Demonstration of High-Efficiency Hot Water Systems in Commercial Foodservice

High Efficiency Hot Water Systems for Commercial Food Service

Fisher-Nickel, Inc.


San Ramon, CA

Recipient Location


Senate District


Assembly District



Amount Spent



Project Status

Project Result

Research results indicate that making a number of modifications can have significant benefits. For example, replacing a non-condensing water heater with a condensing heater, adding pipe insulation, lowering the recirculation flow rate, and changing the recirculation return location could increase heating efficiency by up to 54 percent. The San Ramon Food Service Center will use the research results to inform custom commercial kitchen designers, plumbing professionals and regulatory bodies. Additional demonstrations are needed to show best-in-class equipment and design techniques and to document savings and benefits.

The Issue

Most of the changes to commercial hot water systems have concentrated on efficiency improvements at the heater and water-reduction measures at end-use fixtures. Taking this single component-based approach has not significantly improved the efficiency or performance of modern hot water systems installed in commercial kitchens. Innovative and emerging technologies exist that can contribute towards reducing this load by greatly improving the efficiency of hot water systems. Combined with the design of optimized distribution systems, these technologies can deliver much-improved delivery performance.

Project Innovation

This project validates the natural gas savings of high-efficiency advanced hot water distribution system designs, measurement of energy savings, and optimization techniques to encourage the design community to adopt these measures. The project includes a dissemination program and includes development of design tools and a cost calculator to help the industry with decision-making regarding appropriate technology.

Project Benefits

This project compared different hot water systems and distribution systems used in commercial food service to determine optimal systems that would reduce water and energy use, increase system efficiencies, and provide high hot water delivery performance. The results show significant water and energy savings and improved system performance through the demonstration of higher efficiency equipment, superior system design, distribution system controls, and operating best practices. Improvements showed over 40 percent energy savings compared to baseline. This information forms the basis of improving system designs and targets commercial kitchen designers, plumbing professionals and regulatory bodies for potential inclusion in future Title 20 and Title 24 energy regulations. This information can help pivot the design industry away from inefficient 20th century hot water system designs.

Lower Costs


Improved hot water system delivery efficiency of up to 54 percent based on recent test results.

Environmental & Public Health

Environmental Sustainability

Reduction in natural gas use will result in reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Key Project Members

Project Member

David Zabrowski

Project Manager



Davis Energy Group, Inc.


Fisher Consulting


Institute of Gas Technology dba GTI Energy


Pacific Gas and Electric Company


Match Partners


Pacific Gas and Electric Company


Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas)


ACT, Inc. Metlund Systems


A. O. Smith Corporate Technology Center




Eemax Electric






Contact the Team