Green Home Series: Installing a Drain Water Heat Recovery System

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In the competitive GTA real estate market, buyers are becoming more and more discerning when it comes to a home’s energy costs and environmentally-conscious features. Our new Green Home Series will take a look at some of the practical, effective changes you can implement in order to make your home more efficient and eco-friendly.

Ever wonder what happens to all that hot water that goes down the drain when you take a shower? Chances are, right now that water is going right back out of your system – and with it, the heat energy that was used to warm it up in the first place.

Drain Water Heat Recovery (DWHR) systems are a relatively new phenomenon, and one that could help you get some of that heat energy back. It looks like a special pipe, with a key difference from ordinary drain pipes: it’s wrapped in coiled copper that will capture the heat of outflowing drain water. That heat energy is conducted over to your home’s hot water tank, heating the incoming water to a higher starting temperature.

Along with taking steps to conserve hot water use, this system can help reduce the cost of warming the water with your gas or electric hot water tank – giving you a cost-efficient and green home. So, how much might you be able to save? ScotiaBank EcoLiving’s Cara Smusiak ran the numbers – and some of them might surprise you. For example:

  • The one-time cost to install a DWHR costs between $600 and $1,200.
  • If you are using an electrically powered water heater, your DWHR could save you energy costs of $171 to $278 each year!

Keep in mind, however, that a DWHR isn’t for all homeowners. You’ll get optimal energy savings out of one if there are two or more people living there, and showering on a regular basis. These units tend to work best with properties that have a central plumbing stack – it’s a lot more cost effective than having to install a separate DWHR for each shower!

DWHR units are just one example of the many energy-smart add-ons that can increase your home value in the eyes of energy-savvy home buyers. We’ll be taking a look at more of these projects in upcoming editions of the Green Home Series.

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