Greener Plumbing Tips
Are you concerned about making your home plumbing more environmentally friendly? Are you looking for more ways to conserve water? Here are some easy tips that are also affordable.
1. Fix Leaks. Leaking kitchen or bathroom faucets, shower heads and water pipes are just plain wasteful. A single leaky tap dripping once per second means an extravagant 8 gallons of water go down the drain every day. (Unfortunately, a leaky hot water heater is a more serious - and costly - problem; possibly a sign that your water heater will need to be replaced.)
2. Install a low-flow shower head. As per federal law, the maximum allowable flow for all new showers these days is a conservative 2.5 gallons per minute. This is way down from pre-1992 shower heads, which often had flow rates as high as 5.5 gpm. So if you have one of those heads, you could be using as much as 24 gallons of water for the 8-minute average shower.
3. Switch to showers. Using a shower with a modern shower head for 5 minutes uses less than a fifth of the water than a bath. The average bath uses 70 gallons! Next time you shower, plug the drain and see how fast that water fills up. Save the bath for a special event!
4. Use your washing machine wisely. If your machine doesn’t have a setting for size loads, plan your laundry to run full loads. If you are in the habit of washing only whites in a load, remember than pastel colors can also be washed with whites (unless you are adding bleach). Just don’t overfill, as too many clothes don’t move well to get everything clean.
5. Insulate your plumbing pipes. Ready-made insulation can be purchased in easy-to-install tube form. Insulating copper or plastic pipes will cause hot water to stay significantly warmer on its way to your bathroom or kitchen. Happy result is that you will probably be able to lower your water heater setting and still enjoy your nice hot shower in the morning.
6. Use your dishwasher wisely also. Should you happen to own a new Energy Star certified dishwasher, great. Don’t pre-rinse and do fill to capacity for the most efficient method of getting your dishes clean, at 3-5 gallons of water and 1 kWh of electricity per load. But did you know that carefully planned hand-washing can be nearly as green as using the most newfangled dishwasher? Here’s how: fit your kitchen faucet with an aerator to reduce water flow. Scrape food bits off your dishes (and into the compost, as appropriate). Have a basin of warm soapy water to soak pots, plates, and cutlery … much more efficient than pre-rinsing. And never let the water run unnecessarily. You’ll use less than 8 gallons of water plus 1 kWh of energy. Compare that to the 15 gallons and 2-3 kWh an old-model dishwasher consumes.

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