Patents, Prototypes, Manufacturing, and Marketing New Inventions
Marketing A New Home Improvement Product
More marketing of the Hot Water Saver invention
As it turned out, there isn't or at least there wasn't that much consumer demand for energy conservation. The hot water saver could save home owners quite a bit of money, many times the cost of the device. With an electric water heater, it could save several hundred dollars a year. But that just wasn't enough incentive to drum up any sales.
Thank goodness for the title 24 regulations requiring new homes to be energy efficient. That was just about the only way to market our new product.
We installed the devices as tests, in all kinds of small businesses such as beauty parlors, laundromats, restaurants, fast food outlets, etc. They always saved tons of energy, but no one ever wanted to buy one. LOL
It was a different story with new construction. What we managed to get into the regulations, was a water heating credit for using a "hot water recovery system". We had a marketing guy who would call on builders, energy consulting firms, and architects and explain how the credits could be used to replace other products at a lower cost or for some other benefit such as more window area, or lower cost appliances.
We used direct mail and called upon wholesale distributors and other plumbing supply stores. Business was finally starting to ramp up after about 5 years of intense struggle, including a year without even taking a salary.
That's when the bottom fell out.
We had sold about 5,000 of the hot water savers. We started getting a call here and there about leaking units. uh-oh.
To make a long story short, after several years hooked up to a water heater, a great many of the units would crack. And wherever a crack happened there was a very large leak. There were lawsuits and insurance claims and we had to shut the whole thing down.
However...during our years of marketing the hot water saver, we had attended numerous trade shows and talked to hundreds of home owners and we knew what they wanted. It wasn't energy conservation. Nope. What they wanted was FAST hot water.
The most often asked question at the trade shows was "Will I get my hot water faster?". People want convenience! One day my partner Mr. Metzger, our marketing guy Larry, and I, were on our way to a public utility commission meeting in San Francisco, when it suddenly struck me.
There is a way to get the hot water to the fixtures faster! Now there is a novel concept...invent something people already want. I had realized I could put a pump in the line, that would pump the hot water at high speed to the fixture, sending it in a loop back to the water heater, without running any water down the drain. When the hot water reached the sink we could have the pump automatically shut off.
I designed some control circuitry, and hooked up a pump through a simulated house piping system that we had rigged up in our lab for testing of the hot water saver. Our crude prototype worked great. Fast hot water without wasting hot water by running it down the drain.
With the demise of the hot water saver, we turned our attention to the "on demand" hot water system.
Maybe the story of the "Metlund D'mand System" should be my next story. Stay tuned....
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