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The concept of water conservation is not a new one, and industry has sprouted recently that addresses this in many ways. One is with hot water recirculation pumps to conserve water that is usually wasted while waiting for the hot to arrive say to your shower.
Industry insiders tout 11 thousand to 15 thousand gallons savings per year in a typical home. For a perspective shot, I used 3,700 gallons per month in January, February, July, & August of 2010 (4 people 3 BR 2.5 BA).
Here is an informative article about where our water comes from, along with some other conservation ideas. Although the Northwest and Boise Idaho is experiencing a record setting wet season, water & energy conservation are subjects near and dear to my heart.
From an energy savings perspective the pumps use as much electricity as a 40 watt bulb. There may not be as much savings when you consider heat loss through uninsulated pipes. If you use the provided timer and some pipe insulation, there will be more savings to be had.
On another down side, folks that are used to turning on the shower and waiting 3-5 minutes for the hot water to arrive are hard to break that bad habit. Instead of wasting cold water they compound the loss by pouring hot water down the drain. It is not always easy to teach old dogs new tricks.
From a pure convenience factor it is hard to argue with turning on the shower and getting hot water right now and all of the other appliances along the way. Each pump recirculates hot water from the water heater and cost is in the $400 -$500, less if we already have a project going simultaneously.
Levco has installed three types of pumps. Each time I do one, I notice that technology has been advancing and that makes me happy.
1 Grundfos units have a dedicated return line to the water heater. Grundfos also makes many other styles for different applications.
2 Laing brand has a recirculation that gradually pumps water back through the cold side to the water heater. This one has a temperature adjustment too.
3 Metlund brand brings a “wall of water” when you request it by pushing a button usually. The unit pumps the cold back down the cold side. This one is my favorite from conservation and energy savings. They also have other ways of triggering the flow.
At my home I mixed the potable “drinking” water with my tile floor radiant heating system. Technically this is a no-no but it works fine for me.
Each pump requires a 110 outlet in the vicinity. I usually fish the new wires from an existing outlet down into the cabinet and use a cut-in box to create an outlet. Kitchen sinks are even easier because they are already wired.
I installed one that is activated to bring hot water to the kitchen sink on demand. Now their entire dishwasher cycle is done with hot water rather than lukewarm increasing the cleaning ability dramatically.
Each brand and style has advantages and disadvantages the question is which one is right for you. I have interviewed each client to date and there is unanimous agreement that they would recommended a recirculation pump to everyone. Let Levco incorporate one of these fine units into a kitchen or bathroom remodeling project and you will be glad you did.