DIY Network

How To Install a Water-Heater Timer

Save money on electric bills with a water-heater timer, which enables you to set specific on and off times for water-heater operation.

More in Plumbing

save on electric bills with water heater timer
  • Time

    2 hours

  • Price Range

    $50 - $100

  • Difficulty



Step 1: Remove the Timer from Casing

This project works only with electric water heaters. Turn off the breaker that controls power to the water heater. Remove the timer from the casing (pictured), and remove the knockouts on the casing.

remove timer from casing

Step 2: Pick a Location

Select a location for mounting the timer near the water heater, and use the casing as a template for marking the mounting holes. Drill pilot holes, and secure the casing to the wall with screws.

Step 3: Remove the Power Cable

Use a circuit tester to verify that the power to the water heater is shut off. Then remove the main power cable from the water heater (pictured) and route it through one of the knockout holes in the casing of the water-heater timer.

remove main power cable

Step 4: Connect New Wires

Run a new cable (the same gauge as the old one) from the timer casing to the water heater. Strip about 1/2" of insulation from the wires, and connect them to the water heater. Return the timer to the casing (pictured).

connect new wires

Step 5: Complete the Project

Strip 1/2" of insulation from each wire in the casing. Connect the ground wire to the ground plug on the timer. Shape the bare wire ends so that each fits under the appropriate lug. Tighten the screws to secure the wires to the timer (pictured). Set the timer by inserting clips at the appropriate time markers. Turn the power back on.

tighten screws to secure wires to timer