Long, hot, showers are a luxury many people enjoy on a daily basis. However, showering is the most energy intensive activity that most people engage with during their day. Heating up water is the third largest energy cost in homes, after space heating and cooling. Few people stop to think about what happens to all of that wasted hot water that goes down the drain during these showers.
The question of what happens to this wasted water plagued one engineer, who set out to put all of that wasted hot water to use. This engineer eventually created the EcoDrain, a heat exchanger that captures energy from hot shower. Before the EcoDrain, heat exchangers existed but could only be installed on vertical sections of drain line, making it very difficult to add one into a plumbing system after it was already built. EcoDrain set out to change this by creating a product that can be installed in any position, making this energy-saving technology significantly more accessible.
The EcoDrain transfers the heat from hot water coming down the drain to the fresh water supply. It does so without using any electricity and without the used water ever coming into contact with the fresh water. Basically, the hot water heats up cold fresh water that can then be used in the home, saving the energy and money that typically goes into water heating. The EcoDrain does not lessen the amount of water used by a consumer, but at least puts to use the energy stored in the water.
The EcoDrain costs between $575 and $790 for initial purchase and installation in homes, and will ultimately save between $100 and $250 per year according to the company’s payback estimates. Their website also suggests that this model can be used in other applications outside of homes such as gyms, hotels, and college campuses.
While showers served as the original inspiration for the EcoDrain, evidence shows that it can also be beneficial for commercial use, such as in restaurant dishwashers. In fact, the Food Service Technology Center tested the EcoDrain A1000 for dish machine drain water use. The study determined that for certain types of dish machines, particularly high temperature sanitizing rack conveyor dishwashers, the EcoDrain A1000 offered significant energy and moderate cost savings. According to the study, restaurants could save between $418 and $722 per year when using the EcoDrain A1000. Adding an EcoDrain to a restaurant is a simple, money-saving step towards energy efficiency and a greener restaurant.
Installing an EcoDrain is just one change a homeowner, restaurant owner, or hotel owner could make to increase their daily sustainability efforts. Using heat exchangers in hotel showers and commercial kitchens is a progressive step towards becoming a sustainable business, saving money, and reaching an audience of people with sustainability in mind.