Instant hot water on tap

IT was English-born Mike Hilton’s time working on a Western Australian wheat and sheep farm that made him realise how precious water is in this part of the world.

But in his view there is a big difference between simply recognising the importance of the resource and doing something about conserving it.

So with water savings in mind and a German manufacturer on board, Mr Hilton has produced a device that has the potential to not only save gigalitres of Australian water each year, but could also provide new home owners with instant hot water.

Mr Hilton is trying to persuade State governments around Australia, including the WA Government, to give the product their blessing. 

“I didn’t design it specifically from a financial savings point of view, but more from a water saving point of view,” Mr Hilton said.

The device is basically a small pump with a thermostat and a timer that, when fitted to domestic hot water systems, will recycle water that would normally go down the drain as a hot water system kicks in.

Recent tests haves found a family of four can save up to 22,000 litres of water a year.

Mr Hilton has set up Econo-Aqua to commercialise the product and has contracted German pump manufacturer, Grondfos, to make the water-saving devices.

Pricing is still being investigated because Econo-Aqua is banking on government support.

Econo-Aqua has already sold some of its devices and says it has interest from local middle to upper-tier new home builders.

However, Mr Hilton said the real upside lay with the WA Government’s tick of approval – it is hoped the devices will be made mandatory in new homes, or at least added to subsidy schemes such as WA’s Waterwise Rebates Scheme.

If governments do come on board Mr Hilton said a substantial number of pumps would be imported from Germany.

Currently between 10,000 to 15,000 building licences are issued each year and Mr Hilton estimated at least 25 to 35 per cent of that market could be snared.

The system can also be fitted to some existing hot water systems.

Mr Hilton said the problem was that water is underpriced in Australia.

“People just don’t realise how critical our water shortage is,” he said.

“The governments need to help people realise this.”

A spokesman from the WA Department of Premier and Cabinet confirmed discussions had been held with Econo-Aqua.

The spokesman said while talks were only in the preliminary stages, further talks would be held.

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