We drink a lot of coffee and other hot beverages. I thought of installing a hot water dispenser in the kitchen for convenience. Are these useful and will using one decrease or increase my utility bills?—Glen J.
Using hot water from the kitchen faucet wastes water and energy. Depending on how far your kitchen faucet is from the water heater, you may have to run more than a gallon of water until hot water reaches the faucet.
After you turn the hot water faucet off, the pipe is still full of hot water. During the winter, this slowly cools and helps heat your house to some extent so it is not a total loss. Keep in mind, however, an electric water heater is only about one-third as efficient as a heat pump. During the summer, the hot water in the pipe creates a double cost because it produces heat that your air conditioner must remove from your house.
A hot water dispenser is a tiny tank-type electric water heater located beneath your sink with a spout near the faucet. These dispensers typically have a heavily insulated one-half-gallon water tank located under the sink. Combining the hot water in the tank with the output of the heating element, it produces enough hot water for about 50 cups an hour.
Hot water dispensers are convenient to use and easy to install. They have adjustable temperature settings, often from 140 degrees for cleaning and warming, to 190 degrees for coffee or tea. There is generally a temperature adjustment knob on the tank unit under the sink. They operate on standard 120-volt house power, so they do not require special wiring.
Whether you will save electricity overall depends on your hot water habits. Most hot water dispensers have 700- to 800-watt heating elements. They also operate on a thermostat so the electric heating elements are on only when needed. As with any water heating device, set its temperature only as high as you need it. A lower setting requires less electricity to keep the tank warm.
If you do not mind waiting for a microwave oven to heat water for coffee or tea, and if you do not otherwise use much hot water, installing a hot water dispenser will likely increase your utility bills. For example, being a single man who does not drink coffee, I have not installed one in my home. On the other hand, if you use hot water often from the faucet and heat water on the stove, using a hot water dispenser can lower your utility bills.
Another time- and money-saving advantage of a hot water dispenser is for cooking. Most cooking experts do not recommend using hot water from the faucet for starting rice or other foods. The reason is that hot water standing and running through the pipes in a house is more likely to pick up chemicals or contaminants than is cold water. Also, the hot water from the faucet is probably only in the 120 degree range.
With the hot water dispenser tank located directly under the sink, picking up contaminants is not a problem as all the plumbing from the tank to the spout is included with the kit. When you plan to steam or boil foods, you can start with 190 degree hot water from the dispenser. This will reduce the stovetop cooking time of many foods and will save energy.
The following companies offer hot water dispensers: Anaheim Manufacturing, (800) 854-3229, www.anaheimmfg.com; Elkay, (603) 574-8484, www.elkay.com; Franke, (800) 626-5771, www.frankesd.com; In-Sink-Erator, (800) 558-5700, www.insinkerator.com; and Tri Palm International, (800) 646-2747, www.oasiswatercoolers.com.
Mail requests and questions to James Dulley, Kentucky Living, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244, or visit www.dulley.com