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Toronto Passive: Some Thoughts on Drainwater Heat Recovery

These heat exchangers capture energy from drain water and can speed up hot-water recovery times dramatically

Posted on Apr 10 2017 by Lyndon Than

Editor's Note: Lyndon Than is a professional engineer and Certified Passive HouseA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. Consultant who took a year off from work to design and build a home with his wife Phi in North York, a district of Toronto, Ontario. A list of Lyndon's previous blogs at appears in the sidebar below. For more, you can follow his blog, Passive House Toronto.

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  1. Lyndon Than

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Sensible Plumbing

Careful planning and commonsense rough-in make a well-performing, safe, and easily maintained system — guaranteed

Posted on Oct 6 2015 by Dave Yates

“We have very low pressure at the master-bathroom shower, and if any other plumbing is used, we literally have no water coming out of the showerhead.” The frustration in my new customer’s voice was palpable, and during the drive to his country estate, thoughts about the root causes of his home’s water-pressure woes ran through my head. I pulled into the driveway of what had to be a multimillion-dollar home. How could a house that looked this great be suffering so much internally?

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  1. Photo: courtesy of Kohler

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Should I Insulate My Cold Water Pipes?

Pipe insulation reduces the chance of frozen pipes in cold climates and eliminates condensation in all climates

Posted on Mar 18 2014 by Erik North

Insulating the hot waters pipes in your house is something of a no-brainer. Why let the heat escape willy-nilly? Pipe insulation is inexpensive, and the project is one that any homeowner could finish on a Saturday afternoon.

Whether to insulate the cold water pipes is less clear-cut. The project is still pretty inexpensive and easy — but does it have a point? Insulation retains heat, and these are cold water pipes. So why do it?

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Settling In to My Renovated Cottage

Not quite done — but then again, are renovation projects ever really finished?

Posted on Mar 11 2014 by Carl Seville

I’ve been living in my renovated house for about two months now, and, with the exception of my hot water issue and ice on my windows, everything is working pretty well.

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  1. All photos: Carl Seville

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Been Having Those Hot Water Blues

Small house hot water distribution issues continue to plague me

Posted on Feb 4 2014 by Carl Seville

As part of my renovation project, I needed to move the water heater out of its location in a below-grade recess in my crawl space that I was filling in to eliminate the need for a sump pump to get rid of water that collected. When considering the best type of new water heater, I considered both heat-pump water heaters and tankless heaters.

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  1. Carl Seville

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Getting Into Hot Water — Part 3

Plan a home-run pipe layout with a central manifold, and keep your pipe runs as short as possible

Posted on Oct 1 2012 by Marc Rosenbaum

In a previous blog, I described our decision to get rid of our oil-fired boiler. When our oil boiler went away, the hot water tank did also, and this gave me an opportunity to relocate the new water heater directly below the two bathrooms. This reduces the wait time to get hot water to the tap substantially, and the tank is now only half the distance from the kitchen as well.

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  1. Marc Rosenbaum

Cheaper Hot Water

Posted on Dec 22 by Christina Glennon


Yes, you can put your hot-water system on an energy diet; master plumber and author Dave Yates will show you how.

Each of the six strategies that he shares in this article—ranging from insulating your water heater and pipes to adding a thermal-expansion tank—will reduce your energy bills and your carbon footprintAmount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that a person, community, industry, or other entity contributes to the atmosphere through energy use, transportation, and other means. .

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Solar Hot Water

Posted on Dec 22 by Christina Glennon


No matter where you live, a solar system can reduce energy costs and provide a reliable supply of domestic hot water

With rising energy prices, taking advantage of the sun's radiant energy to warm water for household use is an idea whose time has come—again.

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Why Add a Tank to a Tankless Water Heater?

Posted on Dec 22 by Christina Glennon


Instant water heaters save energy and offer endless hot water, but not without some problems. A small tank and a big pump can fix the flaws

Ever been hit by a sudden blast of cold water in the middle of your hot shower, or even just lost hot-water pressure altogether, because someone has decided to do the dishes at the same time you're cleaning up?

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Water Heaters: Tank or Tankless?

Posted on Dec 18 by Christina Glennon


Learn how tank and tankless water heaters work, how to choose and size one to suit your needs, and how to save money and energy in the process

If you've ever been in the shower and shrieked in dismay when your spouse started up the dishwasher, author Dave Yates has some vital information for you.

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