water conservation

Green Plumbing Solutions


How many of you are tired of the large water bills?
Have you ever looked at the volume of water you use when washing your hands. Most individuals just turn on the water, not paying attention to how hard the water is coming out.  We don’t need all the heavy volume to wash our hands .  By changing the aerator from 1.6  gallons per minutes to 1 gpm in one minute you save .6 gallons per minute. That’s 4.2 gallons per person per day, that’s 1,533 gallons per person per year. Based on a four person family that’s 6,132 gallons per year savings, if you use one full minute to wash your hands, very few people do. However what if you use a 50/50 mix of hot and cold? Now we have energy savings by not heating as much water.

What about the shower?
How long do you shower?

Here is a fun little product I found called The Waterpebble it’s a timer that reduces the minutes every time you use it.

Do you have to wait for the hot water to get to your shower? Do you turn on the hot water and walk the dog while your waiting. There are products to reduce hot water waste.

How hard is the spray?  Do you have one showerhead, two, three?  Showering in the average household accounts for 17% of the water usage or about 30 gallons a day per person. The standard showerhead delivers 2.5 gallons per minute.  There are several showerheads that deliver 2 gpm that must demonstrate they provide as good a quality shower as the 2.5 gpm showerheads.  The testing of showerheads is preformed by a third party testing agency, not the manufactures. That’s a 20% savings in water usage. Let’s look at the savings per year. 30gallons per person per day X average four people per family = 120 gallons per day X 365 days in a year = 43,800 gallons per year for showering X 20% savings = 8,760 savings per year on the water bill. Now if you heat half of this water that’s 4,380 gallons of hot water savings per year.

Toilet Talk
We’re all aware of the problems when the Government mandated the 3.5 gallons per flush toilets. The manufactures were scrambling to meet the mandate, and consequently we all suffered at first.  Eventually we discovered we could hold the handle down longer to provide an acceptable flush.
Now the Government says 1.6 gallons per flush. The manufactures had been given the time for the proper R&D.  And it’s hard to tell the difference without listening to the length of the flush. These 1.6 gallon flush toilets are very effective.
I recently changed the toilets in my house. I thought they were both 1.6 gpf toilets, because I could not tell the difference between them. To my surprise the newest one is a 1.28 gpf toilet, that’s a savings of 20% per flush.

What About Evaporative Coolers?
Those of you trying to save energy by using coolers, are in fact saving  energy. The energy savings is in electricity. I have a cooler on my house and use it constantly during the summer. I use my AC maybe one month during the summer. Five months out of the year I use my cooler. I have a ¼” tube that drains water constantly so the new clean water is introduced constantly to reduce the calcium and mineral deposit up on the pad.  I recently found that I could change the amount of water drained off. Master Cool claims a 3000 gallon savings per month with a system that exchanges the water every 6 hours of operation.

Water Heater
This is a subject I could spend hours talking about.

If you only need 30 gallons a day, you don’t need a 60 gallon water heater.
The newer efficient water heaters have more insulation around the tank, so they are wider. Consider the area you have to install the new water heater.
Tank type, either gas or electric is the most common type of water heater.

Gas has a flame at the bottom of the tank that heats the water. Requiring a gas line and a flue to vent the burnt gas. This type has a faster recovery rate than electric.

Electric has one to two elements submerged in the tank to heat the water usually 240 volts. Slower recovery rate. No flue.

Solar can be gas or electric usually electric. Consist of storage tank, solar collector usually roof mounted but can be on the ground, associated piping, one or two pumps, and a controller to monitor the tank and collector temperatures and activate the pump or pumps.

Just like the “LOW FLOW”  toilets the initial engineering and design were poor at best. Resulting in these problems

Today the solar systems are much better. Be aware of the solar shading in your area and also the structures and landscape that would hinder the collection of solar energy.
The payback for solar, is dependent upon the ability of a particular site to harvest the energy of the sun.

There are several rebates offered from various companies, cities, state, and the Federal Government. Some of these incentive programs are funded with a set amount each year. So don’t expect every refund to be available at the time you apply, they may have run out of money. On the Federal level most of the refunds are good till 2016.

Alternative water sources
Graywater systems, and rain harvesting systems are worth looking at.
Graywater systems utilize drain water from the laundry, laundry sink, lavatory, tub, and shower. Toilets, kitchen sinks, and dishwashers are prohibited from gray water collection.

Things to consider:

(graywater maximum storage time without treatment 24 hours)