Hot Water Basics

Where Does that Hot Water Come From?

Have you ever just wanted to soak in a nice warm tub? I'm sure while you are lounging around in your tub, the last thing on your mind is where did the hot water come from, but it is something to consider.

There are many types of water heaters. We will discuss the advantages and/or disadvantages of some of them.

Indirect water heaters use the heating system of the home to heat water. It is useful, but not very efficient.

Standard water heaters try to keep the water hot, and at a constant temperature. So, whether you are washing dishes, taking a shower, sleeping or on vacation, it is ALWAYS on and trying to keep that water hot. This can be a waste of energy and money with all that cost of electricity sitting in your water heater.

On demand water heaters heat the water instantly as you need it, using gas. This is more efficient, except you always have to keep the pilot light lit, which is also a waste.

So, let's discuss solar water heat. There are a few ways to do this. You can run a hose over the top of your house and let it get hot. Or, for more hot water, you could put a bathtub on top of your home and let it heat up. Then, you'd have a tubful. But, what if it's cloudy and the water only gets to 60 degrees F? Or what if it's really a scorcher and the water gets 180 degrees F? You'll want your water delivered at a constant temperature. How?

There are two types of solar water heaters-flat plate collectors (pipes) and batch collectors (tanks). Flat plate collectors run a fluid through black metal pipes that are insulated beneath and covered by glass above to gather and distribute the sun's heat effectively. Batch collectors are basically a tank painted black to absorb the heat. Hot water from these two sources can either be piped directly to the plumbing system or, more effectively, can be used to preheat the water going into the water heater, thus saving energy and money.

Once installed, solar energy is mostly free. What a way to relax.



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