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How Often Does A Water Heater Run?

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases.

Have you found yourself wondering how often a water heater runs? Perhaps you are considering installing one in your home and want to know how often it will be running?

Or maybe you want to know if your heater is on for too long? Whatever your reason might be, we have the answers for you! 

We all love the convenience of hot water whenever we want it. Whether it is a soak in the tub, or battling through a pile of dirty dishes, hot water is essential for all of us.

But with the rising costs, the last thing we want is to spend a fortune on our energy bills!

So today, let’s find out how often a water heater runs to give you a better idea of the amount of energy that they consume.

You will also find out why your water heater turns off and what you should look out for when inspecting your water heater. Keep reading to find out more! 

How Often Does A Water Heater Run?

How Often Does A Water Heater Run?

Let’s get right into it! Typically, a water heater will run for 3 to 5 hours a day.

Now, this is a very general answer and the time varies depending on the type of water heater, its storage capacity, temperature, efficiency, and the number of people using the hot water.

The location of your water heater also plays a vital role. If your heater is in a cold part of your house or is not well insulated, it can take even longer for your water to heat up. 

If you have a small hot water tank and six or seven people are using the water, then your heater will need to work harder to meet the demand.

The same applies if your heater is set to a high temperature, your heater will need to be on for longer to ensure the water reaches those temperatures. 

While this is the case for older heaters, newer and more energy-efficient models don’t tend to have this issue. They can heat the water quickly and retain the heat for longer.

We do recommend if your water heater is over ten years old and you are experiencing some issues with water pressure or temperature, to consider replacing it with a newer model. 

In terms of how long it takes for the water inside your heater to get hot will depend on the type of heater you have.

Gas water heaters take roughly 40 minutes to heat the water, while an electric heater will take longer, between approximately 60 to 80 minutes. 

Of course, these times vary on the amount of water in the tank and also where the tank is placed.

If your water tank is in a cold area of your home or garden, then it will take longer for your water to heat up and reach the set temperature.

But you can use these timeframes as a rough guide to follow. 

Different Types Of Water Heaters 

As we mentioned briefly above, water heaters can be separated into two different categories, gas and electric heaters that are powered by either gas or electricity.

They tend to work in the same way, heating water with the assistance of a heating element.

Once you have set the temperature on your water heater, then the water will be heated to that temperature. 

The water is then kept in the tank ready for when you need it. So you can have a hot bath when you want or wash some dishes at a time that suits you.

When you turn on your tap or shower and your hot water rushes out, your water tank will draw in cold water, replacing the hot water that it has lost. 

The tank will get to work again, heating this cold water to ensure that you always have a steady stream of hot water to meet your demand.

Now, some heaters will come with a timer that you can use.

These timers will ensure that your heater only heats water for a set period in the day, say 3 hours at night.

Then, throughout the day, your water heater will not heat any more water.

This is a good option for smaller households or those that like a quick shower, but we warned that you can be left with a cold bath if all your hot water has been used! 

How Much Energy Does My Water Heater Use?

How Much Energy Does My Water Heater Use?

It’s common knowledge that water heaters can use a lot of energy, taking up around 14% of a home’s electric usage!

Just think about how often you use your water to cook, clean some dishes, do your laundry, and have a shower.

There are lots of factors pulling on your water supply which can send your electricity bill through the roof! 

Let’s take a quick look at how much this could cost you. On average, water heaters run for 3 to 5 hours a day.

If your heater uses 4,500W and is on for 3 hours a day with an electricity rate of 12.52 cents, then it’s costing you $1.69 a day to run your water heater.

So you can expect to pay $50,7 a month or over $600 a year just to have hot water. 

Now, this is a general number. Remember, how much energy your heater uses will vary depending on the temperature setting, its age, the type of heater you have, and the amount of water you use.

But you can use our calculations as a rough guide to follow or to work out your energy consumption. 

As we mentioned earlier, opting for an energy-efficient heater is a great way to lower the cost of your energy bill.

You could also opt for a solar-powered heater too, which would use less energy for you.

Other ways you can reduce the cost of your energy bill are to place an insulation jacket on older heaters, cover pipes with pipe sleeves, and lower your heater’s temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. 

It is also worth turning your water heater off when you are away from your home overnight or on vacation (see also ‘Should I Turn Off The Water When I Go On Vacation?’). Not only does this prevent any leaks, but it can save you money!

When your water heater is on, a small amount of heat escapes, even if it’s not in use, wasting energy and costing you money.

By turning your water heater off when you aren’t using it, you can save roughly 10% on your energy bill! 

Why Does My Water Heater Keep Turning Off?

Have you found yourself enjoying a shower and then suddenly your water turns off? It is incredibly frustrating and leaves you shivering in the cold.

But there are a few reasons why this happens. Let’s take a look at them now. 

Electrical Glitch 

Electrical Glitch 

If your heater is an electric one, then the chances are it’s an electrical issue. It’s best to have an electrician inspect your heater and find the cause of this problem.

There are lots of electrical components which could be causing the glitch like your heating coil, thermostat, or a short circuit in your breaker that shuts your heater down when it tries to warm your water. 

Gas Thermocouple Failing 

Another cause is if your gas thermocouple fails. This issue is specific to gas heaters only, and is best left to a professional!

Your gas thermocouple is a safety device that senses when the pilot light is on and allows the gas to flow to the burner. When your pilot light is off, gas is not able to pass through. 

When your thermocouple fails, the pilot light turns off and no gas will flow to the burner, which means your water does not heat!

Now, it could be that your thermocouple just needs cleaning, or it might need to be replaced to restore your heater to working order.

Either way, it’s best to have a plumber come and carry out the work so that you know it’s done safely and correctly. 

How Can I Tell If My Water Heater Is Going Bad?

When your water heater starts to go bad there are a few signs that you can look out for.

It’s better to know what these signs are to save you need to pay for damages, more on your energy bill, or be without hot water!

Let’s take a look at the signs your water heater is going bad now. 

Your Water Isn’t Heating Up

If your water is cold or runs cold quickly when you run a tap or your shower, there might be a problem. 

Water Temperature Fluctuates 

If the water coming from your tap runs hot and turns cold in the next moment, it’s worth having an inspection. 

Your Water Heating Tank Is Leaking 

If there is water pooling under your tank or dripping from the pipes, you will want to get it repaired immediately. 

Noise Is Coming From Your Heater

If you can hear a clanging, knocking, or rumbling sound when using the heater it will need an inspection. 

Your Water Is Discolored 

This can be a sign of rust and corrosion inside the tank and you should get it looked at immediately. 

You Have Low Water Pressure 

This can be caused by a buildup of sediments that can clog your system. You will need to have this cleared out to restore your water pressure. 

These are just some of the signs you should look out for with your water heater. If you have an older heater, you might also need to replace any damaged components.

While this can improve the performance of your heater, if it is over ten years old, it can often be cheaper to put a new heater in newer models are more energy-efficient, helping you save some money on your monthly bills! 

Final Thoughts 

And there you have it! You can expect your water heater to run for 3 to 5 hours on average.

Of course, these times will vary depending on how much water you use, the size of your heater, its location in your home, the temperature it is set to, and the type of heater you have.

There is always a demand in our homes for hot water, so you can bet your heater is working hard to keep your showers hot and your dishes clean. 

Be sure to follow our advice for spotting any issues with your heater and remember to have an electrician, plumber, or gas engineer out to look at the heater if you have any concerns.

It is better to let a professional do this so you can be sure that the work is done correctly and safely.

After all, a hot bath isn’t worth getting hurt over or damaging your heater! 

author avatar
Charlie Hardcastle


On Key

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