Skip to main content
Faster Hot Water

Drought and a Bucket of Water

I've lived and worked in California for 37 years. As most people are aware we have been severely affected by drought for the past 5 years and it doesn't look like it will end anytime soon.

Water districts have been encouraged to implement tiered billing structures so that the more a customer uses the more they pay per gallon of water. They have also been urging people to conserve water any way they can.

There has been a big push to change landscaping to drought tolerant plants and to change fixtures to low flow versions. In many cases they have even offered rebates to help customers make the transitions. It follows that it is cheaper to get people to use less than it is to find more sources of water.

But there is one area that I am confused about. And this is true across the US and not just confined to California.

When I call a water district, and I have called 30 plus water districts around the US in drought stricken areas, and ask what can I do about the amount of water that I waste in the morning while I wait for it to get hot, the answer is some variation of get a bucket and use the water to flush your toilet or to water your plants.

I even asked my 79-year-old mom who lives in Arizona to call her water district and they told her the same thing. They suggest that she fill a bucket and lift it out of the tub to be used to flush a toilet or water some plants. Did I mention that she is 79?

Being an engineer I did some math. Water weighs 7.48 pounds per gallon and she wastes about 4 gallons waiting for it to get hot. A bucket with 4 gallons of water would weigh almost 30 pounds.

I will let you guess what she thought about that. To say the least it did not go over well so she asked for another solution. The options they gave her included move the water heater closer to her shower, install a hot water recirculation line or just live with it.

Fortunately for my mom she doesn't have to do any of those things. She had me install a hot water circulation pump that pushes the cool water in the hot line back to the water heater. She gets hot water in about 30 seconds without wasting more than a cup of water down the drain.

There are a number of hot water circulation systems that save thousands of gallons of water per year but the water districts don't tell their customers about them. That's what baffles me.

Now I certainly have an interest in them telling customers about the option of using a hot water circulation system. My son and I invented the system my mom has in her house and we have sold thousands of them around the country and a few outside the country as well.

Of course there are several other brands that have slightly different ways of doing the same thing. Save water.

And it doesn't require someone to make a major change to their lifestyles like carry around a 30-gallon bucket of water. You can push a button, activate a motion sensor or just turn on a faucet. Simple.

We (the manufacturers of said systems) aren't asking water districts to offer rebates for our products. We wouldn't say no if they did. We are only asking them to mention that there are other possibilities. Don't endorse any one product, just tell customers that there are options.

It's estimated that an average family of 4 can save 12,000 gallons or more per year. Why aren't these systems required in new construction by building codes? OK, that is a topic for another post.

With water so critical to everything we do, why aren't we talking about hot water circulation systems? Call your water district and ask them why they don't mention hot water circulating pumps. Then call Governor Brown's office or your representative and get them talking about something that really matters - water.

  • Was this article helpful?