Reducing your water usage and taking steps to conserve water has many practical benefits. Protecting community water supplies by saving water and energy, and reducing your utility bills are two of the most obvious benefits. You may not even realize how much water you waste during a day, but to put it in perspective, installing water efficient appliances and fixtures in every U.S household would save nearly three trillions gallons of water per year. This is especially important in areas that are prone to droughts.
Conserving water not only reduces demand on the water supply; it also saves a considerable amount of energy. Treating, heating, and pumping water through water delivery systems and home plumbing all require energy. By reducing water use, you reduce this energy use as well. Think of all the maintenance and taxes required to run treatment and distribution facilities and provide gas for heating. Using less water keeps more water in natural reservoirs and overall water costs down.
Making this switch is probably the best place to start when instituting a water conservation plan. Install low flow, water efficient plumbing fixtures like toilets, faucets, and showerheads. These fixtures have flow thresholds that limit the amount of water released when in use. Most of these low flow fixtures are tested and certified for efficiency and proper performance, so just because less water is used doesn’t mean the fixture is compromised. What’s more, you may even be able to get rebates or incentives from the city or utility providers for making to switch to high efficiency plumbing fixtures.
Toilets account for the most water use in a home, so switching your old water guzzling toilet for a newer, water efficient model is a good first step. There are a few options which all achieve the same overall goal of saving water and energy. Low flow toilets use less than 1.3 gallons of water per flush. This is the EPA water standard. Transitioning to a dual flush toilet can be even more effective since it allow for two levels of flushing depending on the type of waste. Finally, for the serious conservationist there are compost toilets which use little or no water. These require a certain level of maintenance but can save huge amounts of water annually.
Transitioning to a low flow showerhead can reduce water use by up to 75%. Showers account for a pretty significant portion of home water use, roughly 20-30%. Many low flow fixtures still provide strong water streams, but mitigate the water use by releasing only 2 gallons of water per minute. With water conserving showerheads you will notice the energy savings above all. Reducing your water, power, and gas bills saves energy and money for everyone. This also reduces the demand on your water pipes and water heater.
High efficiency faucets can help reduce water use by limiting water output to 1.5 gallons per minute. You can also install a flow restrictor to the faucet to help control water flow. When it comes to this plumbing fixture, however, individual use is the most important factor in saving water. Making sure faucets aren’t run longer than necessary and checking for and fixing leaks will save thousands of gallons of water.
Long Term Conservation
Just switching to high efficiency plumbing fixtures won’t actively conserve water; you must do that yourself. Becoming conscious about how much water you use and how much is wasted and taking measures to change this is the only way to effectively conserve water in the long term. Once you establish a water conservation plan and begin taking small steps to save energy, things become routine.
Everything from soaking dishes and rinsing rather than running the faucet to selecting a high efficiency washer to wash clothes add up. Doing full loads of laundry, taking shorter showers, and running less water inside and out are good practices that will save water and money. Also, begin comparing your water bills from month to month to gauge how effective your conservation efforts are. If you install good plumbing fixtures, monitor your home’s plumbing, and make water conservation a part of your daily life, saving energy is easy.
By Ben Vaughn
Ben Vaughn is a contributing writer for Scott Hale Plumbing and writes on everything from choosing a plumber to water conservation through plumbing fixtures.