Green Plumbing & Water Conservation Tips
Whether you live in drought-stricken regions or not, it's important to conserve water whenever possible, and more effectively use the water you need. You'll notice a difference in your water bills, too. And even if you're saving just a few dollars a month, that money will really add up in the long term. With that in mind, look at these easy ways to go green and use less water around the house.
- Adjust Your Water Pressure
When your home’s water pressure is more than 60 pounds per square inch (psi), it can damage your plumbing. Your local water authority can tell you how high your water pressure should be, and if necessary, you can install a pressure-reducing valve that will conserve a great deal of water. It’s easy to check your water pressure using gauges that are available at home and hardware stores. They cost about ten dollars and will screw right onto outdoor hose bibs just like a garden hose.
- Fix Leaks
Is your kitchen or bathroom faucet dripping? Or perhaps there's always a small puddle of water beneath your outdoor spigot? A leaky faucet that drips once per second can waste more than 8 gallons a day. That's 3,000 gallons per year! Fix leaky faucets as soon as possible. Leaky toilets can waste even more water than dripping faucets. Check for silent toilet leaks by dropping a few drops of food coloring into your toilet tank. Wait 15 minutes then look in the bowl. If the water in the food coloring has made its way into the bowl, you have a leak! Replacing your toilet’s flapper valve will fix most toilet leaks, and it’s an easy DIY fix.
Check for household water leaks with your water meter during a period of time when no water is being used. Make a note of the meter reading and check it 8 to 10 hours later. If the meter has moved, you have an undetected water leak, which should be corrected.
- Switch to Low-Flow Fixtures
If you have old faucets or shower heads, replace them with low-flow versions. You'll save water and see a decrease in your water bill! Replacing an old shower head can save up to 7.5 gallons of water per minute without sacrificing full spray action. Low-flow shower head have come a long way since the disappointing first-generation models. Today’s low-flow shower heads are so well engineered, you probably won’t notice you are using a low-flow head at all. Expect an annual savings of up to $145 in energy & water savings for a family of four.
- Run Full Loads
Any time you're using your dishwasher or doing the laundry, wait to run the machine until you have a full load. If you must run smaller loads, change the water settings on your appliances to account for it. Check the controls to see if you’ve overlooked a more efficient setting that conserves energy and/or water.
- Rethink Your Lawn Watering
Automated sprinkler systems are convenient, but they can waste a lot of water. Consider watering your gardens and lawn manually so you don't overwater after heavy rainfall. If you want, attach a timer to your sprinkler - you can set it up manually and it will turn off automatically after a few minutes. Sprinkler timers are more affordable than ever and they will more than pay for themselves in water savings!
- Replace Old Toilets
Even though paying for a new toilet may seem like a lot of unnecessary money to spend when your current toilet is working fine, it's definitely worth it if you want to conserve water and save money. Older models can use more than twice as much water per flush than newer ones, up to 7 gallons per flush, which is a serious waste of water and money. Your options include 1.6 gallon-per-flush (gpf), today’s standard toilet is called HET, or high-efficiency toilet. You can conserve even more by opting for a 1.28gpf, UHT, or ultra-high efficiency toilet. The third option is a dual-flush toilet that has two flush buttons, allowing the user to choose a low-power flush (0.8gpf) for liquid waste and a full-power (1.6gpf) flush for solid waste.
- Convert Existing Toilets into Dual-Flush Toilets
If you have DIY skills, you can turn your ordinary toilet into an efficient dual-flush toilet by replacing the flapper valve and flush valve with a dual-flush converter kit. Major hardware/home centers stock them. We’re partial to Danco’s HydroRight kit because it is relatively easy to install, is very reliable. Adding this kit to a standard 1.6gpf toilet will save a family of four up to 15,000 gallons of water per year.
- Don't Leave Water Running
Leaving the water running while you brush teeth, shave, or wash dishes can quickly waste lots of water. Get into the habit of turning water off and on as needed. Keep a dish brush near the kitchen sink and use it to remove stuck-on food instead of just relying on your water sprayer.