Joulia : Reusing the shower’s heat

Joulia : Reusing the shower’s heat

A hot shower is a real pleasure. When the water disappears down the plughole, however, it still contains valuable energy. Joulia SA, based in Biel, has developed a system that enables the heat from waste water to be used a second time.

A leisurely shower consumes the same amount of energy as that used by a man to climb the Eiffel tower on foot 55 times. This comparison is used by Joulia SA to illustrate how worthwhile it is to be economical with hot water from the shower. But being economical need not mean going without. Joulia SA, a start-up from Biel, has developed a heat exchanger that is integrated into the shower outflow, where it recovers the thermal energy from the waste water. This heat is used to preheat the cold water before it reaches the mixer tap; it is then combined with the hot water and recirculated to the shower. “Depending on the size of your shower head, you will save between 30 and 40% of the energy used; the cost savings mean that our system pays for itself by the end of three years,” says Reto Schmid, co-founder and CEO of Joulia SA. 


Success the second time around 

The first foundation stone of the Biel company was laid nine years ago, when mechanical engineer Christoph Rusch – now technical director of Joulia SA – developed the basic heat recovery system at the Biel innovation centre Creaholic SA, with an initial design that involved fitting the whole shower tray with a heat exchanger. A second product, Joulia-Inline, appeared in 2015. This time, the design of the heat exchanger was so compact that it could be fitted into the narrow pipe of a shower outflow. Reto Schmid, architect and industrial designer, is especially proud of the compact size, the simplicity of installation and the ease of cleaning. “With Joulia-Inline, we are offering a simple, economical system that has been really well-received in the bathroom plumbing sector, and one which other bathroom suite manufacturers can integrate into their own showers.” 


Cooperation with established brands 

Building up a new company in the sanitation industry requires patience; major projects usually have development periods of two to three years. The Biel Foundation for Technological Innovation (STI), the economic promotion department of the Canton of Bern and the Swiss Climate Foundation all provided support for the creation of the start-up. There are now several versions of Joulia’s heat recovery system, suitable for both new buildings and renovations. Unlike other heat exchangers used in waste water, the Joulia system can be extended, and it is equipped with an integrated leak detection system. The company has a firm foothold in German-speaking Switzerland, and is currently building up its sales in the French-speaking cantons. Joulia SA is also active in the UK and the Netherlands. According to Reto Schmid, Joulia SA will in future concentrate on working together with the manufacturers of shower taps, instant water heaters and solar heating installations to offer package solutions: “It will benefit us as a newcomer to enter the market together with well-known manufacturers.” 

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