If your water heater is in the basement or on the other side of the house from the kitchen or bathroom, you may have to wait for quite a while for hot water when you turn on the tap. This is more than just an inconvenience, it's a waste of potentially thousands of gallons of water per year, and water is an increasingly precious resource. A recirculating pump can solve this dilemma.
The function of a recirculating pump is to keep hot water moving through the pipes so that it's available at the faucet immediately. It uses about the same amount of energy as a bathroom exhaust fan, and some systems are so efficient that the energy expenditure is even less than that.
If you choose to install a recirculating pump, you'll have some up-front costs, but you can keep these low by choosing a system that employs your existing pipes. A more extravagant system requires installation of an extra hot water pipe to provide a return path for unused hot water, but you can also choose a system that uses the cold water for the return path. In this type of system, the only expenses are the pump. a few extra pipe fittings and the labor to install them.
Other important components of a recirculation system include:
- A check valve, which ensures the water flows in only one direction. This is a requirement for any water circulation system.
- A temperature sensor, or aquastat, to monitor the water temperature and shut off the pump when it's high enough. This is an energy-saving feature that not all systems have.
- A timer to allow you to program the pump to come on when at times of the day when you usually need it. This is another optional energy-saving feature.