I have not considered a timer because our schedules are not so predictable. I know we use hot water at peak times that tax the appliance so deeply that we run out of hot water, but that is a capacity issue and not the water heater itself. I am always home as I am on unemployment so that is a big problem and my main reason to keep the electric bill down...lack of money to pay for it, but my wife is a homemaker and about ready to have our fourth child, so a predictable schedule of having hot water is a huge issue. I know though, that I pay for that convenience of having hot water at the ready!
As for the boiler mate, you make some good points Rob. I guess I just assumed that having a boiler mate would be less expensive then having an electric hot water heater, basing my thoughts on the amazing difference my propane clothes dryer made versus my old electric clothes dryer. In that case, the propane dryer comes up to temperature so fast that it hardly uses any propane and gets the job done so much cheaper. In that case a BTU is a BTU whether it is electrically generated or propane generated, but in real world terms I noticed a big difference on my electric bill, but see no change in my propane bill. I just assumed that even with some stand by heat losses, I would notice a big change in my electric bill, but not in my propane consumption.
I know one area I could make a difference in, is in my coffee pot. I could not find a listing on it, but guess that it uses about 1500 watts. I get up early and drink a lot of coffee, so while I am looking at my hot water heater in disgust, in reality making a pot of coffee this morning at 03:00 when I got up, and keeping it on until 08:00 when I typically shut it off, uses far more then my hot water heater does in that time frame since I do not use any hot water in the morning and it is in stand by mode. If I was to make a pot of coffee, then shut my coffee pot off and pour the coffee into a thermos, I would actually save 7500 watts, or expressed in dollars, $1.28 per day. That is $38.50 per month which is more then I hoped for by getting rid of my hot water heater! In the course of a year that is $467.00 without an appreciable level of inconvenience
Of course that is assuming my math is right!