Green Plumbing Provides Water Conservation and Energy Efficiency

October 29, 2010 · 0 comments

in Green Travel

Green plumbing is the most energy efficient plumbing system that also provides for water conservation. Green products associated with plumbing systems are hot water demand systems and tankless water heaters.

Green plumbing products, energy efficiency, and water conservation 

Green plumbing is plumbing designed to be the most energy efficient and at the same time conserve the most water. This boils down to the hot water plumbing since the cold water side does not consume, lose, or waste energy or water. Typical products associated with such plumbing systems are tankless water heaters and hot water demand systems.

Hot water plumbing systems

The hot water plumbing is another story. The pipes end up full of hot water after each use, then cooling off, wasting a huge amount of energy.  Then the cooled off hot water in the pipes from the previous use must be purged in order to obtain hot water at the fixture the next time it’s used. This is not a good way to provide water conservation.

If the water heater is located a long way from the point of use, the water temperature will be lower at the fixture than at the outlet of the tank due to the heat energy lost along the length of the pipe.

Having identified the factors involved in efficient plumbing systems; water wastage and energy loss from the distribution piping, we can try to find ways to make the plumbing system more efficient.

Pipe Insulation

Insulating the hot water piping contributes to efficient plumbing.  Since while you wait for the hot water to arrive, you are wastefully running water down the drain, minimizing the wait for hot water will minimize the amount of water being wasted.

Part of the delay in the arrival of hot water is due to the fact that the piping material absorbs the heat from the water as it travels through the pipe, so when the hot water arrives it has already cooled off and you have to wait a little longer.  The longer the piping run is the worse the problem becomes.

By insulating the pipes, they do not get as cold and thus they absorb less heat from the hot water traveling to the fixture. Your hot water reaches you faster and you run less water down the drain. Insulating your pipes contributes to water conservation.

The temperature drop long the pipe on those long runs is less due to the insulation, resulting in more energy efficiency.

Point-of-use tankless water heaters

Tankless water heaters are seen as green products these days, but you have to be careful about opting for tankless.  Due to the capacity limitations and temperature rise limitations on tankless heaters, they generally best used as point of use water heaters. In other words they would be located at the fixture or fixtures where the hot water is to be used.

Point of use water heaters eliminate that long pipe run, virtually eliminating the energy and water wastage attributable to the distribution piping.

Hot water demand systems

If point-of-use water heating is not feasible with your plumbing layout, then consider a hot water demand pumping system. A hot water demand system is a pumping system similar to a standard hot water circulating system, except the pump only comes on when you demand hot water by pressing a button.

Pressing the button causes a small pump mounted under the fixture furthest from the water heater to begin pumping the hot water from the water heater to the fixture at high speed, turning off when it detects the arrival of hot water.

Then when you turn on the fixture you have instant hot water and no water was run down the drain. Demand systems only consume about $1 to $2 per year in electricity to run. Some models are under $200 retail, and are very easy to install, they hook up with hoses. They save you time, water, and money.

Plumbing products and a green plumbing layouts

Make your plumbing system green, add insulation if possible, and use plumbing products like point-of-use water heaters, and use a hot water demand systems if you can’t use a point of use tankless water heater. 

If you have long pipe runs, loop your hot water piping from fixture to fixture and install a demand system at the end of the line.

Save time, water, energy and money! Green Demand Hot Water Systems Explored and Compared: Save Water and Energy!

For more information about green tankless water heaters: Green Tankless Water Heaters Tankless and tank type water heater information.

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