Saturday, November 6, 2010

Hot water update

I exchanged an e-mail or two with plumber and he said that it's not worth insulating the hot water pipes because my basement is fairly warm.  He also counseled against a recirculation system since it's costly and will erode my energy gains.

To solve the shower pressure problem, he suggested switching to just one shower head.  Now, I'm smart enough to know that only one shower head will have more pressure, but I didn't realize it would achieve fire hose level.  I took a shower for the first time this morning with just one shower head and it felt a little like sandblasting.  I feel really clean, but the pressure was bordering on painful.  I may need to get a shower head to restrict the pressure a bit or perhaps I can get a restrictor to put in series.  Anyhow, there are many ways to reduce water pressure so it's a good problem to have.

The impression I'm getting from people, including the plumber, is to man up on the hot water wait time at the faucets.  It seems I was spoiled before because the water heaters were set at a high temperature.  I guess I'm greedy because I want instant as well as continuous hot water.  I had asked about the efficacy of a point of use (POU) electric heater at each faucet and the plumber said it would help speed up the heating process, but he didn't comment on whether I would still come out ahead from an energy perspective.

An Ariston electric POU electric heater would provide either 2.9 or 3.9g of hot water using a 1.5kW heater.  It's hard to estimate the energy hit because 1.5kW is the peak power and the heater wouldn't need to kick on often or for very long as it takes about 30s for the tankless to provide hot water to each faucet.  The heaters are about $200 so I might get one and have the plumber install it in the main bathroom when he installs the new toilet.  I'll try it out and see how much it improves the situation because I like to wash my hands in warm water, but I don't want to wait 30s for the water to heat up.  A lot of cold water would flow in 30s which would cause my water bill to spike.

It is possible for me to install both the toilet and the electric heater, but I'm worried the conditions will be less than ideal in my bathroom.  I'm not sure in what condition the plumbing is in and the install quote I got is reasonable.

The situation may be closer to worst case since it's just me here.  A larger family would use water more often so there would be more hot water in the pipes.  However, I don't think the financial cost nor the extra energy will be extravagant since it'll cut down on water waste.  The heater will take up space under the sink, but I don't consider that a real downside since I store nothing there.

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