Conserve water; add another drought fighting tool to your water conservation tool box!
When you live in an area hit by drought, you want to conserve water in any way you can. Fortunately there is at least one way to fight a drought that actually makes your life easier, even adding convenience to your life.
The concept is simple; stop running water down the drain while you wait for hot water to arrive. Add a hot water on-demand system to your water heater. When you turn on the fixture you will have instant hot water!
How you might ask? Simple, use a hot water circulating system or a hot water on demand system to provide you with fast hot water and to eliminate the running of water down the drain while you wait. A typical family of four can save over 15,000 gallons of water a year with an on demand or circulating system.
Instant hot water adds convenience to your life while you fight the drought
Unlike most methods of saving water such as low flow toilets and low flow fixtures that create inconveniences for you, this method actually adds convenience to your life by reducing the amount of time you must wait. You feel good every time you use hot water because you realize you are doing your part to preserve our planets resources, fight the drought, and to reduce the amount of green house gas being released into the atmosphere.
Hot water circulating systems that use a dedicated return line are the fastest way to get hot water, but they have a few problems. With such a system the outlet of the heater is piped to the first fixture, and from there to the next fixture, and the next etc. The piping forms a big loop, with a return pipe from the last fixture that runs back to the inlet of the water heater. The water is circulated through the piping by a pump which can run full time, can be controlled with a timer, or can be controlled by temperature. Typically the pump would turn on when the hot water dropped to 100 degrees, and off at 120 degrees.
If your home was not plumbed for a circulating system when it was built, then it will probably be very expensive to install such a system. Running new piping through an existing building is very difficult.
Some types of systems waste energy
The aforementioned circulating systems waste a huge amount of energy keeping all of that hot water plumbing hot. The piping acts like a big radiator, radiating heat into the surroundings all the time that it is running. This not only costs more for the wasted energy, but makes the water heater work harder and puts more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.
The circulating systems will not work with tankless water heaters. Since tankless heaters need a minimum amount of water flowing through them to turn them on, the circulating system would either force the heater to stay on all of the time, or it would not pump enough water to turn the heater on. Either way they don’t get along.
Hot water on-demand systems – the green solution
There is a new type of circulating system gaining popularity these days, known as an on-demand hot water system. The pump is located at the fixture furthest from the water heater, and connects to the hot and cold water lines. An on-demand system only pumps the water to the fixture when hot water is demanded by the user. The user pushes a button to activate the pump, which speeds the water to the fixture without running water down the drain. You get your hot water faster than normal and don’t wastefully run water down the drain while you wait.
There are some systems that use a pump at the furthest fixture like the demand systems, but they don’t require someone to activate them by pushing a button. They are temperature controlled, turning the pump on and off to keep the water temperature at the pump at about 95 degrees. This provides you with instant luke-warm water, and wastes almost as much energy as the full time circulating systems. It also keeps your cold water piping full of tepid water, which means you won’t get cold water at the cold water taps anymore without a long wait.
I prefer the on demand systems because when the pump shuts off I have instant hot water, not luke-warm water, and when I want cold water it is there as well. There are a number of on demand type systems on the market including the Chilipepper Appliance, Taco Demand Systems and Metlund D’mand Systems.
Tankless water heaters take longer because they don’t have a big tank of heated water ready to go… they must first heat the water, and then deliver it. So you have to add the time it takes to heat the water to the time it takes to deliver it.
If you are planning on using the system with a tankless water heater, then you should check with the manufacturer since most Metlund D’mand system models and most of the Taco models will not work with tankless water heaters. The pumps just are not powerful enough. The Chilipepper appliance has the most powerful motor of any system and will run any tankless water heater with no problem. In fact, a growing number of tankless water heater dealers are beginning to sell Chilipepper pumps as accessories to the heaters.
Hot water circulating and on demand systems are typically easy to install and range in price from less than $200.00 to about $700.00.
Do your part to help protect the environment and conserve our natural resources… get faster hot water for your home today. Turn you water heater into a drought fighting tool!