Effortless Energy Savings: How To Build A DIY Timer System For Your Water Heater

With the escalating costs of utilities, finding ways to save on your monthly bills is a concern for many homeowners. One of the significant energy guzzlers in your home is probably something you don’t think about until you’re facing a cold shower: the water heater. However, with a bit of ingenuity, you can reduce its energy consumption. 

In this article, we’ll guide you on how to build a DIY timer system for your water heater, ensuring energy efficiency without compromising on your comfort.

1. Understand Your Water Heater’s Operation

Before diving into the DIY timer project, it’s essential to comprehend how your water heater functions. Most water heaters are ‘always on’, meaning they continually maintain a set temperature, regardless of whether you’re using hot water or not. This constant operation leads to higher energy costs. By implementing a timer, you can control when your water heater is active, thereby saving energy.

However, if your water heater consumption is very inconsistent and problematic, or if you have any issues, do not try a DIY project. Instead, first consult a professional for water heater repair in Indianapolis. If the pros give you the go ahead, you can get started on the timer.  

2. Choose The Right Timer

There are various timers available in the market, but for this project, you would need a 24-hour programmable timer. 

These timers allow you to set specific on and off times throughout the day. You’ll want to select a timer with a battery backup to ensure your settings are maintained even during power outages.

3. Safety First

Before starting the installation, it’s crucial to take safety precautions. Turn off the power to the water heater from your main electrical panel. Verify that the power is off by using a non-contact voltage tester near the heater’s wires.

4. Connect The Timer To The Water Heater

After ensuring the power is off:

  • Open the access panel on your water heater.
  • Locate the two wires connected to the heater. There should be a ‘hot’ wire (usually black) and a ‘neutral’ wire (typically white).
  • Disconnect these wires.
  • Following the timer’s instructions, connect its wires to the water heater wires you just disconnected. Typically, the timer will have similar color-coded wires.
  • Secure the connections using wire nuts and ensure that they’re tight and secure.
  • Finally, mount the timer on a nearby wall or surface where you can easily access it.

5. Program The Timer

Now that your timer is connected:

  • Turn the power back on to the water heater.
  • Set the current time on the timer.
  • Program the timer to turn the water heater off during periods when you typically don’t use hot water. For instance, during work hours or overnight. Conversely, ensure it’s on a little before times of high use, like mornings or evenings.

6. Monitor And Adjust

The initial timings you set might not be perfect, and that’s okay. Pay attention to your hot water usage for the next week or two. Adjust the timer settings if you find that you need hot water during a period you’ve set it to be off.

7. Regular Maintenance

While the timer system will save you energy, it’s essential to ensure that your water heater is functioning optimally. Schedule regular check-ups, drain the tank annually to remove sediment, and inspect for any signs of wear or corrosion. A well-maintained heater combined with your new timer system will maximize your energy savings.

8. Educate Family Members

The last thing you’d want is a family member trying to reprogram the timer or mistakenly thinking the water heater is malfunctioning when it’s merely off. Ensure everyone in the house knows about the new system and how it works.


Building a DIY timer system for your water heater is an excellent way to save on energy costs. While the initial setup might require a bit of effort and adaptation, the long-term savings are well worth it. After all, energy efficiency is both eco-friendly and pocket-friendly. Embrace this DIY approach and take a significant step toward a greener home and a fuller wallet.