A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

Instant on Hot Water

    Do you remember in the movie “Arthur”, where an apartment was advertised with IOL, instant on lighting. It seems that IOHW is becoming a standard desire.

With energy and water conservation being frequent issues in the news, we are more aware of making our homes meet these standards, but we do want our quality of living to improve. We leave our shower running in the mornings until the warm water is flowing before we step into that chamber. I have seen people turn on various faucets to help speed this process up. A nice bit of water is wasted there. Others have turned the temperature setting up on their hot water heaters in hopes of having the hot water come faster, which is just a waste of energy. I have also seen small water heaters for individual faucets, or homes with water heaters in different sections to ensure quick hot water, which is also an energy waste. Here are some steps to take to conserve both energy and water:

1) Insulating your pipes. Insulating the hot water pipes helps retain the heat in the pipe, instead of it dissipating into the attic. This may be a small step, but every little bit helps, and pipe insulation is a cheap and simple step.

2) Buy a tankless water heater. These heat the water when it is demanded. The typical tank heater keeps the water at the set temperature, so it will be heating the water even if you are not using it. So the energy savings are good. Also, most of us do not maintain our hot water tanks like we should, so hard water causes build-up, which in turn leads the heater to work harder to heat the water in the tank.

3) Some new homes have a recirculating hot water system built into the structure. The idea is that the water in the pipes is flowing through the pipes back to the heater when not in use, so the water is always heated. Turn on the faucet, and voila, IOHW! Now there are two neat tricks to this idea. If you have an existing house, there is a product which can be installed to imitate this system without installing a return pipe. It comes in two parts, one hooks up to your heater and the other to the sink furthest from the water heater in the line. It uses the cold water line as the return line, so your water will be hot when needed. Now here is the second trick, you can program this device so it turns on only at times when you will need this hot water (like when you usually take your morning shower), so you are only heating the water when you need it. This idea combines energy and water savings.

There you go IOHW. To implement all of these steps will cost you in the area of $1000 for a typical home. I know that insulating you home gives you a tax break, but I recall that the tankless heater will give you a tax break too. This plan can also be implemented in stages; the biggest cost will be the heater, so it could be saved for last.

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4 Comments»

  Supertank wrote @

There is a system in Australia that sounds like the reciculating ‘imitator’ except you don’t need the bit attached to the heater. I think you just put it near the faucet and it somehow pumps the cold hot water (the bit at the start) back to heater through the cold water pipe. I think it costs about $500 (AUD) including installation. I think its called ‘DUX’ or something.

You also didn’t mention solar hot water heaters. They use the sun to heat the water and store it in a tank. Thats probably the most economical option in the long run

  frankschulteladbeck wrote @

There are many developing heaters that do not rely on gas and electricity, and solar is at the forefront of these units. My first experience with a solar heater was in Spain during winter. The cloud cover really affected the unit’s performance. In Texas, we have some similar issues. There is a means to correct this aspect of a solar heater, and that is to use the panels to recharge batteries that can provide the power needed during low generation times. However, as in any tank version of a heater, you will need to size the tank appropriately to have hot water for the house.

  mrtony357 wrote @

I found an awesome invention that makes instant hot water a snap! It’s a water conservation device that saves water and also saves me a bunch of time! I got a Hot Water Lobster Instant Hot Water valve a few months ago and it’s awesome! It’s a recirculation system that needs no electricity or pump! I don’t waste water down the drain waiting for the water to get hot anymore in the shower. It’s quite convenient to not have to stand waiting for the kitchen water to warm up too! I think it will pay off pretty quickly. I paid only $179.95 at their website. It was super easy for me to install! I think everyone should get one if you want to save water, time, and energy! One unit was enough to work for my whole house! Here’s their site… Check it out:

http://www.hotwaterlobster.com

  frankschulteladbeck wrote @

Mr Tony,
it sounds like you work for the firm. It looks like an interesting product. I have not seen it before, but it uses a similar method to the one described in the post, without the use of power, which is nice.


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