Hot water recirculating loops are frequently billed as a green feature that can save water and money. However, in many cases, they are highly inconvenient, and a push-button hot water system may be more effective for Williamsburg, VA homeowners. While recirculating loops can be effective at saving water to some extent, the nuisance they create for homeowners often isn’t worth it.
In addition, these recirculating loops often end up using more energy than a more traditional system with a compact design. Even a well-designed recirculating loop system will use more energy. Consider the following:
- They take more pump energy: The worst systems will use a pump that constantly runs. There are some systems that are a bit better that are demand-controlled with occupancy sensors or buttons, but even then, the pump energy never goes down to zero. There’s always some operation happening.
- They have pipe insulation issues: Even if the system has insulated pipes, that insulation is probably insufficient to the point where the benefits it offers are negligible. Given this lower R-value, plus the small diameter of piping, it’s likely the loop water will lose heat faster than it would if stored in a water heater. During the summer, the water in the loop system will fight with the air conditioning system.
- The piping size can be problematic: People with hot water recirculating loop systems will frequently have water passing through more pipes of larger sizes than otherwise necessary to get to a fixture. Higher quality systems will limit the size of the piping, but they’ll still be affected by other issues.
Avoiding the recirculating loop feature
It’s generally advisable for homeowners to avoid using these systems entirely. There are other effective ways to save water that don’t hobble you with the inconvenience and energy drains that these recirculating loops do.
If you do have a house that requires hot water on demand, there are some alternative strategies. One of the ones that’s been gaining the most attention from green plumbing enthusiasts of late is called D’Mand Kontrol, which works similarly to a recirculation system and can be retrofitted into many homes.
This system features plumbing that gets installed as normal. A small pump is installed under the sink in the bathroom farthest away from the water heater, and there are buttons to press for hot water in every room that needs it (either wired or wireless). Any time you need hot water, you simply press the button and the pump transfers water from the hot water line into the cold water line under the sink in the bathroom. The pump then stops when the temperature of the water at the farthest fixture is within several degrees of the “hot” setting.
The use of a push-button hot water system in Williamsburg, VA provides you with the same water savings you’d get from a recirculation loop without having to expend more energy. Plus, the systems are generally available for less than $1,000.
For more information about this alternative hot water system, contact the team at Healthy Communities.