As never before, water utilities and government agencies are struggling to deal with the fact that more and more citizens need access to water, a resource that is far from infinite. The situation is especially serious in California, where changing weather patterns seem to be increasing the frequency and duration of droughts.
On one hand, building codes and other regulations are steadily tightening the specifications for the components of plumbing systems and, over time, the most wasteful options cease to be available.
On the other hand, there are things you can do to be proactive and to make your plumbing system more eco-friendly. In addition to the justifiable pride you can take in doing something about a serious environmental problem, you’re likely to discover that your investment will result in long-term financial benefits. Ben Franklin’s plumbers can help you move toward this goal.
1. The Basics
If you haven’t already done so, a great place to start in your conservation efforts is replacing basic components of your plumbing system with more efficient version.
It has been estimated that leaks account for an astonishing 30 percent of household water use in California. Finding and eliminating them is and obvious and powerful first step on your eco-friendly journey.
Toilets account for almost 30 percent of home water usage, which makes them a great place to start. Older toilets can require as much as three times the amount of water that modern low-flow toilets require. If you’ve been reluctant to make the switch because you are afraid a low-flow fixture won’t get the job done, times have changed with the latest developments in this technology.
If your home is relatively new, there’s a good chance you already have showerheads and faucets that meet modern efficiency standards. If you are unsure, a Ben Franklin plumber can quickly assess this for you. If your fixtures have not been changed recently, there’s a good chance you can make a big impact on your water budget by upgrading them.
The size of your pipes, and the material from which they are made can affect water pressure and possibly contribute to leakage, as well as affecting how much heat is lost from them (which affects the cost of having hot water). There may be some simple strategies for you to improve this, such as adding pipe insulators. You’ll likely need the help of a plumber to evaluate this aspect of your system.
6. Tankless Water Heaters
This eco-friendly innovation allows you to heat water on-demand. You’ll save on energy (another contribution to the environment) and you won’t be pulling water off the grid to warm unless you actually need it.
7. Cutting-Edge Eco-Friendly Options
The cutting edge of water conservation is in the realm of water re-use. If you want to push the envelope as far as possible, here are some options.
- Greywater Systems – California code allows you to use greywater – the water from your sink, shower and washing machine for sub-surface irrigation. This can be a great, and free, way to keep your plants and trees healthy. A Ben Franklin plumber can help you put in a code-compliant system.
- Rainwater Catchment – You are also allowed to collect rainwater for non-potable use. This has only recently become permissible.
- On-Site Recycling – If you are very ambitious, you can explore the possibility of recycling water on site. Residential implementation of this technology is in early stages, and you may have trouble finding the equipment you need to do it according to code (which includes health standards for the water). Let us know if you want to explore this.
As you can see, there’s much you can do to make your system more eco-friendly. Ben Franklin Plumbing’s experts would be happy to help you get started.