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As a homeowner, you look for ways to increase your home’s sustainability. Not only does an eco-friendly home decrease your impact on the environment, it can also help you save money.
One of the most important systems when it comes to home sustainability is your plumbing. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that the average family of four goes through approximately 400 gallons of water each day. Reducing your water usage is a smart, environmentally friendly choice that can also prolong the life of your plumbing and help you save money on your water bills.
In this blog, we list six plumbing measures that can make your system more efficient and help you conserve water.
1. Eliminate Water Leaks
Even small leaks in your plumbing system can waste large quantities of water. The EPA reports that every year, household leaks waste one-trillion gallons of water, about the same amount used by 11 million homes.
If you notice an obvious leak, such as a dripping faucet or running toilet, have the problem addressed immediately. Many of these visible leaks only require a small, quick repair to dramatically reduce the amount of wasted water.
You should also have a reputable plumber inspect your system to detect leaks if you notice a sudden spike in your water usage or notice that your water meter continues running with no faucets on.
2. Install Low-Flow Faucets and Showerheads
Many conventional faucets allow more water flow than necessary. Low-flow and aerated alternatives can reduce the actual amount of water being used without changing the perceived water pressure.
For comparison, a typical showerhead delivers about 26 gallons of water over the course of a 10-minute shower while a low-flow showerhead reduces the water usage to 20 gallons without affecting the shower’s comfort.
In most cases, you have the option to install a new shower or faucet head to an existing fixture or to replace the fixture entirely.
3. Insulate Your Water Pipes
When you water takes longer to warm up, you may leave the tap running for longer periods of time. One of the ways to shorten the time it takes for hot water to reach your bathroom or kitchen is to improve your water-pipe insulation.
Insulated pipes don’t allow the water to lose as much heat as it travels from the hot-water heater to your faucet. This small change can save both water and electricity since your water heater won’t have to work as hard to provide enough hot water.
You can insulate any pipes that run outdoors using foam, but you should rely on the help of a plumbing professional to check and optimize the insulation on any concealed pipework.
4. Opt for an Energy-Efficient or Tankless Water Heater
If you have the budget for a larger plumbing renovation, consider replacing your reservoir hot-water heater with a newer energy-efficient model or with a tankless heating unit. Older reservoir heaters feature a large tank where water is heated and stored. These heaters can use a lot of energy to keep the water warm and lose a lot of hot water during the delivery process, as we discussed in the last section.
Tankless water heaters warm up water as you need it so that you get hot water almost immediately without having to let the reservoir fill up, heat, and deliver first.
5. Upgrade Your Toilets
Like your faucets, your toilets use a lot of water to function. The average toilet uses almost three and a half gallons of water every flush. High-efficiency toilets, on the other hand, cut the water amount by more than half and use only one and a half gallons.
You even have the option of installing dual-flush toilets. A dual-flush model gives you the option of using less water to flush away liquid waste than you use to flush solid waste. Most dual toilets have a one-gallon setting for liquid waste and a one-and-a-half-gallon option for solid waste.
6. Use Eco-Friendly Water-Treatment Products
True sustainability requires more than just reducing your overall water usage. You should also pay attention to the chemicals and other solutions that go into your plumbing system. Anything that goes into your system could potentially come in contact with groundwater, so whenever possible, use natural products.
Avoid disposing of harsh chemicals and difficult food waste, like grease, via your toilets or drains. When you need to unclog a drain or treat your septic tank, use an eco-friendly plumbing product that comes recommended by a reputable plumber.
These gentler enzyme alternatives have the added benefit of reducing the wear and tear on your pipes, drains, and septic tank over time so that you don’t need as many repairs.
Use these strategies to make your home more eco-friendly. And remember: when it comes to using less water, what’s good for the earth is good for you. Losing less water will also decrease your water bill.