Doug Rye, licensed architect and the popular host of the "Home Remedies" radio show
Some Like it Hot -- Instantly
Instant hot water doesn't have to cost a mint
Instant hot water is a dream of every homeowner in America. Unfortunately, there is a quote in the builders' bible that says, "Locate the water heater at the farthest point from usage." Oh, that's your house? You mean to tell me that although the water handle has an "H" on it, the water is cold -- well why is that? You mean you don't immediately get in the shower when you turn the hot water on? Why not? "Because it is going to take 30 seconds, 60 seconds to five minutes for the hot water to get there and it is really cold," you say.
Well, you've already figured it out. You turn the hot water on but the water heater is so far from the fixture that it simply takes a while for the hot water to get there. So on the way to the fixture, the hot water that you paid to heat turns cold and you run it down the sink and you waste not only energy but also water, which is another precious resource.
A good friend of mine from Ozarks Electric Cooperative in Fayetteville, Ark., Mr. Keith Kaderly, called me recently and asked, "Do you ever write or talk about re-circulating water systems on a house?" I said, "Occasionally, I do." He said that he had received several calls from members about their electric bills and that five of those calls were from members who had re-circulating hot water systems, which provide instant hot water at each fixture, such as you have experienced at most hotels.
Do these systems work? "Yes." Are they expensive? "Yes." The average residential hot water re-circulating system will use $50 to $75 per month of electricity (that's last year's energy costs). No, I'm not kidding - that's $50 to $75 a month, just for the re-circulating water system!
How do re-circulating systems work and why do they raise electric bills? First of all, re-circulating water systems typically operate 24-hours-a-day. They circulate hot water from the water heater, through a loop to your shower and sinks, etc., and then return the water to the water heater.
The reason your electricity costs are that high is due to the fact that you are paying for the pump to run 24 hours a day, plus you are losing heat from the system through the loop. That, in turn, heats your house 24-hours-a-day. In the winter that may be fine, but not in the summer when that heat loss means that your air conditioner will run more. Regardless of the time of year, your water heater may never cut off. By the time the water leaves the tank and comes back, it has cooled off some and the heater has to continuously keep adding BTUs to it.
If you feel that you simply must have a re-circulating hot water system, you can place it on a timer and save some electricity and water. But here's another option. My wife's new house has instant hot water without using a central circulating system. In the design process, we simply placed a water heater close to the master bath, one close to the kitchen and one close to the laundry area. Yes, before you ask, we did use the Marathon water heater. (Marathon electric water heaters are among the most energy-efficient water heaters on the market; www.marathonheaters.com).
If you have an existing house and did not plan accordingly, you are still in luck. With the Got Hot Water system, you can use a remote control to turn on a pump that brings hot water to your bathroom sink and shower. So, when you wake up in the morning, just use your remote to the turn on the pump and when you are ready to take your shower, the hot water will be there. No more waiting for five minutes on a cold winter morning to get in the shower. You won't waste any water and your electric bill won't soar to new heights. To learn more about this system, go to www.gothotwater.com. And, of course, you can also call me for information at my office at 501-653-7931.
P.S. Keith, I hope that answered your question!
Doug Rye, a licensed architect and the popular host of the "Home Remedies" radio show, works as a consultant for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas to promote energy efficiency to cooperative members statewide. To order Doug's video, call Doug at 1-888-Doug-Rye. More energy-efficiency tips can also be found at www.ecark.org.
© 2007 Illinois Country Living Magazine.