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Question and Answer ArticleHot Water Heater: On or Off?

By Jennifer T. Derrick
Published: January 27, 2010

Q: We visit our lakehome most every weekend during the summer. We have a 40-gallon electric hot water heater (about 5 years old) and are wondering whether it is more efficient to turn it off every Sunday evening when we leave and turn it back on again Friday evening when we return, or just leave it on all summer (unless we are not going to be at the cabin for several weeks). — Rick & Deanna Wendt; via e-mail

A: Good question! Although it does take energy to get the water back to its normal heat levels, it’s wise to turn water heaters off if you will be gone three days or more. It’s definitely worth it, even though the energy and cost savings aren’t anything that will have you gawking at your electric bill.

And you may have considered this already, but is your hot water heater insulated? Putting an insulating jacket over the heater will help defray heat loss. So too, will insulating the entire hot water pipe and the first few feet of the cold water pipe that comes off the water heater. Be sure to read any manufacturer’s instructions first, however, as some newer water heaters already come with plenty of insulation.

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