hot tap

One Hot Plumbing Invention

1 August 2013

When it comes to hot water systems, there are new technologies hitting the market all the time. And most of them generally offer only small efficiency gains over the models they replace.

That may all be about to change, because an inventor in San Diego has created and is currently testing a water heater system that could offer energy savings of 50-90%.

And he has found the solution in one of the strangest places – cold water. Hot water from cold water may sound like a pipe dream but apparently it is actually possible. Inventor Hal Slater claims to have built a system that works on this principle.The system works on the basis that most cold water supplied to households in temperate climates averages around 21°C, which the researchers say is 8° to 11°C warmer than it needs to be. By using a small water-to-water heat pump, the system extracts this excess heat from water in a 76 litre cold water tank and delivers it to a typical 189 litre water heater.

With grant funding from the California Energy Commission, Slater teamed up with a research team from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), to test the system.

Slater said that the system performed better during the summer months when the cold water is over 26°C, providing more heat that can be extracted. In the winter months, the incoming water temperature dropped to 13°C, which is the temperature the cold water tanks are set to. The system basically reverts to an electric water heater at those times.

According to Slater, test results showed an improvement in water heating efficiency by as much as 50% over heating systems currently available. Slater has patented the system and is now seeking funds to manufacturer and commercialise the system.

With Australia’s warmer climate, this exciting technology could greatly reduce the cost of hot water for most Australian homes. We’ll keep you posted as it develops.

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