Daniel Flahiff

The EcoDrain Cuts Water Heater Use by 40%

by , 03/23/09

ecodrain, sustainable design, green design, green hot water heater, energy reduction, water heat exchanger, interior, product, energy efficient, green building, water fixture

A hot shower is relaxing, but is also a huge waste of energy: we heat our water with massive amounts of natural gas, oil or electricity, then transport the heated water to our tubs for a few seconds of sudsing, before washing it down the drain full of raw, wasted heat and energy! What if we could recapture this untapped source of wasted energy by transferring the heat from that shower waste-water to cold incoming water? The EcoDrain, a simple heat exchange unit, does just that, saving water heater use by up to 40%.

ecodrain, sustainable design, green design, green hot water heater, energy reduction, water heat exchanger, interior, product, energy efficient, green building, water fixture

Showering is “likely your most energy-intensive daily household activity. Although hidden on your energy bill, heating water for showers represents a significant portion of the total.” The EcoDrain is a simple heat exchange unit with no moving parts that is “easy to install” and needs no maintenance.

We were lucky enough to see a preview of this new technology at last year’s West Coast Green where Marc Hoffman, EcoDrain chief product designer, presented the concept to a panel of VCs and Green Industry experts. The devices simple, stainless steel profile belies it’s considerable innovation. The heat exchange unit features a “double wall of separation between fresh and waste water…plus an interior non-stick coating to prevent soap, hair or debris collecting inside.”

“Hot waste fluids represent a massive and often untapped source of clean energy,” say the EcoDrain folks, and we couldn’t agree more. But building code hurdles seem to be slowing the pace of getting the EcoDrain out to the public. As of this writing, EcoDrain says, “We are committed to getting the EcoDrain approved in your area. Please contact us if you require code approval in your area.” They go on to say that “The EcoDrain is a new product. It saves energy in homes and so is very relevant for the LEED for homes program. We are working to see how the EcoDrain will fit into this program. Please contact us for more information.” As for us, we wish them the best of luck and hope to see these installed everywhere in the near future.

+ EcoDrain

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11 Comments

  1. Takagi April 7, 2011 at 4:20 am

    OMG that is extraordinary! I love your work! Guess I am not as up-to-date as your regular readers! I swear I have fallen in love with your blog… Breathtaking writing! You’re an amazingly talented person, keep up the individuality :)

  2. Lea Bogdan June 29, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    I listened to a presentation last week about this topic from a researcher studying wasted water in the bath. He said that a geothermal heat exchange like this would work best on a vertical run, not horizontally as shown above. If the water runs horizontally, it might be only filling half of the pipe due to gravity, and therefore less energy would be transferred than if the entire surface of the pipe was heated with water flow.

    He gave an example of and exchange system where a pipe that runs to your water heater coils around the waste water pipe, so that the heat from the waste is actually used to pre-heat water. This allows the water heat to do less work to bring the water to temperature and saves energy.See a drawing of that here http://www.energysavers.gov/images/drainwater_heat_recover.gif

  3. peter john April 1, 2010 at 11:33 am

    I like the concept of recovering the waste heat to heat the fresh water. Taking the concept a bit further I would have a system of heat pipes that would be used to recover waste heat from the major heat source in an home like the oven, fridge, furnace, hot water heater. Maybe connected to a gas powered heat pump that generates excess electricy when burning gas. Also feed by a solar water heater on the roof. Waste nothing.

  4. Renewables At Home May 31, 2009 at 8:29 am

    Another great way to cut your water heating bill is by insulating your hot water heater. It’s cheap, you can do it yourself and it should cut costs by about 10 to 15 percent. I recently wrote a blog post on two ways to do this: http://www.renewablesathome.com/energy-conservation/save-energy-free-insulate-hot-water-heater

  5. bareotter April 6, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    I just stop up the drain and let the water cool warming the house in the winter before it goes down the drain. Summer that\’s another story.

  6. Oleks April 5, 2009 at 2:15 am

    Connecting EcoDrain’s outlet to heater inlet resolves dgle88′s and other problems.

  7. Oleks April 5, 2009 at 1:46 am

    Why on the scheme given below they did not connect water from EcoDrain to heater intake?!!

  8. BUSYGREENBEE March 30, 2009 at 5:16 pm
  9. dgle88 March 26, 2009 at 11:46 am

    I like the idea, but how exactly are you supposed to control it?

    It doesn’t directly decrease the water heater usage, it just heats cold water. Personally, I always turn the hot water all the way on and leave the cold water off (my water heater sucks). Wouldn’t that eliminate the usage of this thing?

    Also, won’t a lot of people just turn UP the cold water to cool it down rather than turn DOWN the hot? Which would also defeat the purpose, correct?

  10. shawnyar217 March 25, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    About Draino, this is from the FAQ on the EcoDrain website:

    When my drain clogs, I use chemical and/or bacterial
    cleaners to unclog it. Is it safe to use these with the
    EcoDrain?

    The EcoDrain is corrosion resistant and it is as safe to
    use chemical and bacterial cleaners with the EcoDrain
    as it is for the rest of the piping.

  11. crackgerbal March 24, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    I saw this on another blog about six months ago and really liked the idea of using the waste heat from showers. Im glad they coated the inside of the device though otherwise too much hair would build up. The only other concern i have is this: what if your drain clogs and you need to pour some draino down it? Wouldn’t that corrode the coating making it useless?

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