The 155-unit Woodberry Community Development in Snellville, Ga.
SNELLVILLE, Ga. - Comfort control in hot and humid Georgia can sometimes take inventive twists. In Snellville, the homeowners in a 155-unit development are being offered the option of using a system that provides hot water recirculation throughout the house, house wrap insulation, low-emissivity glass, and high-efficiency air conditioning.

The Comfort Series instant hot water system is from Grundfos Pumps of Olathe, Kan. Homes in the subdivision are between 2,000 and 4,200 square feet. Roy Wendt, of Wendt Builders, said an average pipe run from the water heater to the farthest fixture would be 100 feet. Without a recirculation pump it would take as long as two minutes for hot water to reach the furthest point. He said this delay means that 2.5 gallons of water are wasted per use for a total annual water loss of more than 9,100 gallons.

The hot water recirculation system, which uses a stainless steel circulator pump on the water heater and a bypass valve to connect the hot and cold water pipes on the farthest fixture, reduces the wait to 30 seconds, according to Grundfos.

The Grundfos Pumps hot water recirculation system.
"We can install one of these systems in about an hour, which is part of what makes it so cost-effective," said Tim Dalton, of Keever-Dalton-Johnson Inc. of Lilburn, Ga., the plumbing contractor. "These homes are built on slabs, so we don't need to insulate the pipes."

"Placement of the pump on the water heater in the mechanical room, where there is often wiring in place, removes the need for an electrician on the installation," said Clint Andrews of Grundfos. "It also means that no matter how many branches you have on your plumbing system, you only need one pump, although each branch needs its own valve."

He said conventional systems place the pumps on the fixtures, so multiple pumps must be wired under each sink in order to obtain the same savings, multiplying the cost of installing the system several times.

The technology was introduced in the Georgia complex as a factor in overall comfort control. Andrews said the concept is used in other parts of the country for water savings. He said areas of Nevada and California require recirculation, while areas of New Mexico, Colorado, and Oregon offer tax credits and other incentives to do so.

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Publication date: 07/19/2004