Saving Water in Southern Homes – Hot Water Recirculation
Saving water is an important part of the Green movement, so let’s look at a neat way to save hot water every time you take a bath or shower. In an earlier post, I discussed WaterSense fixtures and their value in saving water. But the Hot Water Recirculating System will cut your water usage even more!
When you turn on the faucet, it takes some time before the water is warm enough to use. This is usually less than a minute, but let’s be honest – even if the water is warm enough in 20-30 seconds, doesn’t it usually run a minute or more before you get in? That’s 2 to 3 gallons of hot water that just ran down the drain unused every time someone takes a shower.
I’ve found a more convenient built-in way to save this water – and the energy used to heat it. It’s called on-demand hot water recirculation, but the idea is simpler than the title. Here’s how it works. I install a small pump that takes water from the farthest point of high demand (the picture of the pump at left is under the Master Bathroom) and returns that water to the input side of the water heater. You turn the pump on with a switch near the point of use, and a thermostat turns the pump off when hot water gets there. The water in the line gets reused, and the heat left in the water reduces the amount of energy required by the water heater.
Some of you will ask “why not just put the water heater closer to where the water’s needed” and you’re right. When I design a new home I try to locate all the hot water use points as close to the heater as possible to keep the pipe runs short. But on existing homes (and most new homes) there’s usually a point-of-use with at least 50’ of pipe between it and the heater.
The cost for a typical system starts at around $200 for the pump and sensor, plus $100 or so for pipe, fittings and the switch. Installation cost is around $100-200 in a new home, more in a renovation. If you would like to explore the possibility of using a hot water recirculating pump to save water in YOUR home, let me know. Together we can create a Green bathroom that is beautiful.