Going green is all the rage this year, as our collective consciousness with regards to the impact we’re having on the environment is at an all-time high. We are doing things like banning single-use plastics, changing our coffee cup lids to recyclable materials, electrifying our cars, making solar and other renewable energy sources more affordable.
But what are we doing in our homes? More specifically, what are we doing with our plumbing? Here is a five-step guide that will show you how to make your home’s pipes more environmentally-friendly this year.
Step 1: Check your existing pipes
Before you spend the money on a green plumber, you should always check your existing pipes and see if any are in need of repair. Plumbing repairs don’t always need to be done by a professional.
Something simple like a slow leak can be fixed with some plumbers tape, found in any local hardware store. Your average leaky pipe can waste up to 3000 gallons of water per year, or 180 showers.
Step 2: Make a bigger difference by dual-flushing
Sure, fixing leaks is the cheapest and easiest option, but if you really want to make a difference in your home’s plumbing, you’ll need to take at least somewhat of a dive and make some bigger changes. Starting with installing a dual-flush toilet.
You’ll see these everywhere in most commercial buildings because they are being made standard-issue for most new commercial infrastructure projects by the Government of Australia. Dual-flush toilets save up to 6 and 3 liters of water on a full and half flush respectively.
Most of these toilets suggest that you save the full-flush for solid waste and use the half-flush for liquid waste. You’ll likely need a green plumber to install something like a dual-flush toilet, as it is a technology with which they are intimately familiar.
Step 3: Don’t just think toilets, taps, and showers
Other things in your home use water, too. Like your washing machine. Most people don’t think of their washing machine as a water-guzzling machine, but depending on your washer, you could be using anywhere from 15 to 20 gallons of water per load. That’s just over 1000 gallons of water every year, just on washing your clothes.
There are many ways to address this. The first option is to simply hand-wash some of your delicates. Things like underwear, bras and the like can often be hand washed with just regular hand-soap and hot water and they’ll come out just fine. No need for a full wash for a small bag of delicates.
If you’re really concerned about how much water your washer is using, say, if you’re washing more than once per week because you have a large family, it might be worth investing in a more efficient washing machine.
Step 4: Where else could you get water from?
You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. You could build a whole new wheel. Consider other alternatives to using groundwater. Consider rainwater harvesting instead. This can be a relatively simple setup, something like an eavestrough with a catchment barrel on the deck or ground, letting the accumulated rainwater collect in the barrel.
A further option would be to have that water filtered from the barrel(s) through a series of pipes going into larger containers in your home that are easier to procure the filtered water from. Rainwater harvesting catches something close to 275 billion liters of water annually. Think of all you could do with 275 billion liters of water brought to you from the sky above, for free.
Step 5: Consider solar options
Solar energy is fast increasing in popularity, particularly with so much of America seeing so much sun throughout the year, it makes a lot more sense to consider solar as one of your primary methods of electricity generation, water heating, etc.
Yes, the installation costs for solar are high initially, which is why you’ll likely need a green plumbing professional to connect your solar hot water heater to your indoor plumbing. However, solar energy saves you a great deal of money in the long run. Consider making this a priority investment for your new home.