Water heaters and boilers are often a home’s biggest energy hogs. Traditional water heating systems operate by keeping tens of gallons of water hot at all times, depending on a property’s occupancy.

When this reserve is depleted, it can take several minutes for hot water stores to be replenished. Making matters worse, the water in these systems loses heat at nearly every point on its journey to your faucets.

Homeowners with inefficient water heating systems are pouring money down the drain from excessive water reheating. This isn’t an insignificant cost. Water heating is the second largest expense in single-family residences (SFR), according to the U.S. Department of Energy. This accounts for 14% to 18% of a home’s total utility bill.

For multifamily residence (MFR) buildings with even greater hot water demand, these costs can quickly grow out of control. Properties with a central domestic water heating (CDWH) system that serves multiple units are at greater risk for heat and energy waste.

On-Demand Efficiency

So what’s an owner or manager of a MFR with a CDWH system to do? The Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) wants to help rein in the water heating costs of qualifying customers who enroll in their On-Demand Efficiency (ODE) program.

The ODE program provides qualifying MFRs with an on-demand pump control and a sensor to save gas and electricity. SoCalGas will install this system on a wall near the property’s existing hot water recirculation system. Since no pipe alterations are required, applicants can have their ODE system installed without any interruptions in service. See the diagram below.

The control and sensor work by turning a typical CDWH system, which runs 24/7, into an on-demand system, which powers the recirculation pump only when there is tenant demand for hot water.

With the new control and sensor installed, the pump runtime is cut to an average of an hour a day. That blows traditional pump performance out of the water any day.

To participate in the program, applicants will need:

  • an active SoCalGas account;
  • a MFR building with at least six units (including condos and senior living facilities);
  • a central domestic water heating system with a recirculation loop and operational pump on the property; and
  • to agree to an inspection.

What’s in it for me?

Expect some serious savings on your energy bill. This means a 10% to 30% drop in your natural gas water heating costs, according to a Gas Technology Institute Emerging Technology Program study. The ODE system also reduces average electricity use from recirculation up to 90%.

An ODE system also extends the life of your water heating equipment as it reduces regular wear and tear. The average water heater warranty (and perhaps uncoincidentally, the water heater itself) lasts six to 12 years. Extending the life of your heating appliances nets hefty savings alone.

Most importantly to cost-conscious property owners and managers, the program is free. This includes parts, labor and warranty services. There is no monthly fee or other recurring cost.

Not an owner or manager of a qualifying MFR building? Agents can refer clients to money-saving programs and upgrades like this one to break in to the MFR market or just maintain positive contact with clients.

Ready to dip your toe in the water? The deadline to apply for the ODE program is November 30, 2019. To enroll, visit www.odeprogram.com and complete and application.