Green Tip for Chicago Homeowners

With a lot of focus on green building and on how to make single-family homes more eco-friendly, condo owners are often left out when tips are being handed out about how to save money on energy costs. Today’s Green Tip is something any homeowner can use!

Hot Water Circulating Pumps
What is this thing and how will it save me money while helping me be more green?

First of all, let’s discuss the other types of hot water systems that use hot water tanks. Some systems have a tank that heats the water and holds it until someone turns on the hot water, then it sends hot water down the pipes to the faucet. This is the most common type of system. You can tell if you have this type by turning on the hot water and cold comes out first. Unfortunately, this system is relatively energy inefficient and wastes a ton of water while you wait for the water to warm up.

The next type of system is an on-demand hot water system. In a nut shell, it continuously circulates hot water throughout your pipes to give you instant hot water when you turn on the faucet. The good thing about this system is that it saves a lot of water. However, it is one of the most wasteful in terms of energy. Why? Because it sends hot water through the pipes away from the heat source (your water tank) causing the water to cool down as it travels, so it has to be reheated when the water returns to the water tank. That means the system is constantly running (whether or not you need it) and it is constantly using up energy.

Enter the Hot Water Circulating Pump
This little beauty can be retrofit for as little as $200, meaning it can be installed in your current setup just by adding the device and no additional plumbing work, which can be very expensive. What’s the benefit of installing a hot water circulating pump? Some reports show you can save up to 10,000 gallons of water per year, depending on the size of your home, in addition to getting significant energy savings!

This pump does several things and combines the positives of the other two tank systems. The pump comes with an on/off switch that can be installed near every faucet, so when you need hot water immediately, you can turn it on and wait a few seconds before turning on the faucet. Once turned on, the pump circulates water through the plumbing to your faucet, resulting in instant hot water. No more letting the faucet run while the water heats up, wasting countless gallons of water. The cold water that would have run down the drain is recycled through your existing system to be heated by your hot water tank. Once you are done with your morning shower or whatnot, you can turn the system off to save money on energy bills.

Some of these systems go one step better and come equipped with a timer that you can set to turn on right before you wake up in the morning and off when you leave for work. That way, when you go to shower your water is hot right away and when you’re away from home, it shuts off the pump to save energy and water!

Being a relatively new gadget, there is not much in the way of statistical data reflecting how much of an energy savings you will see from a cost perspective. However, with the rising price of energy and the significant decrease in energy use by the system, you should definitely see a monetary savings. These devices are worth the effort and will clearly pay for themselves over time, not to mention making your home more green in the process!

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