Homeowners have always taken into consideration the cost of owning, maintaining, and upgrading their most precious investment. But in this millennium there’s another concern not far from every homeowner’s mind: Are you using resources efficiently and effectively? How can you reduce usage? And are the energy and water savings you will gain sufficient to offset the cost of upgrading to more environmentally-conscious fixtures and methods?
The good news is that eco-friendly plumbing isn’t just good for the environment, it’s good for your wallet, too. Check out the savings you’ll reap every year, year after year.
Flushing Dollars Down The Drain
Consider the new toilets that have a dual flushing mechanism, one for solid and a second for liquid waste. Used as instructed, this small upgrade may save you 50% off your toilet water usage, cutting your household water usage overall by 15%. Depending on your municipal water rates, that can save you $50 to $270 per year.
Savvy Sprinkler Systems
Outdoor use of water, like watering a lawn, accounts for about 30% of water use in the United States. Automated sprinkler systems that run at night or have a WaterSense irrigation controller that can detect moisture levels keep your lawn green in an environmentally effective way. Drip irrigation systems are the most eco-friendly. These use 20% to 50% less water than a standard sprinkler system and can save a homeowner 6% to 15% on their annual water bill.
Same Shower, Less Loss
Showers alone account for about 20% of the average household water usage. Showerheads that maintain pressure but reduce volume can reduce your gallons-per-minute from the standard 2.5 to around 1.75. Assuming the same length of a shower, that’s a 30 percent savings on shower water usage. All else being equal, that’ll cut your annual water cost by about 6%.
You’ll also save on the associated energy cost, since you’ll be heating less water in your water heater.
Fix Faulty Faucets
Unattended leaks can waste thousands of gallons of water a year. Fixing a leaking faucet is the number one DIY way to decrease water waste.
Faucet water accounts for about 15% of household water use. Most faucets use about 2.5 gallons per minute but eco-friendly ones can reduce that usage to about 1.5 gallons per minute, about a 40% savings. Like low-flow showerheads, eco-friendly faucet installation throughout your home can provide up to a 6% savings on your annual water bill.
Energy Smart Appliances
Your water heater contributes to nearly 20% of the energy consumption in your home, so upgrading to a high-efficiency heater can save you in both water and energy costs. Tankless water heaters are particularly efficient, as their energy savings are in the 40-60% range. These units last twice as long as tank heaters, and you’ll never have your shower go cold again.
When upgrading appliances, also take into account their energy and water usage by looking for Energy Star Appliances. Upgrading to a low-water-volume and energy-efficient dishwashers and washing machines may not show a huge impact on your utility bill, but their effect is cumulative. New water-efficient dishwashers reduce what is usually 15 gallons of water per load to as little as 4.5 gallons.
It’s Not A Pipe Dream
Talk to your plumber if you’re adding an addition to your home or doing a whole house re-pipe about using energy- and water-efficient materials and pipe configurations. In the meantime, consider adding pipe insulation around hot-water pipes to improve heat retention by 80%, which lowers energy use and costs.
To Infinity And Beyond
New eco-smart technologies are being developed all the time. The determined environmentalist may want to consider a composting toilet, rainwater collection systems which can save the average household up to 50% of municipal water consumption, or solar-powered water heaters.
Consider rolling in these improvements whenever you’re facing a household repair or renovation. The cumulative effect is a smaller environmental footprint and lower yearly costs, for as long as you own your home.