By Trish Holder
“How can I get hot water faster?”
It’s a question that many of us have asked, late at night, standing over the sink, eager to wash our face and go to bed.
I’ve been there. Before we built the Greenspiration Home, we lived in a home where the master bathroom was the farthest point from the water heater. We didn’t typically use much if any hot water in the evening before we made that tired trek to bed, so the water in the pipes was typically pretty cold by bedtime – at least too cold to splash into my face. So I would stand and wait. Wait and waste. My husband, who typically rises very early, faced the same problem each morning before he showered. I cringe at the thousands upon thousands of gallons of water we wasted.
No More Slow Hot Water
In the Greenspiration Home, we avoided much of this slow hot water problem with a central plumbing manifold system which routes hot water directly to each fixture through a series of dedicated pipes. Our master bath is located right next to the garage where the water heater and manifold is, so the hot water takes a short path to our bath, shower and sink faucets. We don’t have to wait more than a few seconds to get hot water from the tap. This solution worked for us, largely because of the layout of our house. All of the bathrooms are located pretty close to the hot water heater, and with the manifold system, the pipes are tiny so only minimal water has to be bled before we begin drawing directly from the water heater.
Still – I know what you are asking. “But how can I get hot water faster if my master bath is not located next to the water heater?”
That is precisely the situation we faced in our kitchen. In fact, our kitchen sink could not be located farther from our water heater. A recirculation system (which typically reduces water wait and water waste but increases energy usage) was not an appropriate solution because you can’t recirculate water in a manifold system. So we installed a small point-of-use electric water heater under our sink.
Faster Hot Water from the Tap
A point-of-use electric water heater worked great for us because we get instant hot water from the tap and the heater does not use any electricity unless water is flowing so it is very efficient. Keep in mind, this heater is not boosting the temperature of the hot water from our tank; rather it is doing all the work itself. Water is heated instantaneously, so like a tankless heater (and it is tankless) the hot water supply is endless, not that we require huge volumes of hot water from our kitchen sink. The one caveat is that the heater we chose requires a voltage of 240V, which is a higher voltage than electricians are accustomed to bringing inside a home. So if you are building a new home and plan on using a point-of-use water heater, you need to check on the required voltage and give the electrician a heads-up if it is 240V. If you are upfitting an existing home, an electrician as well as plumber may need to be involved.
Personally, I don’t think enough consideration is given to point-of-use water heaters as a solution for distant fixtures. It’s a great option for those who have a central plumbing manifold system, which has many benefits on its own but eliminates recirculation as a possibility.
So the next time you are lamenting all the water waste in your home and asking, “How can I get hot water faster?” consider a point-of-use electric water heater. It is a (relatively) simple solution, plus it saves water and energy!