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Our water heater (gas) is located in the garage. It is 25 to 30 feet away from the closest faucet, which I'm guessing is the main reason it takes so long -- a minute or longer -- to get hot water flowing into my house.

What can I do to reduce the time it takes to get hot water flowing?

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7 Answers 7

The best way to speed up hot water to the tap is through the use of a booster heater, also known as a "point of use" hot water heater. This is a small (~4 gallon) hot water heater installed very near the sink. If you need a lot of hot water and you want it to start fast you can install the hot water line as the supply for the point of use heater. That way you will have 4 gallons for immediate use and if you use that up you will be drawing hot water from your main hot water heater. If you don't need more than 4 gallons of hot water at the sink you can just use cold water as the supply. Here's an example of a point of use water heater for sale at Amazon.com.

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Amazon.com!?!? (checks link) Is there anything they don't sell? –  MGOwen Jul 29 '10 at 3:54
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Pretty amazing, huh? My wife and I sprung for an Amazon Prime account (free 2 day shipping) and now we even get dry goods like cereal from Amazon. –  JD Long Jul 29 '10 at 14:32
    
These heaters can put out really hot water immediately. Pretty convenient I think. –  M. Dudley May 26 '11 at 5:17
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Install a hot water recirculating pump. Older pumps required that the house be plumbed with a return loop to support circulation, but newer designs can be retrofitted if a house wasn't plumbed that way.

More info: http://www.askthebuilder.com/413_Hot_Water_Recirculating_Pumps.shtml

$ saving tip: put the pump on a timer and have it come on only when you typically use hot water at that location. Or use an X-10 switched outlet (or something similar) to allow remote manual switching combined with timed events.

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interesting that you can do it on existing non-return systems. –  mohlsen Jul 29 '10 at 17:59
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I did this on my old house and it works great. I only have the pump run when the lights are on in the kitchen or bathroom. When I'm out of the house the pump does not run at all. –  Scott Bruns Oct 3 '11 at 19:49
    
If the return loop is plumbed properly, it will passively circulate. Insulate the hot leg and don't insulate the cold leg –  HerrBag Mar 7 '13 at 20:53
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Insulate the hot water pipes from the hot water heater to the faucet. Hopefully you have access to them in your crawl space.

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Im going to try this with my cold water pipes, as they run through the furnace room (unfinished) and actually warms the cold water to room temp. Maybe it will make a difference :D –  Styler Dec 28 '11 at 16:28
    
Yup, it will help you in this case too. –  Jeff Widmer Dec 29 '11 at 14:28
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There really isn't a perfect solution to slow-flowing water, other than carefully planning your home so that the water heater is as close to the faucets as possible.

As stated by Josh, one solution is water recirculation. But depending on usage scenarios, water recirculation can waste a lot of energy. "Sense" technology that enables recirculation when needed can improve efficiency. And installing a system that uses the "cold" water circuit as a return line can make installation relatively easy.

If all else has failed, you can try quickly opening and closing the hot water - forcing the system to kick in. Wait a minute or so, and when you open again, you'll have hot water (and you will have saved a minute of running water).

Another solution is the instant water heater, like this one produced by Clage. It works by heating right next to the faucets. On-demand water heaters are quite efficient for usual "short burst" operation.

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You can go for a small water heater right near the faucet. I have done this with small 8 litre water heaters in the kitchen and guest toilets rather than linking them to the main water heater.

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One option is a recirculating water pump, which can pump hot water into the pipes based on various triggers (on demand, based on a timer, based on water temp, etc depending on model). I used one at my previous house, and it worked pretty well. There's more info here:

http://www.askthebuilder.com/413_Hot_Water_Recirculating_Pumps.shtml

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It is not particularly water conscious, but you could open up another hot water tap or two to move the cold water out of the pipes more quickly.

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