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Water Heater on a Timer?


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Last year I had an electric water heater (Chauffe-eau) fitted in our French holiday home. This replaced an old and potentially lethal ascot type gas heater. I'm very pleased with the new appliance as there is virtually nothing to go wrong and although only 30litres in capacity, it supplies ample hot water at a very high temperature. When showering, for example, approximately only 10litres of hot water is used, as it has to be mixed with about 20 litres of cold for a comfortable shower. It is wall-mounted and sits quietly in a corner of the bathroom and we just leave it alone - brilliant!


However, when it was installed the plumber said the appliance should be left switched on all the time when we are at the cottage. He said the thermostat would ‘kick-in’ every so often to keep the water at the maximum temperature.

We just turn the heater off when we leave and close up the cottage.


My question is this: Generally we only need hot water in the mornings and evenings, for showers and washing up, etc. Therefore, would it not be more economic to fit a timer so that the water heater comes on twice a day? For example, 0600 to 0800 and then again at, say, 17.00 to 19.00. The heater only takes about 40 minutes to heat up (from cold) and once the water is at maximum temperature, it remains quite hot for a good 8-10 hours if the appliance is switched off.  

It would not be heating from cold twice daily. Just from hot to very hot.


Does anyone have any thoughts or advice on this? I’m just looking to cut down my electricity bills!


Thanks for any info or advice.


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If you are regularly using water from the ballon when you are there I would leave it on all the time, it is very well insulated and will use the same amount of electric to "recharge" when the thermostat kicks in normally as it would when switching on once or twice a day.

But if left on all the time you will have the benefit of the full 30 litres all the time, I would leave it on but also reduce the temp as suggested.

If you have an heures creuses abonnement for electricity then it should be wired to only charge during the cheap tariff heures creuses.

I have heard of someone that has a holiday let that has fitted a timer switch that operates for 24 hours when pressed, this way the changeover cleaner or the guests when they arrive press the button to begin heating the ballon, they have to do this each day to maintain hot water supply but the beauty is when they leave, it automatically switches off.

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You really have to think carefully before changing to HC/HP: if it is a

holiday home only used a couple of times a year, you might very well

end up paying more in the higher abonnement than you might save in the

lower tariff.

I'd get a timer and give it a go, although the saving is probably marginal.

I imagine the OP doesn't want to turn the temperature down because

he'll run the risk of emptying the chauffeau; after all 30L isn't much

for a couple of showers (I've used that much by the time I've shaved

and washed my hair ! ).


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Hi everyone,

Thanks for all your replies - very useful.

Gyn_Paul - actually I asked the plumber about putting in a 100 ltr tank. He recommended the 30ltr one as:

  • It heats up very quickly, so is more economical. (We turn the electricity on when we arrive at the cottage. By the time we have unpacked the car and had a cup of tea, the water is hot.) Appparently the larger tanks can take ages to heat up.

  • we can easily get three good showers out of the tank as the water is so bl--dy hot!

I'll try turning it down and see what that does.

Thanks again folks.



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