My water heater is located about 40' away from our master bath with a
3/4" main supply run. I also have a recirculating pump at the water
heater with a dedicated 1/2" return line from the master bath.
With the pump off, it takes well over a minute for hot water to reach the
shower head in the master bath (The bathtub warms up faster since it has
a higher flow).
With the pump on, it takes maybe 5 seconds for hot water to reach the
shower head (the short distance the 1/2" pipe makes from the
recirculating line in the floor to the shower head).
My recirculating pump is on a timer so it only runs a few hours in the
morning and a few hours in the evening, during the times we usually need
hot water. This minimizes heat loss and energy usage. We can still shower
mid-day if we wish, we just have to wait the full minute for the hot
water to reach the master bath.
The pump itself uses very little power, since it only runs a few hours
each day. There is some heat loss from the piping beneath the floor, but
it radiates into the house supplementing our heating system. It actually
warms the tile floors a little, without having to pay extra for those
fancy floor warming systems. :)
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