Copper Heat Recovery Device Could Cut Water Heating Bills in Half

March 3, 1997


SALISBURY, MASS. - Homes with a new $180 waste heat recovery system could run three hot showers at the same time (or one right after the other) and still cut 30-50 percent off their total water heating bill.

Thirty-eight percent of American homeowners spend about $22 billion a year to electrically heat their water-let alone what the other 62 percent spend on gas or oil. Add to that the expenditures related to multifamily dwellings and commercial and industrial applications, and the annual energy cost for heating water in this country becomes gargantuan. A Canadian estimate for North America put the tab at $40 billion. Hence, the dramatic impact on energy savings enabled by this new, copper tube device.

Inventor Dr. Carmine Vasile, of Oakdale, New York, has developed the GFX waste heat recovery system, over the past ten years. It is made by the Vaughn Manufacturing Corp. of Salisbury, Mass. Dr. Vasile, who runs WaterFilm Energy, Inc., holds more than 30 patents, including number 4,619,311 which covers this technology.

"The key idea,"" said Dr. Vasile, "is that we use the heat from a home's hot drain water to pre-heat water coming into the house before it flows to the water heater and on to sinks or showers."

The GFX has no moving parts, just a tight coil of 1/2-inch diameter copper tubing around a 3-inch copper pipe. A 3/4-inch coil and 4-inch pipe are also available. In any combination, the unit is two to five feet tall, and it must be installed vertically for effective heat transfer. There is no pump or storage tank. The device uses no electricity, so there is no operating cost. It works only when the drain and supply lines are in use at the same time - as when someone is taking a shower or washing dishes.

"The hot drain water flows close to the coil," Vasile explained, "giving up more than half of its heat to the incoming water, warming it up before it enters the water heater, shower and sinks. This preheating unit significantly reduces the power required to bring the water to 'hot water' temperatures. We have UL approval, and code approvals in various states are being completed."

Several power companies and water utilities have already tested the system. One evaluation concluded the unit would save more than the equivalent of 7 billion gallons of oil per year if it were used for all residential and nonresidential water supplies.

In those parts of the U.S. where electricity costs 8.5 to 17 cents per kilowatt hour, GFX could save 20 to 40 cents per shower, which for a family of four amounts to an annual saving of about $250 to $500. Plus-as anyone with young teenagers knows-it could eliminate the need for a new, larger water heater or the need to wait between showers for the water to be heated.

"Copper is used in the unit because it provides the most efficient heat transfer, no maintenance worries and the longest possible service life," Dr. Vasile said.

For further information, contact Vaughn Manufacturing Corp., 26 Old Elm Street, Salisbury, MA 01952 at 800-282-8446.