Sustainable construction is on the move! It seems almost every day a new and innovative product shows up on the market that is more efficient, more effective, greener and healthier. We regularly cruise the web looking for such gems and our latest find is a new system for greywater heat recovery that looks quite promising.
If you aren't familiar with the term, greywater heat recovery devices, as their name suggests, are used to recover heat from drain water before it is discharged from homes. In order to work they require water tanks to be filling while hot water is draining, so the functional use of these units is pretty well limited to the shower, with a bath your water tank is refilled long before you drain tub.
The price of such units can at first seem high, but they are very cost effective, with a heat recovery efficiency of up to 60%. Depending on the consumption patterns of users, they generally have a payback period of between 7-10 years, and in some cases a lot less. Utility rates in your region will also affect payback periods, you'll get your money out of it way faster in Ontario than Quebec for example, as the cost of electricity there is much higher.
Most systems are installed vertically, a drawback of that being that they require a height under the shower drain of at least 1.5 meters, which significantly limits the possibility of installation during renovations and sometimes even in new home construction.
Since the summer of 2014, the Canadian startup company EcoDrain has been distributing greywater heat recovery units with the rare feature of being able to move horizontally, with a minimum slope of 1°. Despite horizontal installation limiting the effectiveness of the system relative to vertical systems, their flagship product, the A1000, posted an efficiency of 33%. That's a lot more than the 0% you would previously have been able to get without sufficient space below your shower.
If you aren't sure you'll get your money out of this, there is an easy to use greywater calculator that can quickly tell you if your showering habits make you a canditate for saving some cash. And have a look at the company's promotional video if you want to see what exactly is going on inside that mysterious white tube...