Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Improving hot water heating efficiency ... with cold water

 A prototype water heater system that uses cold water to make hot water pictured with Slate...

Apart from heating and cooling the house, water heating is one of the biggest energy drains in the average home. But what if you could literally use cold water to create hot water? That’s just what San Diego inventor Hal Slater claims to have done with the creation of a water heater system that promises to improve water heating efficiency by as much as 50 to 100 percent.

The system works on the basis that cold water supplied to households in temperate climates averages around 70° F (21° C), which the researchers say is 15° to 20° F (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 20-gallon (76 liter) cold water tank and delivers it to a typical 50-gallon (189-liter) water heater.

With funding from a grant from the California Energy Commission, Slater teamed up with a research team from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), led by Dr. Jan Kleissl of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, to test the system. To test real-world performance and determine the effects of different incoming cold water temperatures, they installed three prototype systems in homes in coastal, mountain and desert climates. They also monitored each system for a year to compare performance over different seasons.


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