Tourist Tip #203 / Dood, Where’s My Hot Water?

In Israel, hot water doesn't always magically flow out of the tap. Here's what you need to know if you don't want to get stuck in the cold (shower).

If your Israeli travels take you out of the cocoon of your hotel and into a local’s home, be it to spend the night with family, visit a friend, or opt into one of Israel’s popular apartment rentals, chances are you'll meet the dood.

No, not the Dude or a dude – Jeff Bridges won't be there and (hopefully) there won't be any creepy strangers at the house you visit. But if you want to take a shower without freezing your tuches off, you’re going to have to get to know the dood.

The dood, Hebrew for hot water boiler, comes in two varieties: solar-powered (called a dood shemesh, or sun boiler) and electric. Most buildings constructed after the mid-1970s will be equipped with a solar-powered dood – which, in warmer months when there is plenty of sunlight, will have you covered for your freshening up – and an electric one for cooler or grayer days.

Some older buildings and even newer skyscrapers only have an electric dood, which has an on-off switch – in other words, unlike most Westernized nations, hot water doesn’t always magically flow out of the tap in Israel. First, one must turn on the dood, which in most homes looks like a light switch or a small red dial, and then, well, you wait. You brush your teeth, pick out your clothes, or crawl back into bed for a pre-shower power nap. It takes about 15-20 minutes, sometimes more, for the average water boiler to heat up enough for one person’s steamy sudsing.

And for those who think they can beat the system, a word to the wise: Dear reader, you should not simply keep the dood on at all times, flipping it on once and then going about your merry, heated-water way. That will jack up the electric bill (and, FYI, the price of electricity increases by about 6% in April), plus hot water boilers left on for hours on end have been known to explode.

So, when it comes to leaving on the dood, don’t try it at home, be it yours or someone else’s. Otherwise you may be left asking, "Dude, where's my plumber?"
 

Israel's solar-heated water portal