Plumbing Innovations Increase Energy Efficiency

Written by Joe Perritt
Updated September 29, 2015
PEX tubing
Durable and inexpensive, PEX tubing has revolutionized some elements of plumbing. (Photo courtesy of Hugh J. Lofting Construction Management Services)

These additions to the plumbing world offer new ways to save energy and money.

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Although modern indoor plumbing hasn't changed a ton in the past 50 years or so, a family of environmentally sound, affordable products are creating waves in the industry, and this flow of new plumbing innovations doesn't seem to be losing steam. Plumbing systems will be around for generations, and as with most industries, you can reasonably expect to see a plethora of exciting and sustainable products becoming more accessible on the market. These plumbing innovations increase energy efficiency in your home and can help you save energy and money. 

PEX pipe

PEX pipe is a cheaply made type of polyethylene plastic that features a cross-linked cellular structure, which provides amazing properties like dissolution resistance, high tensile strength, incredible flexibility and scratch/fracture resistance. It can also withstand extreme temperatures, which makes it suitable for various applications in almost any environment.

Although PEX piping is a relatively new technology, its beneficial properties have given it a great reputation for transporting drinking water, and the availability of special fittings allows it to be connected to copper, so it's an ideal plumbing pipe. Its flexibility can diminish the need for fittings, which can increase pressure and is also more affordable. In addition, PEX pipe won't corrode, and it has an exceptional lifespan of up to 50 years. PEX tubing is quickly becoming the go-to material for plumbers, which isn't surprising if you compare it to the copper, CPVC or galvanized steel pipe that was once widely used for plumbing.

Tankless water heater options

A tankless water heater is designed with energy efficiency in mind, and you can expect long-term energy savings if you have one installed in your home. Tankless water heaters are different from traditional water heaters in that the water is heated as it's used, which essentially provides unlimited hot water. Tankless water heaters run on gas or electrical energy, are very small and can be mounted on a wall or tucked away in a closet space, but they do carry an increased initial cost. A licensed plumber can help explain your tankless water heater options. 

Solar water heater prospects

Perfect for environmentally minded people, a solar water heater is a new technology that blends several renewable energy technologies to provide hot water at any time of the year. These systems typically consist of a hot water tank that is either mounted above or below the solar collectors depending on whether it is a pump-circulated unit or a thermosiphon-flow unit.

Although there are some DIY packages available, a proper solar water heating system will more than likely require a licensed plumber or contractor, as these types of systems can be complicated to install. Solar water heating can reduce your utility bills drastically, and the added benefit of being environmentally sound outweighs the somewhat expensive initial cost. If you are looking to get off the grid, here's a good way to start.

Much like the veins in a human body, plumbing systems and irrigation canals stretch throughout the skin of the Earth. It almost seems as if the natural order of life demands that liquids are efficiently transported through either manmade or naturally occurring canals, which makes indoor plumbing almost feel natural. These exciting, new innovations highlight society's need for energy efficiency and sustainability, and despite the somewhat slow evolution of plumbing, a brand-new industry is on the horizon.

Have you increased your energy efficiency by installing any of these recent plumbing innovations? Tell us about it in the comments below. 

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