it has been replaced at some point but don't know when.

I am wondering what if you have any suggestions as to what else I should check at this point. Could the age of the tank be causing it to run bill up so much? corrosion, and such being a factor?

I am leaning toward replacing the tank but thought I would get some input from others first.

As an added note our house is heated with propane furnace so I don't think that is what is running up the bill. And almost all of the lights in the house are LED.

Thanks for any feedback that you have.
 
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  #2  
Old 02-12-18, 07:14 AM
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What temp do you have the heater set at ?
 
  #3  
Old 02-12-18, 07:42 AM
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Can you give us a number for a high bill and what you would expect. Basically, if the water heater is functioning properly the only difference between it and a new one would be better insulation. But extra insulation over a 2001 vintage WH would not make a big difference.

The primary factor for the cost of hot water is how much you use. Low flow shower heads, shorter showers, wash cloths in cold water or get one of the new front loaders that use very little water.

Once you address all of the consumption issues you should see a drop in that bill.

Share some numbers so we can guess at what is happening.

I put a power meter on mine and a few customers and have yet to find one using more electricity then we can explain.

Bud
 
  #4  
Old 02-12-18, 08:31 AM
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Is every month's bill higher than you think it should be or just one or two months? How is the home heated; natural gas, propane, heat pump, heated ceiling? How many refrigerators or chest freezers do you have?
 
  #5  
Old 02-12-18, 10:09 AM
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To answer some of the questions.

The bill this month was 177 up from 145. Very little use of the oven and the house is heated with a propane furnace. So other than the fan it shouldn't really use much electric I would think. And we keep the thermostat on 65 in the daytime and 63 at night. The water heater is set close to 130, little bit less maybe. As for water usuage, there are only 2 of us. My wife takes a typical shower for a woman I guess and mine are usually pretty short.

I am wondering if it would be worth the trouble to drain the water heater and pull the elements just to see what they look like, as far as corrosion and condition. What do you think?

I have not used an amp clamp it because I don't have one but I might do that. I know that the water heater has to be my largest consumer of electric and I am just trying to figure out if there is any problem that I might be missing.

What about the dip tube. I didn't really consider that until I read some people talking about it.

Another bit of info is that the water heater is inside the house in a mechanical room in the basement. So it is not exposed to the cold. So that shouldn't be a factor.

Hope this helps answer questions.
 
  #6  
Old 02-12-18, 10:20 AM
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The cost of the electricity is not a good measure as some utilities have seasonal rates. You need to compare the actual kWh consumption figures. Also, it is possible that your utility had a general rate increase and that would cause an increase in the billing with the same consumption.

A second factor, maybe mentioned in one of the other replies, is that as the incoming water becomes colder the amount of electricity to raise the temperature to the thermostat setting increases.
 
  #7  
Old 02-13-18, 05:18 PM
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have taken wrong approach here, sorry

I don't know what I was thinking presenting this as only an electric use problem. I failed to mention that we also run out of hot water way too fast. So I am going to try this one more time and it is all my fault that I didn't make that clear as well along with the electric use.

My wife just got out of the shower and again had to stop early because of being out of hot water. So I am close to just replacing the water heater in a few days.

Before I do I would really like to know what is wrong. I have ohmed the elements, I have checked the thermostats, both of which seem to be working as they should. Both the top and bottom cut on and off.

Any last suggestions before I pull the trigger on a new one? Should I check the dip tub as a last resort when I drain it before going all in?

Thanks for all your help.
 
  #8  
Old 02-13-18, 05:33 PM
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If I am going forward with a new water htr any suggestions as far as selections? I figure I will just go to lowes or plumbing supply and get standard 50 gal.

What about difference between 4500 & 5500 watt models? From what I see recovery rate is better for 5500 watt.
 
  #9  
Old 02-13-18, 06:08 PM
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You have a 50 gallon heater and your wife is running out of water during a shower? 1. You have a very high flow shower. 2. She takes very long showers. 3. There is something wrong with your water heater.

Before picking a water heater check the size of wires and break feeding your water heater. You don't want to make sure your house's wiring can support whatever you choose. Personally I can't see a need for a 5'500 watt model unless you guys love high flow, long showers.
 
  #10  
Old 02-13-18, 07:52 PM
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As Pilot stated, running out of hot water could be a result of having a high-flow shower head. If this has just recently become a problem then it is likely a non-functioning lower element OR a failing dip tube. Since you state the lower element and thermostat are okay that leaves the dip tube as the most likely problem.

The average life of a tank-type water heater is eight to ten years with gas-fired units failing earlier and electric units failing later. Note that these are AVERAGES and any particular heater could fail sooner or could last significantly longer. Bottom line is that at seventeen years of age you are on borrowed time with your heater and it is foolish to try any repairs, better to put that money into a new heater.

I disagree with Pilot when he states there is little need in getting the higher wattage heater. It will provide more hot water and will recover faster than the lower wattage model. As long as you have #10 copper wiring and a 30 ampere circuit breaker (most common for electric water heaters) the higher wattage model will be just fine. Truth is even a 4500 watt heater requires #10 copper wiring although it could "get by" with a less common 25 ampere circuit breaker.
 
  #11  
Old 02-14-18, 04:37 PM
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Yes, check the dip tube.

The most common reason for a water heater using much more energy than it should is a leak in the hot water plumbing.

Double check, and adjust the temperature controls (one inside each hatch) as needed, so you get water from a nearby hot faucet at about 120 degrees after a few hours of no one using hot water.
 
  #12  
Old 02-17-18, 08:58 AM
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Well I pulled the trigger and ordered a new water heater from Lowes. And I did get the 5500w one. I do have #10 wire and 30amp double pole breaker. So that should all be good. It should arrive in a week or so. When I take the old one out I will pull the dip tube out and see if that was actually the problem. Would just like to know for sure. So next is just the install which I don't see any problem with. The new one is taller so I will have to change the piping a little but that's not a problem at all.

One more question that I would like to put at you guys. In reference to the issue of the cold water that comes into the house and feeds the tank. Would it be any savings if I installed a small say 30gal water heater just as a buffer to the active water heater. No electric to it just used as a place for the water to adjust to indoor temp before entering the active water heater? What do you guys think?
 
  #13  
Old 02-17-18, 09:22 AM
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Better for letting incoming water adjust to indoor temperature would be about 25 feet of finned pipe taken out of FHW (hydronic) baseboard radiators for the water to zig zag though. You would need to find somewhere along the wall or ceiling to hang them where no one could bump heads or shoulders into them.

An un-energized water heater used for that purpose would not work well because the tank is insulated and it would take a very long time for the water inside to warm up.
 
  #14  
Old 02-17-18, 10:43 AM
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As Allan states an insulated tank would do little, if any, good. A non-insulated tank OR piping (with or without fins) could under certain circumstances sweat profusely and you would have that problem to deal with. Standard hydronic baseboard units are made with type M copper tubing and I do not advise using this thin wall tubing with normal service water pressures.
 

Last edited by Furd; 02-17-18 at 12:11 PM. Reason: correct misspelling
  #15  
Old 02-17-18, 11:04 AM
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One other thing about the incoming water....what is your supply? I may have missed that being mentioned. Are you on a well? Municipal water? Depending on supply and pipe depth...you may have very little variation in your incoming temp or it could swing 30 degrees.

I'm on City water which comes from 1600 ft down. The City told me it's a pretty stable temp when pumped. The variation between winter and summer is almost all due to the piping. It's only about 18" down, so as the soil warms up (basically March to Oct) the incoming temp is much higher than during our colder winter nights. In Jul and Aug you can almost turn the hot water off as the incoming temp can be close to 80 degrees.

Growing up in OH on well water there was no such variation since it came from the pump in the well pit right to the house. No idea the well depth, but it was always seemed cold to a thirsty teen. Just had to run it a while to let the garden hose cool off...lol.
 
  #16  
Old 02-17-18, 12:27 PM
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On municipal water. not sure of source.
 
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Old 02-17-18, 12:37 PM
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Many municipal water companies have storage tanks. My town has five wells and two storage tanks. Our water is much colder in the winter.
 
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Old 02-17-18, 12:38 PM
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Most of the municipal water in the southeast comes from surface sources like lakes and rivers. Then after it's run through pipes buried as shallow as 12" it can vary considerable in temperature between summer and winter. When heating water that 30-40 difference in the incoming water can make a big difference in how much energy it takes to heat. Think of heating your home. When it's 60f outside it doesn't take much to keep the house comfortable but drop the temp 30-40 degrees and you'll notice the furnace running a lot more often.
 
  #19  
Old 02-17-18, 12:38 PM
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Well, there was no easy answer and I wasn't really expecting a reply, since only you can measure your incoming temps at different times of the year and do the other research necessary.

I'm surprised you don't know your water source though...thats always been an important factor to me. Is it river , reservoir, underground or some combination. How susceptible to contamination or outages, etc etc. Of course...I'm in a small town in the high desert...so water is one of those high on the list items.
 
  #20  
Old 02-17-18, 05:13 PM
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I'm on municipal water and I like long, hot showers. In my case there is a definite temperature difference in the incoming water between summer and winter. In late summer I can go for as long as 45 minutes before starting to run out of hot water; in the winter it is more like 30 minutes.
 
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