Turn your plumbing green and begin saving time, water, and money!
If you are like most people, you start your day by running water down the drain while you wait for hot water to arrive at the shower. If your home has the water heater on one end of the house, and the master bath on the other end of the house, then you may have quite a wait. Not a good green plumbing layout.
In such homes it is not uncommon to find that the occupants leave the hot water running in the shower while they go do something else, and return to find the water hot and ready for their shower.
This means that not only is water being wastefully run down the drain, but it’s hot water as well. Heating the water is actually much more expensive than the cost of the water. It’s like throwing money down the drain.
Hot water delivery systems can turn your plumbing green and you save water
There are a number of hot water delivery systems on the market that you can install in your home to eliminate this problem. Some of these systems run continuously (cycling on and off), and some run only when you want to use the hot water. They all save you water, but there are differences in things like cost, speed, convenience, and energy usage. Let’s explore several of these systems.
The systems that run continuously are known as hot water circulating systems. They typically have a hot water pipe that leaves the water heater, runs past each sink, and then returns to the water heater. A pump circulates the hot water through the piping to keep the pipe full of hot water. You have instant hot water whenever you want it. Just turn on the tap.
Normally this type of system would need to have been installed during construction of the home. To install one would be expensive since you need to access plumbing that is behind walls and under floors etc.
Recirc and circulating systems have some problems…
Circulating systems have some problems though. For one thing they waste a huge amount of energy. It takes a lot of heat energy to keep the piping full of hot water. It’s like a huge radiator sucking the heat out of the water heater. The water heater has to work harder and may not last as long either.
The lost heat energy is much greater than the pumping energy being used, as the pumps typically are very small, but none the less, the pumps do consume energy while they are running.
There are ways to reduce the energy consumption of such systems. One popular method is to use a clock timer to inactivate the systems during periods of little use. It does save energy, but it can be inconvenient if you want water during one of the times the system is not running.
Another way of reducing the energy consumption is to have the pump controlled by the water temperature in the piping. For example, you could have the pump turn on when the water in the piping drops below 100 degrees, and turn off when the temperature reaches 110 degrees. This helps a little but not much.
There are a number of companies that manufacture hot water circulating systems including Grundfos, Taco, and Watts.
Cold water return type circulating hot water delivery systems
If you want to install a fast hot water system in an existing home, there are a class of pumping systems that use the cold water piping as the hot water return line, and this makes them much for suitable for retro-fit applications. These cold-water-return-line systems come in two varieties… circulating systems and on-demand systems.
The circulating systems are similar to the previously discussed circulating systems that required the return line from the end of the hot water piping to the inlet of the water heater. They are temperature controlled and work very much the same as the previously discussed systems except that the temperature set points for the pump are much lower. Otherwise you end up with hot water in your cold water lines.
With these systems you have instant luke-warm water instead of instant hot water. Some systems have the pump located at the fixture furthest from the water heater, and some have the pump at the water heater and a valve that mounts at the furthest sink.
The temperature controlled circulating systems using cold water lines for the return suffer from some of the same problems as the standard circulating systems such as the consumption of a large amount of energy to keep the piping full of warm water. Plus, if you really want hot water, you still have to run the luke-warm water out of the line first. You may get hot water more quickly than with a standard plumbing system, but not a whole lot faster.
If you have a tankless water heater then your water takes even longer to get since with the tankless units you have to first heat the water and then get it to the fixture. The aforementioned pumping systems will not work with tankless water heaters.
On demand hot water systems are greener
On Demand hot water systems are another type of fast hot water pumping system that can be retrofit to existing plumbing systems. It too uses the cold water piping as the return line to the water heater. With the on demand system nothing happens until the user “demands” hot water by activating the pump.
The pump is located at the furthest fixture from the water heater. When someone presses the start button the pump comes on and pumps hot water through the r piping, into the cold water line and back to the water heater. When hot water reaches the pump it shuts off. That way the cold water line does not end up full of luke-warm water.
These hot water systems have a number of advantages over the other systems. They do not run continuously or cycle on and off, so they do not consume any more energy than a standard plumbing system. Since they use the cold water line as the return, they are easy to retro-fit. They typically use $1 to $2 per year in electricity to operate. They can be used with tankless water heaters, or any water heater for that matter.
Hot water on demand systems are green and save water
On demand hot water systems are manufactured by Chilipepper Sales, Metlund, RedyTemp, and Taco. Chilipepper Sales manufactures the CP6000, the least expensive system with the most powerful pump of any. Metlund produces several models of it’s “D’mand” system, some of which work with tankless units and some which don’t. Taco has a system identical to the Metlund D’mand system.
Fast hot water delivery systems have demonstrated savings of 15,000 gallons and more per year. Since these systems can save so much water, and can even save energy while doing so, and since they ad convenience to our lives, we have to consider them green products. Bright green. They save you time, water, energy, and money while reducing green house gas emissions.
Install an on demand hot water system in your home today and make yours a green plumbing system.
Start enjoying the benefits of faster hot water while feeling good about it every time you use hot water.