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Hot water pump comes with a steep price

On a recent trip to a friend’s house in the desert, I was amazed that when you turned on the hot water faucet, you got immediate hot water. Turns out that due to the importance placed on the precious water resources down there, they install a circulating hot water pump in many houses to minimize water waste instead of running gallons of water waiting for the water to get hot. Recognizing that a circulating pump attached to the water heater uses electrical power to perform its task, I was wondering if the energy use involved would offset any gains made by wasting less water up here in “Medburg?” Obviously lots of variables are involved, but give it a shot. Water is precious.

— Kevin K., Medford

Water is precious, Kevin, but in the Rogue Valley water is also relatively inexpensive compared to Southern California or the deserts of Arizona.

Those recirculating water pumps are sometimes available in newer houses, particularly two-story houses that have bathrooms on the second story and a long way from the water heater.

We checked in with Grover Electric and Plumbing Supply, and a representative told us they’ve only sold eight recirculating pumps in the past 12 months.

One of the reasons so few are being sold is the cost. At $300 each, you’d have to burn through a lot of water to recoup your investment. Also, if you’re not a handy guy, Kevin, you might have to hire a plumber to install the pump. Again, with relatively low water prices in the valley, you’d spend money flushing water down the sink. In Medford, the base charge for 5,000 gallons of water per month is $3.60. In summer, rates are higher if you use more than 5,000 gallons.

But, if you feel conservation is important, then the $300 initial cost might be worth it to you. Depending on how long you run the pump each day, you might spend another $30 or $40 a year for electricity.

All in all, it looks like the two best reasons to install the pump are conservation and instant hot water.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

On a recent trip to a friend’s house in the desert, I was amazed that when you turned on the hot water faucet, you got immediate hot water. Turns out that due to the importance placed on the precious water resources down there, they install a circulating hot water pump in many houses to minimize water waste instead of running gallons of water waiting for the water to get hot. Recognizing that a circulating pump attached to the water heater uses electrical power to perform its task, I was wondering if the energy use involved would offset any gains made by wasting less water up here in “Medburg?” Obviously lots of variables are involved, but give it a shot. Water is precious.