January 8, 2009

Autocirc pump to save water, money and get hot water faster

The other day my wife saw something in the local paper about an Autocirc pump. The pump was mentioned as a device to save water and get hot water to your faucets faster. I hadn't heard of it before so I did a Google search.

The Autocirc1 is made by Laing. The Autocirc1 pump is designed to keep hot water in your pipes at all time. The pump has a thermostat and will kick on when the water goes below 85 C and then kick off when water hits 95 C. It is designed to install under your sink in the sink furthest from your hot water heater so that it will keep hot water in the pipes for all the sinks and showers in between.

The benefits are 3 fold: The pump will save you money on your water bill. It will save water. Plus it will get you hot water faster and you won't have to run the tap waiting for hot water.

Laing claims the savings are in the $100-300 range for a typical family of 4. I found one reference to an individual who said they were saving $100 a year on their water bill. You can buy the pump for around $250-300 at retailers like Home Depot or Amazon. Amazon has the ACT-303-BTW autocirc1 model of $259. Home Depot has an Autocirc1 for $239. So the payback period should be in the range of 1-3 years.

The pump looks fairly easy to install and should be a do it yourself project for someone somewhat competent at DYI. The Autocirc1 model pump does require an AC outlet to power itself though, so if you don't have a power outlet under your sink then this might increase installation difficulty.

Laing also made an Autocirc2 which doesn't need AC outlet at the faucet but I can not find that version for sale anywhere. I found a reference to another company named Grundfos winning a lawsuit over patent infringement on the Autocirc2 so Laing may have pulled the model due to that. That lead me to look for similar pump by Grundfos. I found the Grundfos recirculator pump for sale at $225.


Given the energy savings, water savings and extra convenience one of these devices looks like a good purchase.

5 comments:

  1. Hi Jim,

    I am not convinced that this device will really save money for many people. By keeping hot water in the pipes, constantly drawing it from the tank when the pipes get cool, you're forcing the heater to heat more water than it would otherwise do. That will reduce or even outweigh the savings from the water consumption.

    Also, the savings will depend greatly on the pattern of water use. I use hot water only at a few points of the day, not frequently, so having it in the pipes all the time would not be a good idea, it would definitely be wasteful in my case. If I used hot water continuously through the day then yes, it might be a real boon.

    It's a nice idea though, and thanks for sharing it.

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  2. Tony,

    Yes I agree that it won't necessarily save money for everyone. I should have said something about that specifically in the article. This is definitely a YMMV situation. I think its usually the case for energy saving devices that they can save money for many people but not everyone and the exact savings will vary a lot. This type of device is a bit more unique. How much energy you will save or even if you save energy at all will depend a lot on how your homes plumbing is setup.

    How exactly this kind of device will save energy is not that straight forward either. I wish the manufacturer went into more detail there. I might write a follow up article to examine how it may or may not save people energy in more detail.

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  3. yes, I checked the manufacturer's site myself, and noticed they don't talk about the energy for (re-)heating the water! I look forward to reading whatever you manage to find out about it.

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  4. I got a copy of the study that Laing did to calculate the energy savings. If you want to see if for yourself you can email them and ask for it. I emailed them at Technical.Support@lainginc.com

    They do cover the cost of heating the water in the pipes. I'm going to write a follow up article examining the potential cost savings from the Autocirc1 within a few days as well.

    Jim

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  5. I ordered one of these (Autocirc) from Home Depot (they only sell them online, not in stores) so I am planning to find out how worthwhile the deivce is. Has anyone else actually installed and used one for a while?

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