Approximately 80-90 percent of the energy used to heat water in your home is washed right down the drain, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Though you may not think about it, a great deal of energy is expended in the simple process of creating warm or hot water. This water is used in many places throughout the home, from showers and sinks to dishwashers and clothes washers. You can save energy and improve the overall efficiency of your home by installing a drain water heat recovery system.
What is a Drain Water Heat Recovery System?
A drain water heat recovery system is an innovative solution that recaptures the energy used to heat water in your home. Incoming cold water passes through a designated pipe or reservoir in the system where it’s preheated using the warm wastewater previously washed down the drain. The warm wastewater and fresh cold water never mix, though the heat passes from one to the other.
Storage Reservoir Systems
There are two main types of heat recovery systems for the home. The best option is a system with a storage reservoir. This allows you to store the preheated water for use at a later time, maximizing the usefulness of the system.
A reservoir system has a storage tank for incoming cold water. A coil in the bottom of the tank holds previously heated water. As the warm waste water flows through this coil, it transfers its heat to the cold water waiting in the tank above. This preheats the water before it goes through the water heater. Though your water heater will probably heat the water a little more, the step of preheating it reduces the amount of energy that’s ultimately used in the process.
The second type of drain water heat recovery system is smaller and simpler to incorporate into your plumbing. This system features a copper intake pipe tightly coiled around the drain pipe. Cold water coming into the system passes through this coiled pipe. Hot water coming through the central drain pipe passes its heat on to the cold incoming water, preheating it.
The drawback to a non-storage system is that you will only enjoy the benefits when you’re simultaneously using heated water and washing it down the drain. The water you have just used will heat the water that’s flowing into the system. For example, as you take a shower, the water you’ve just enjoyed will help preheat water you’re about to use.
Benefits of a Heat Recovery System
If you’re interested in reducing your carbon footprint and helping the environment, a drain water heat recovery system is an effective place to begin. This type of system is simple and relatively easy to install, though you should rely on a professional to do it. There are no complex moving parts so it’s difficult for the system to break down or stop working. By preheating your water, you’re reducing the amount of energy that’s needed to fully heat water as it flows through the water heater.
A heat recovery system will also help you save money. Your utility bill will reflect the fact that your water heater is using less energy. A drain water heat recovery system can usually pay for itself in 2.5 to 7 years. If you use hot water frequently, you’ll notice the cost-saving benefits of this type of system almost immediately.
When you have a heat recovery system in your home, you can often manage comfortably with a much smaller water heater. With Florida’s warm weather, your heating needs may be minimal to begin with, especially in the summer months. Since you don’t have to worry about freezing pipes or other extreme issues, a small water heater and heat recovery system may be all you need to sufficiently warm your water.
If you’re looking for even more ways to reduce your impact on the planet and save money, try incorporating some water saving tips into your daily routine as well. If you use less water, there’s a greater chance that a storage reservoir system will be able to supply all your hot water needs with preheated water.
For more information on this and other plumbing issues, contact us at Aqua Plumbing & Air. We provide plumbing repairs and services in the Sarasota area.