Hot Water

I moved to Phoenix on June 18th in 2011.  For the first week or two the temperatures were hot but it still was cooling down into the 70’s or 80’s at night.  Then it really heated up.  Night time lows were in the 90’s!  I was looking for ways to keep cool and conserve energy when my attention turned to the hot water heater.

The hot water heater was in a centrally located closet at the condo I was living in.  This would be a good thing in the winter, but in the summer the last thing I wanted was a “heater” running in the middle of the house.  Besides, in Phoenix, in the summer, it is impossible to get cold water out of the tap anyway.  That solidified my decision – I turned it off and it remained off until things cooled down in the fall.

That year I would occasionally turn it back on to wash the dishes or to take a bath.  I liked the water really hot for those activities. The “warm” tap water was fine for showers and the occasional hand washing.  And, in the summer, I’m more apt to shower to cool off than soak in a hot tub of water.

When I moved into my own place I continued the same routine.  As soon as it warmed up the hot water was turned off.  I found that I could take the water from my 100 foot black garden hose for dish washing.  In fact it was often too hot from that source and I’d have to dilute it with cooler water.  This simple solar hot water heater eliminated even more of my use of the standard unit.

Solar Hot Water Heater

My solar hot water heater at work in the sun.

When fall came, I decided to leave the hot water heater off most of the time.  The hose for hot water worked fine in the winter as well.  As for showers and baths it only took a half hour to bring the hot water tank up to temperature and so I would just flip the circuit when I was about to bath.

Occasionally I mention to people that I turn off the hot water in summer, but I have yet to find a like minded person.  It seems like such a logical thing to do.  I am quite surprised that no one else does it. I’d be curious to hear from you.  Do you turn off your hot water?  Do you have simple ideas for conserving energy around water heating?  If you don’t turn off your hot water – why not?

I was talking with one of my regular clients on Saturday night at the Hawaiian Experience Spa when I learned that he uses a traditional solar hot water system.  I was pleased to find a comrade in conservation.  The best news he shared was that he too turns his hot water heater off!

He’s much more sophisticated than I am.  He says for $40 you can get a 220 Volt timer for the system.  He figured the timer paid itself off in a matter of months.  His water heater goes on at 4:30 am for a half hour.  Just long enough to heat the water so he can take his morning shower.  Sweet! eh?

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