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Tankless water heaters save plenty of energy, but it doesn't translate into that many dollars. Typically you will save around $5 to $10 per month if that. The initial investment is likely to have been thousands of dollars. But by adding just a couple of hundred more dollars for a demand pump you can save another $10.00 a month, more than doubling your savings.
Not every home would need or benefit from such a system, but most would. It really depends upon your plumbing layout. If your water heater is very close to the fixture or fixtures, it's known as a point-of-use tankless hot water plumbing system, and you don't need nor would you benefit much from a pump.
However, if you tankless water heater is a long distance from your fixtures, especially if it runs through a slab floor, you really need a tankless water heater pump to speed up the hot water and stop the wasteful running of water down the drain while you wait.
The Australian government recently did a study on a number of models and types of tankless water heaters, and found that typically a tankless unit takes 10 to 20 seconds longer to deliver hot water to the fixtures. This is because unlike a tank type water heater which has piping hot water ready to flow, the tankless heaters have to first heat the water, and then get it to you.
Tankless water heaters do not provide instant hot water. It takes time to transfer heat energy from the burners or in the case of electric water heaters, the heating elements. With a big enough fire, or a whole lot of kilowatts you can heat it fairly rapidly, but there is no such thing as an instant hot water heater.
Estimates of the maximum savings you can expect from eliminating the wasteful running of water down the drain while waiting for it to get hot range from around 10,000 gallons per year for a 4 person family to as much as 16,000 gallons. (Grundfos claims 16,000 gallons per year in savings from their energy wasting circulating systems). For a comparison of various fast hot water systems use this link: Hot Water Pumps Compared
Once again, it depends on your plumbing layout. Long pipes mean long waits, and a long wait means lots of wasted water and possibly energy depending on your usage patterns.
The pump mounts under the sink furthest from the tankless water heater. It connects between the hot and cold water supply lines to the sink. When you want hot water you press the start button and the pump begins sending the hot water in a big loop out of the heater, through the pipes, into the pump, then into the cold water lines and back to the inlet of the water heater.
When the hot water reaches the pump it shuts off, and when you turn on the faucet you get nearly instant hot water.
Depending again on your plumbing layout, one pump can serve multiple sinks or in some cases the entire home.
For more information about how tankless water heater pumps work with various brands of tankless water heaters visit these links. Bosch Water Heaters, Rinnai Water Heaters, Takagi Water Heaters, Noritz Water Heaters.
Drought Solutions - A Water Conservation Product
If you live in a drought affected area then you know how valuable water can be... even if it doesn't cost that much money. Solving drought problems can't be done with just one technique or product, but by using all the tools at your disposal will help. The water heater pumps are water conservation products and are one more tool you can use to save water.
You've already started down the path to going green by purchasing that tankless water heater with it's inherent energy savings, so now finish the job by saving water. The addition of a pump to your water heater makes it a truly green water conservation product. Saving water saves energy since water needs to be pumped and treated and again when it is sewage. Reducing energy means reducing green house gasses and other pollutants.
Start saving time, water, energy, and money. Install a hot water demand pump today!