When most homeowners hear the words “efficiency” and “conservation,” they tend to first think about their air conditioner, appliances, or how much electricity their light bulbs use. However, you should also know that your home’s plumbing can play a key role in helping your home use less water, electricity, and gas. In this article, we’ll review the four best ways to upgrade your home and make your plumbing more efficient.
With the help of an experienced plumber in your area, you can upgrade your kitchen and bathroom in a way that helps conserve both water and energy. To get started, read through our conservation tips below, and then talk to a locally trusted plumbing company about your options.
No matter where you live, water conservation should be important to every homeowner. While saving water often comes down to individuals using less, you can also help your home conserve this precious resource by installing low-flow showerheads and toilets.
Install a low-flow showerhead
The average American uses more than 17 gallons of water when they shower. Since those are also hot showers, showering can result in both water and energy waste, since longer showers mean more gas or electricity is used to heat water.
Homeowners can begin to curtail the amount of water used in the shower by installing low-flow showerheads. These new fixtures cut the flow rate down to less than 2 gallons-per-minute, which means that a five-minute shower should use about 10 gallons of water. The Environmental Protection Agency has set up the WaterSense program to identify water-saving showerheads, so look for that label when buying new ones for your home’s showers.
Beyond replacing the showerheads, you can take the following steps to conserve water:
- Use a shower timer to limit your total shower to about 5 minutes.
- Use a bucket to capture cold water that would otherwise go down the drain while waiting for the water to heat up. You can then use that water for other purposes, such as landscaping.
- Switch to taking cold showers in the summer to limit your energy use.
Replace your toilet
For older toilets, the standard toilet flush uses about 3.6 gallons. This means that the average person uses more than 18 gallons of water a day in the bathroom—the single-largest use of potable water in the average American home. You can cut down on your water usage in this area by installing a high-efficiency (also known as “low-flush”) toilet. These new toilets only use about 1.5 gallons of water per-flush, reducing your per-flush water use by half.
If you are working with a plumber to find a new toilet for your bathroom, be sure to look at dual-flush toilets. These come with two flush options: one for a half-flush and one for a full flush. This helps you and others in your home conserve water.
Reduce your energy use
While your home’s plumbing doesn’t use as much energy as your HVAC systems, the water heater uses about 14% of all the energy used in your home. By making your existing water heater more efficient or replacing it with an energy-conserving model, you can greatly reduce your home’s overall energy use.
Care for your water heater
As time passes, standard water heaters become less efficient due to the buildup of scale, corrosion, and sediment at the bottom of the tank. Since this is where the heating element is, this prevents the water heater from heating the water in its tank as effectively as it could otherwise. Over time, this will negatively impact the energy efficiency of the water heater.
To resolve this issue, have your water heater flushed out at least once-per-year. This process removes the built-up sediment at the bottom of the tank, ensuring that the water heater continues to operate efficiently and effectively.
Upgrade to a tankless water heater
Also known as “demand-type” water heaters, this new type of water heater heats water as it is needed instead of storing it in a tank. In other words, they are not having to continually heat water in storage or deal with the heat energy being lost through the walls of the tank. This makes them anywhere between 24-34% more energy-efficient than a standard water heater. This can not only save you hundreds on your electric or gas bills but can also greatly reduce your home’s carbon footprint.
Do your part for the environment- and your pocket, by following these tips to make your home plumbing more efficient.