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Thread: Ideas for saving energy

  1. #16
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default energy

    That electric heater could "use up" the $120.00 rebate in increased energy costs in a matter of a few months. A coil wrapped around a tank will have such a small contact area that it would not even be worth the cost of the material to do it. A recirculation pump is NEVER energy efficient, it is a comfort item and will also add to the energy costs. A thermostat controlled one, if done in the conventional way will measure the temperature of the returned water at the water heater, not at the faucet where the water is used, so the water will not necessarily always be "instant hot water".

  2. #17
    Extreme DIY Homeowner Scuba_Dave's Avatar
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    I just finished a greenhouse, 7x10 x ~6' high - less then $30 cost
    With a sunny 70 degree day it was up to 107 at one point
    I'm going to build a solar air heating system to go in the greenhouse & hook it up to recycle & heat house air
    DIY Handyman (not 4 hire)
    I have enough to do to my own house

  3. #18
    Illinois Licensed Plumber SewerRatz's Avatar
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    Default Check your local codes

    I now I am a bit late in responding to your post. But I would check with your city or county codes about Pex. Illinois does allow for it but most of the northern counties do not allow pex or CPVC to be used.

    About the radiant heat, if you are considering it, also look into a snow melt system for your walkways and driveway. I have helped install a radiant heat and snow melt system for the Ray Graham Center for the blind in Burr Ridge a few years back. I am really surprised with Northern Illinois cold wet winters that radiant heat and snow melt systems are not more wide spread.

  4. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    That electric heater could "use up" the $120.00 rebate in increased energy costs in a matter of a few months.
    Yes, I assumed that from the start, but the price of propane has gone up so rapidly here and I don't see that situation improving any time soon. That's why I'm here, throwing all these ideas around and weighing my options. After 30 years of lugging wood around I'm ready to search out alternatives. Copious amounts of insulation, controlling air infiltration, natural lighting and solar collecting appear to be my better options with the least impact on the environment.

    I think I will use a secondary tank to temper the incoming cold water going into the water heater. Even raising the temperature to the room's ambiant temprature should provide a measurable amount of electrical energy savings. Perhaps an older, discarded water heater tank, stripped of it's outer shell and it's insulation would be an inexpensive solution to finding a cheap secondary tank. (Pressure tested first, of course!)

    As for using radiant heat under the sidewalks and the driveway to melt snow, I'm all ears. My garage enterance faces North and I know from experience that that location is the worst for snow and ice removal as it get no natural warming from the sun. My initial questions would be how to set the system up and what type of PEX to use. Someone mentioned an O2 barrier? Where do I purchase the correct PEX and the appropriate components?

    Frankly, the current administration's ideas of "Cap and Trade" scare the daylights out of me. I only see increased costs which ultimately land on the consumer's shoulders. I think we all need to put our thinking caps on and find ways, free from government interferences, to save energy and find workable alternative sources. We, the people, are good at that sort of thing.

  5. #20
    Illinois Licensed Plumber SewerRatz's Avatar
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    What city are you in, I can point you to a boiler supply company that can help you design a radiant heat / snow melt system and be able to help you with the proper materials.

  6. #21

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    Ron, (a.k.a. Sewer Ratz)
    I'm located near the Quad Cities, about 30 minutes from Moline.
    Thanks.

    As a side note, we have been touring homes these past two weekends as the Quad Cities Home Builders Association hosts their Spring tour of homes.
    I'm not seeing a lot of innovation when it comes to alternative energy. I guess new home buyers are not ready for the unconventional. They will spend a ton of money on custom ceramic bathrooms with multiple body shower heads, but not one dime for insulation around the hot water piping, go figure???
    95% of the homes had conventional HVAC systems and low budget or middle of the road water heaters. Not a single water heater that I saw used dielectric unions and only a few had expansion tanks. I didn't see a single radiant heat system save for electric mats under a very few bathroom floor tiles. Nor did I see any solar panels. Only one house used a light tube to bring in natural light to an otherwise windowless bathroom.
    Last edited by franck@geneseo.net; 04-25-2009 at 09:59 PM. Reason: Added additional comments

  7. #22
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Most of the new water heaters come with dialetric nipples that can have FIP connections directly connected to them...without a union...I do this all the time...

  8. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cass View Post
    Most of the new water heaters come with dialetric nipples that can have FIP connections directly connected to them...without a union...I do this all the time...
    See, I learned something new. I didn't know such a thing as a dielectric nipple even existed. But then two weeks ago I didn't know about dielectric unions either........
    Once the nipple is connected to the copper, can you tell from it's exterior that it is a dielectric nipple? Not all dielectric nipples have an indentation around thier middle.
    Interesting stuff, this plumbing business..........

  9. #24
    Illinois Licensed Plumber SewerRatz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cass View Post
    Most of the new water heaters come with dialetric nipples that can have FIP connections directly connected to them...without a union...I do this all the time...
    Here in Illinois it is code to use a dielectric union still or brass unions. The following is from the Illinois Plumbing Code. Underlining added by me.

    Section 890.350 Unions

    Unions may be used in the drainage and venting system when accessibly located above ground. Unions shall be installed in a water supply system within 5 feet of regulating equipment, water heaters, water conditioning tanks, water conditioning equipment, pumps, and similar equipment which may require service by removal or replacement. Where small equipment may be unscrewed, only one union shall be required.

    a) Drainage System. Unions may be used in the trap seal and on the inlet and outlet side of the trap. Unions shall have metal to metal seats except that plastic unions may have plastic to plastic seats.

    b) Water Supply System. Unions in the water supply system shall be metal to metal with ground seats, except that plastic to metal unions may utilize durable, non-toxic, impervious gaskets. Unions between copper pipe/tubing and dissimilar metals shall either be made with a brass converter fitting or be a dielectric type union.

    The officials in Illinois do not consider the dielectric nipples to meet the code for the connection of dissimilar metals.

    Quote Originally Posted by franck@geneseo.net View Post
    Ron, (a.k.a. Sewer Ratz)
    I'm located near the Quad Cities, about 30 minutes from Moline.
    Thanks.

    As a side note, we have been touring homes these past two weekends as the Quad Cities Home Builders Association hosts their Spring tour of homes.
    I'm not seeing a lot of innovation when it comes to alternative energy. I guess new home buyers are not ready for the unconventional. They will spend a ton of money on custom ceramic bathrooms with multiple body shower heads, but not one dime for insulation around the hot water piping, go figure???
    95% of the homes had conventional HVAC systems and low budget or middle of the road water heaters. Not a single water heater that I saw used dielectric unions and only a few had expansion tanks. I didn't see a single radiant heat system save for electric mats under a very few bathroom floor tiles. Nor did I see any solar panels. Only one house used a light tube to bring in natural light to an otherwise windowless bathroom.
    Was their any type of union installed on these water heaters? If not the plumbing inspector is not doing his job in that area.
    Last edited by SewerRatz; 04-26-2009 at 08:10 AM. Reason: Added a note to franck@geneseo.net

  10. #25
    Illinois Licensed Plumber SewerRatz's Avatar
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    About expansion tanks, Illinois only requires one to be installed if the water heater is installed on a closed system. For example if a check valve,PRV, or a backflow device is installed on the cold water system, then a expansion tank is required. If the water heaters are installed on the first or second floor of a home it would also require a Vacuum Relief Valve. Below from Illinois code. Oh a note about the Illinois plumbing code. Counties, townships, cities or any other jurisdiction has to follow the Illinois Plumbing code which is the minimum allowed, but they can make their rules stricter than what the Illinois Plumbing code requires. For example the code allows for CPVC water piping, in Du Page, Cook, and parts of Kane counties do not allow CPVC piping to be used.

    Vacuum Relief Valve. Where a hot water storage tank or water heater is located at an elevation above the fixture outlets in the hot water system, or if the storage tank or water heater is bottom fed, a vacuum relief valve as listed in Appendix A, Table A (Approved Standards for Plumbing Appliances/Appurtenances/Devices) shall be installed on the storage tank or heater.

  11. #26

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    Today was the final day of the Iowa/Illinois Quad Cities Home Builders Association Spring Home Tour. I made a point of looking at all the water heaters that I could. Bear in mind, all these heaters are located on the Iowa side of the Quad Cities and fall under Iowa plumbing codes. (which I know nothing about)
    There was not a single union observed on any of the water heaters I looked at. Some obviously had dielectric nipples, determined by the circular indentation around the circumference of the nipple and also the instructions on the heater itself that warned against applying direct heat to the nipple when sweating fittings. A.O. Smith seemed to be the prefered water heater in most new homes with the occasional Rudd or Rheem thrown in on occasion. Again, no one insulated their hot water runs. One home used two Rheem Marathon electric water heaters in series, plus the builder had the plumbing contractor include a hot water recirculating system that included a Grundfos recirculating pump. It worked because I went to the far bathroom and had hot water in about 3 seconds. Sadly, the hot run and return were not insulated and hung tight against the bottom of the floor joists making the addition of insulation nearly impossible. By the way, the Grundfos pump was sweat in hard, meaning no unions. What are these guys thinking?
    Nothing against the plumbing firm, but I'm actually glad I'm doing my own plumbing to my own specs.

  12. #27
    Plumbing Designer FloridaOrange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by franck@geneseo.net View Post
    I guess new home buyers are not ready for the unconventional. They will spend a ton of money on custom ceramic bathrooms with multiple body shower heads, but not one dime for insulation around the hot water piping, go figure???
    95% of the homes had conventional HVAC systems and low budget or middle of the road water heaters.
    Water heaters and HVAC equip are on the top of the list to be "value engineered" out of a project. Owners and developers see that they can save $x per unit to switch to a cheaper unit and out they go.

    I absolutely hate the term "value engineering". Usually there's little of either going on with that term.
    Matt
    Semi-professional plumbing designer
    Enjoying life in SW Florida

  13. #28
    DIY Junior Member
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    Back to your original discussion, I have had solar assisted electric water heating, and found it to work quite well. I would not own and electric system if it was not solar as well, they just aren't efficient. My system pumped water directly to the roof mounted solar panels when the thermostat demanded hotter water and detected that the water in the solar panels was hotter than at the thermostat. Worked well to keep the electric bill down.
    As far as radiant heat, it's a great idea. I have electric radiant in my lowest floor to offset temperature differential between downstairs and 1 1/2 floors up stairs. I'm not exactly in snow country, but still I find running the floor heat helps heat the upstairs just enough to keep the central heat from needing to kick in, reducing costs there as well. True, the electricity to heat the floor costs, but PEX just wasn't an option for us.
    I would think heating a basement floor would help heat your whole house a bit.
    Retrofitting double pane low-e windows that don't leak makes a HUGE difference in temperature comfort. So does insulating walls as well as attic. So does sealing up every possible air leak with caulk or expanding foam. It all adds up.

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