Water Without Waste
Faster Hot Water Offers Affordable Efficiency
Sometimes, success comes from inspiration. Other times, it evolves from what you’re already doing. For Mark Franklin, President of Faster Hot Water, both of those are true.
Drawing inspiration from the work he did over the course of his civil engineering career, Mark launched San Diego-based Faster Hot Water in 2011, manufacturing a line of water pump products delivering hot water faster for use in single-family homes.
Mark, who calls himself a “recovering civil engineer,” used to specialize in the complicated plumbing systems of buildings like high-rise hotels and apartment buildings. One recurrent problem he faced was the difficulty of getting hot water to the upper floors of most buildings. This was a particular problem in hotels, with their most expensive rooms—the penthouses and luxury suites—occupying the upper floors. Mark specialized in solving that problem, making sure any place in the building could get hot water in a matter of moments.
It was his work in hotels that inspired him to create his first products for Faster Hot Water. Each of Mark’s products can be quickly and easily installed on a home’s existing water heater—there are different versions for regular or tankless water heaters—to eliminate the need to run a faucet for the time it takes the water to become hot. Turning on the hot water for one second, then turning it off again, activates the system’s pump, which circulates the cold water back through the system instead of wasting it by pouring it down the drain. When the faucet is turned on again a few moments later, the water is hot.
“What we do now really began 20 years ago, when I was focusing on hotels and high-rise buildings,” Mark says. “The hotel work was good, but it was too much engineering work. I wanted to get into creating products, and I saw a great future in supplying these to single-family homes.
“These products are the evolution of other products I’ve invented,” he says. “In 1995, I got my first patent on a water submetering system for apartments. I then invented a small water meter, which eventually led to this product. To activate hot water in a home, you need a recirculating pump, which needs a flow switch, which came from that original metering device.”
A Matter of Convenience
There are several advantages to installing a Faster Hot Water product on a home’s existing water heater, but the one Mark stresses the most is convenience.
“The bottom line is convenience for the homeowner,” Mark says. “A mom who has two kids is multitasking in the morning, and she doesn’t want to sit there and wait for hot water. The system we offer can be built right into your existing plumbing. It’s an extra $300 to $400—not that expensive for the convenience or efficiency.”
Each of the products Faster Hot Water offers can be installed quickly by a plumber or even as a do-it-yourself project. Mark says it offers a better alternative than watching gallons of cold water disappear down a drain while waiting for the hot water to arrive, as well as being more efficient than the “always-on” hot water systems installed in some homes.
“An always-on system has to keep water heated all the time,” Mark says. “That means more energy is being used to heat the water, as well as pipes that are always kept hot. That puts a lot of stress on them, making it more likely for them to develop leaks. And that’s all for the handful of times every day you actually need hot water.” The average family of four can save as much as 12,000 to 15,000 gallons of water every year using a Faster Hot Water product, Mark says.
“It’s a lot less expensive to use our products than anything else out there,” he adds.
“Bigger homes have expensive hot water circulation systems built in. Our product is easy to retrofit into any existing home. For new construction, we save on installation cost and installation labor. It’s a very green product that doesn’t waste energy or water.”
Designing the Right Solution
While most of Faster Hot Water’s business involves single-family homes, Mark hasn’t forgotten his civil engineer roots, and he does a great deal of custom design work for commercial and government buildings.
“We can customize our products for anybody,” Mark says. “We’ve seen and solved so many unique situations, it’s just a matter of selecting the right products and making them work for the customer.”
In his home state of California, the restaurant health code demands that hot water be available from the tap in an employee restroom within seven seconds, a requirement that forces many restaurants to install a dedicated water heater and separate plumbing to satisfy. Mark created a motion-activated system for his pump; the moment someone walks into the bathroom, the pump turns on, so the hot water is ready and waiting when the employee needs it. At a gymnasium in Ohio, he created a similar system to get hot water to the football team’s showers within 40 seconds. In a New Jersey hotel, the ground-floor restrooms attached to the restaurant and it took far too long to get hot water, to the point the hotel owners were contemplating spending $150,000 to replumb the system. Mark created a solution that solved their problem for $2,000.
“One of the first hotels I worked on was in Santa Clara,” Mark says. “They had a boiler on the roof and risers that ran down to each floor. One side of the hotel took as long as 45 minutes to get hot water to some of the rooms—the employees actually had to go to empty rooms on that side of the hotel every morning and run the hot water in the bathtubs just to get hot water flowing through those pipes for their guests. I was able to come in and fix their problem for about $2,000. I got a standing ovation in the lobby when I was finished.”
Hot Water with a Word
Faster Hot Water products are moving into the field of home automation, Mark says. His new products are compatible with devices like Amazon Alexa or Google Home and can be activated by voice command.
“You can wake up in the morning, and before you even get out of bed just say ‘Alexa, turn on the hot water,’ ” Mark says. “By the time you get to the bathroom and turn on the shower, the water’s already hot and waiting for you. I think home automation is just going to explode our business. It’s just what’s happening. We have the first system out there that’s tied into an automation system.”
Faster Hot Water is working with about 400 plumbers across the country to sell its products, Mark says. He’s also working with new homebuilders to put his system into new construction—every home Lennar builds in the Los Angeles area now comes equipped with a Faster Hot Water system.
“There are only three of us actually working in the business,” Mark says. “We consider plumbers our sales force. They’re in people’s homes. We want them to know we have the best product. And if they do, they’ll sell it for us.”
Faster Hot Water’s business has been quickly increasing over the last year and a half, and the company now ships about 500 single-family home systems per month. All the manufacturing of parts is outsourced to other vendors, Mark says, such as the Danish company Grundfos, which builds all the pumps.
“We get hit with large orders a lot,” Mark says. “We have the ability to get pumps in two days, and other supplies in one day. We can produce as many as 5,000 pumps in a month, if needed. The only thing limiting our capacity to grow is our capacity to handle orders.
“A woman in Los Angeles called us not long ago and said she’d bought one of our systems,” Mark recalls. “She told us she loved it, but had a bone to pick with us—she’d just moved into a brand new development with 900 homes and wanted our system to go into the other 899. We’d love that, too.”