Install Low-Flow Bathroom Fixtures
Our first tip can be done incrementally or postponed until routine home maintenance takes place. The term low-flow appliance refers to appliances connected to your plumbing system that require very little water to function. A prime example of such an appliance is a dual flush toilet. These toilets are designed to flush in two ways; the first utilizing very little water for liquid waste, and the second a stronger flush for solid waste. The result is a toilet that saves thousands of gallons of water per year. Models labeled “WaterSense” use up to 20 percent less water than a standard toilet and can be purchased for under $1000.
Shower heads are another cause of excessive water usage. Installing a low-flow shower head can reduce water usage by up to a half gallon per minute. The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, estimates that if every home in the United States installed WaterSense certified shower heads, our nation could save more than 260 billion gallons of water annually, with the average family saving 2,900 gallons. This same savings would also reflect on energy cost to heat wasted water, saving an estimated 2.6 billion dollars per year.
As a bonus, saving water in Denver is even more important than other areas of the country. We all know just how dry Colorado can get, making our water saving efforts increasingly important.
Purchase Energy Efficient Appliances
The principle behind this recommendation is very similar to our low-flow appliances suggestion, but we felt it warranted a dedicated overview. The Energy Star program was originally devised by the EPA and eventually expanded to other nations, becoming an international standard to measure energy efficiency. Replacing old appliances with their Energy Star certified counterparts could yield tremendous savings. The EPA offers a calculator that shows exactly how much money and energy you’ll be saving.
Looking at specific appliances, we recommend purchasing an Energy Star certified tankless hot water heater. A relatively new concept, these hot water heaters work by rapidly heating water with coils, eliminating the need for a standalone water tank. This saves both energy and water, as the only water being heated is that which is being consumed immediately.
Properly Insulate Pipes
Insulating your home’s pipes can have a tremendous impact on hot water costs. A hot water heater works extra hard, using more electricity or more gas, to heat pipes that are constantly exposed to harsh weather conditions. Even here in Denver, where the sun warms the ground on the coldest of winter days, insulated pipes can make a difference. The process can raise water temperature by as much as 5 degrees Fahrenheit, allowing for lower hot water heater temperatures, thus saving energy.
Use Natural Products to Unclog Pipes
As we mentioned in our article covering maintenance of kitchen and laundry room water lines, natural enzymes can be used in place of harsh chemicals when unclogging drains. Adding an enzyme-based cleaner to your drains on a weekly basis can help prevent clogs from forming before they reach the point of obstructing your pipes, and because the cleaner works by introducing bacteria that eat your clogs, no harsh chemicals enter into your plumbing or the environment.
We know that going green with your plumbing can seem like an expensive undertaking, but you shouldn’t let that deter you. We recommend making a slow transition to eco-friendlier plumbing by replacing old appliances as needed with their sustainable counterparts. Using this strategy, eventually all of our homes will contribute to saving our planet, without homeowners feeling pressured to replace fully functioning appliances. In the interim, insulating your plumbing is a low cost update, and enzyme based drain cleaners are found at any Denver area hardware store.
If you’re interested in moving towards a green home, contact us. Our experienced professionals are happy to help!