ACI was an interesting conference with a lot of great vendors exhibiting, but one had me stumped. The company was called ShowerStart & they have a product where you turn on the water & as soon as it hits 95 its slows the flow to a trickle. Once you hop in, you pull the lanyard & essentially you have hot water & saved a bunch that would have gone down the drain.

Personally I like recirculating systems & consider water the next big thing to watch (which for some parts of the country it already is) but would love to hear your thoughts - is it something you would recommend / even use yourself or just a gimmick?

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Sounds like an attempt to compete with a Chili Pepper.  I've recommended these several times on Audits.  Usually when there is a long run that becomes a real complaint from the home owner.  I've had one installed.  The home owner reports that it works very well.

The Chili Pepper does a bypass with some plumbing and returns the water to the cold side until a temperature is reached. 

I did a audit yesterday, HO complained about the length of time and water waste for the shower on the 2 levels up. I will recommend one there.

I think a lanyard in the shower is a negative.

The story I got was that it's for those folks who turn the shower on, then shave, brush teeth (or do other things) while waiting for the water to get hot.  I guess some homes have a really long wait time(!)  I was taught early on to not waste things, including water, so when the water is ready, in about 10 seconds, I'm using it.  So, for me it would be a waste of money.  For the "long waiters" it may have value, but the chili pepper sounds like a better idea to me.

Hi Sean,

Sounds like an end of run approach that seems to eliminate any additional piping.  In many homes getting the pipes in place for a recirculate capability would be very expensive.  When my MIL lived with us the health care lady that stayed with her during the day reported that she would turn the sink on full hot as she headed for the oval seat.  By the time the worker went looking for her the entire bathroom would be dripping wet and the MIL would still be on the throne.

The MIL is gone and we are redoing that bathroom and part of the upgrade will be relocating the electric heater in the basement for a better compromise between the kitchen and the two bathrooms.  Recirculate may also be considered.

More updates on ACI would be interesting.


Bud - Chillipepper uses the cold water line to send the water pumped from the hot water line back to the water heater until hot water gets to the pump - no piping needed, it just goes between the shutoffs. Good stuff

Many thanks guys:

John - thanks for the recommendation on another pump & agree on the lanyard

Stan - the big issue for many homes & wait times is that they will replace the faucet or aerator & all of a sudden what used to take 20 to 30 seconds is now taking over a minute or two as the GPM was reduced. Personally for them relocating the WH is best followed up by an on-demand recirculating pump though depending on their plumbing layout that can get expensive.

Bud - Oh my, that sounds like a mess. As for additional plumbing being needed, not really as most retrofit systems just use two hoses like the one John mentioned (

As for ACI updates - I have at least two articles planned but in the meantime you might want to check out Mike Rogers piece or Allison Bailes piece (though I got to say his makes the 62.2 guys look better than they actually performed as Mike points out in his)

We've used the shower start type devices for about 6 years and found they work great!  Especially if HO has kids that might not be as mindful to monitor the shower temp closely while waiting.  Other big plus is that when connected in series with an ultra low flow shower head (1.5 or 1.6 gpm) they make the additional potential lag time more "useful" as you need not hang out or "worry" about venting hot water needlessly down the drain.

Looks to me like the Ladybug/Monarch/Roadrunner devices which can be found in the $30 range on ebay or amazon. For me, with regard to what I'd use in my home, it's a gimmick--the water heater is on the other side of the shower wall. We use a brand name, handheld 1.8 gpm low-flow showerhead that I picked up on clearnace for $10, tops, and have hot water almost as quickly as if we had an on-demand system.

For the people I serve (low to moderate income households who participate in publicly funded & utility funded weatherization programs), it'd depend wholly upon the installation. Water conservation *is* energy conservation, yet conservation cannot come at the expense of a household's plumbing system or septic drainfield...both of which have been engineered to function with a specified minimum amount of water flow.I don't know that structure's plumbing and septic systems, and I don't want to give the people who live there advice which I know or strongly suspect will eventually cause problems with that plumbing or septic system, if not both. The resultant repair bills will far exceed several years' worth of any energy savings attributable to reduced household demand for hot water.

Municipalities which have sponsored toilet replacement programs to retrofit older homes with low-flow toilets have seen problems resulting from reduced water flow through household plumbing and public sewer systems. They experienced this result whether the targeted housing stock consisted of run down rentals or middle income owner occupied ranchers, split levels and McMansions.

My friends who are plumbers and appliance repair techs have paid for their boats & vacation homes working on homes after DIYers and professionals put in appliance upgrades such as HE washing machines and water saver dishwashers without taking the house's plumbing system into consideration.

A local monastery did a green addition and retrofit to convert an unused structure on their the property into a bed & breakfast and small convention center. They brought everything online at once, and encountered about 18 months of significant issues with all the new low flow toilets, faucets and shower heads they'd put on the old section of the plumbing & septic system.

Unless it's your home, or you are also in a position to upgrade plumbing and septic systems for those whom you serve, it may be better to promote deeper savings through 6' in/6' out pipe wrap, a 120ºF temperature setting, routine water heater tank maintenance and/or an energy-efficient water heating system replacement over low-hanging fruit like faucet aerators/flow restrictors and low flow showerheads.

Maria, each house is different. Most people do not have a DHW 6 inches from the shower. Low flow shower heads are also a great thing this thread has not touched on. I'm glad that you work with homeowners that have similar type home layouts, challenges and solutions.

For the various homes that have some distance from the DHW to a major point of use, regardless of DHW type, the wait times are an issue.  Solutions are available, and feedback from fellow professionals regarding their experience is worthwhile.

I agree that municipal sewer systems can have many problems with lower flows, especially if they were built with less than optimal slopes etc.  The easy answer to that rests with the municipal system itself.  A tank truck with processed water from sewage can target problem sewer lines and the extra flow will move the solid buildups left from low flow. In 1 prior life, I was certified as a Waste Water Treatment Operator.

Plumbing and waste line problems within individual units are somewhat different. The waste line problems can easily be addressed, as the municipal systems have been. Supply plumbing issues must be addressed on a unit by unit basis with consideration for the types of materials, their age, condition and locations.  Plumbing in a slab is a very different situation then in a crawl space. Galvanized is different from black and from some of the early model plastic lines installed in the 1980's.  Many areas do not have plumbing codes at this time. And in most locations a homeowner implemented fix is not even checked, code or no code.

Maria - I understand that low flow toilets may cause issues due to the volume needed to push the solids, but this is a completely different issue. There is just no way going from a 2.5 shower to a 1.5 shower is going to cause a plumbing problem. People use showerheads, baths and sinks at lower than full flow all the time. This unit solves a specific problem and works for that use. It does not try solve a problem that doesnt exist such as the scenario at your home.

Gentlemen (John and Craig), flow restrictor devices--whether they're in the form of a showerhead or an aerator--aren't a "one size fits all" solution. They're components within a system. I find it wise, before changing the component, to understand the system.

As mentioned, at my house, a Ladybug-type device amounts to a gimmick. Why would I swap out a name brand, handheld 1.8 gpm shower massager that cost me $10 on clearance for a $30, 1.5 gpm water saving device that I don't need because my water heater tank is on the other side of the shower wall and I get hot water almost as fast as folks who have an on-demand system?

In some of the homes I serve, I believe flow restrictor devices are not the best route to take.

In others, they're most definitely the way to go.

To reiterate: it depends wholly upon the specifics of that installation.

With regard to the device pictured, I agree with whomever posted that he didn't care for the idea of a lanyard or pull chain in a shower. I see it as a likely point of device failure, or an entanglement hazard.

The flip side of that is: I serve many seniors and people who have disabilities, and I'm not satisfied the models which don't feature lanyards/pull chains would be easy to use for people who have limited manual dexterity.

For what it's worth, a good many folks handle this problem by use of a bucket, in which they catch the cold/tepid water that comes out the hot water tap while they wait for the hot water to get there. The captured water is then used elsewhere, for purposes such as watering plants, filling top loading washing machines, handwashing, flushing toilets, etc.

Low tech, but it works.

Maria - I don't think anyone is saying this device fits for all situations, of course you are not going to install it if your water heater is behind your shower - there is no problem to fix. That said, it is not going to cause downstream plumbing issues like a low flow toilet can. Very few people except the most environmentally conscious will capture water with buckets. This device is useful and effective for the majority who do not capture there water with buckets, have a long run to there water heater and don't want to have the high expense of water re-circulation. PS- there is not risk of entanglement - too short and never seen one fail with probably over 200 installed.

I can tell you from personal experience every morning  for the last 4 years, the Metlund d’mand pump made by Taco or the Taco d’mand pump is FANTASTIC!  BEST thing we ever installed in the second floor bathroom, located 35 feet from the water heater in the basement.  We don’t waste one drop of hot water.  We hardly hear it run more than a dull hum.  The chili pepper is noisy and more complicated to install and operate. From what I read in reviews it has a very short life before it dies. 

We mounted the d’mand pump under the Jacuzzi tub in the same outlet for the pump which is controlled by a 110 emergency wall switch.  The first person who walks into the bathroom in the morning flips on the light switch and the switch for the d’mand pump.  The pump runs for about a minute,  brings hot water within 5 feet of the shower head while I am brushing my teeth, then shuts itself off when hot water gets to the thermal activated switch.  I have hot water coming out of the showerhead within 20 seconds. 

I have no patience to wait for hot water so, I would either fog the bathroom and waste a lot of hot water I paid for, down the drain or be too early anxiously holding my hand under a cold showerhead.  Neither seems like something I want to do again. 

If your bathroom is set up different than mine you can mount it under a sink or vanity.  The d’mand has 2 other options a remote control door bell button you can put any place in the bathroom (which I highly recommend) or a motion sensor (which I disconnected and do not recommend).  The motion sensor turns on the system every time you enter the bathroom and wastes hot water you have no intention of using.  For us to install a system in a customer’s home we have to charge close to $1,000 because the d’mand system uses an expensive brass lead free pump.  I can see this new lady bug option for $30 dollars over coming the customer first cost objection.  It is only a good item if they buy it and it gets installed.  A lot of great products cost more than they save but, there is the value of convenience and lifestyle.  I am all for anything that works and can prevent hot water you paid to heat running down the drain, fogging up the room, while you are still brushing your teeth.

I would never recommend a circulator pump on a timer.  No one’s schedule will ever match the hot water schedule with their life style.  I feel hot water on demand gives the customer complete control and doesn’t run when you don’t use it.


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