Down the Drain: How New Water Fixtures Can Help Save Water, Money
Down the Drain: How New Faucets Can Help Save Water, Money
It’d be safe to wager that most home energy-saving makeovers are the result of frustration with monthly utility bills. For most of us, that means making improvements to reduce our home electricity usage, and while this approach can be effective, it can also cause us to overlook efficiency improvements in other areas of the house, specifically water usage. Unlike your electric bill, you can probably open your water bill without risk of fainting. Because it’s often a less expensive cost, you may also reason that making improvements to your home’s water efficiency just isn’t worth the time and money, but don’t let this fool you.
Because gas and electricity are used in most homes to heat water, improvements to water efficiency are reflected in other costs as well. Of course, money isn’t the only reason to consider saving water. After all, it is a finite resource that we all require to live. While there are a variety of improvements to consider when aiming to reduce water usage, some of the most effective are also the simplest and cheapest to implement. Replacing faucets with newer models or adding aerators that reduce water flow can make a noticeable impact on home water efficiency. The experts at Blue Flame Heating & Air Conditioning have compiled a list of benefits for installing new fixtures – and saving both money and water.
Go with the (Low) Flow
If the faucets in your home are old, upgrading these is a great place to start if you’re looking to curb unnecessary water usage. This is especially true if your faucets were made prior to 1994.
Federal standards require all faucets (both kitchen and bathroom) made and sold in the U.S. after January 1, 1994 to use less than 2.2 gallons per minute.
For showerheads, usage cannot exceed 2.5 gallons per minute. These numbers represent about a 40 percent reduction compared to faucets used prior to that year, according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy.
This doesn’t mean you’re out of luck if your home’s faucets are newer. These numbers merely represent the maximum rates allowed. Even for relatively new installations, you’re likely to find models that can improve your setup if you know what to look for.
Have Some (Water) Sense
In 2006, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched the consumer product labeling program called WaterSense to encourage consumer water efficiency. Faucets and showerheads that bear the WaterSense label adhere to standards beyond those required by the federal mandate. Notably, these products cannot have a flow rate greater than 1.5 gallons per minute, a 35 percent decrease compared to federal maximums.
To carry the WaterSense label, showerheads must use less than 2 gallons per minute while also meeting performance standards such as spray force and coverage.
Unlike the 1994 federal standards, WaterSense provides guidance for voluntary standards and only applies to water appliances made for residential use.
Waste Not: Water-Saving Toilets and Other Strategies
While you’re considering faucet upgrades, don’t forget the toilet. Some modern toilet models include a half-volume flush option for liquid waste and whole flush for solid waste. If you’d rather stick with a more traditional toilet, you could still benefit from an upgrade. Depending on when they were made, toilets spend up to 5 gallons of water per flush. By contrast, all U.S. models on the market today are limited to 1.6 gallons per flush.
Don’t be afraid to think creatively about reducing water waste. One interesting example of this includes harnessing drain water for energy. While this may sound like science fiction to some, consider the amount of energy required to heat several gallons of water for a shower, load of laundry or dishwasher cycle. In each of these cases, the water is used briefly, and discarded while still warm. There are systems on the market now that allow this heat energy to be used.
You can save even more money by maintaining your water heater. The experts at Blue Flame can help you with annual maintenance, repair or the installation of a new tank. Call us at 206-388-5667 to schedule an appointment today!