Everybody wants to "go Green", save money, save energy...but does "Green" apply to plumbing? Of course it does...and we're not talking about not flushing the toilet, either. Here are five realistic, sanitary ways to save water, save energy, and save money.
1. Prevent leaks.
A little leak can run up big bills fast, especially if it's a leaking hot water tap. Leaking faucets are often caused by loose or worn washers, which are cheap and easy to fix. More serious leak problems may be hidden behind a wall panel, in the basement, or even below the ground, and may need professional attention. In addition to a dripping tap or running toilet, evidence of sneakier leaks might include chronically low water pressure, damp spots on the ground, hot water chronically running warm or cold, or a sudden increase in your city water bill. Leaks can damage the whole building as well as costing a lot of money, so leaks need to be fixed right away.
2. Insulate pipes.
Insulating pipes reduces the chance that pipes will freeze and burst in winter. Even indoors, insulating hot water lines reduces the amount of heat that may be wasted between the water heater and the sink.
3. Consider an "On Demand" water heater.
A conventional water heating tank wastes energy by keeping water hot all the time. One or two people can convert the tank to solar power by simply placing the water heater in front of a window that faces south or west. However, the "On Demand" type of heater is tankless and heats water when and as the hot water tap is turned on. The heating element is close to the tap to heat exactly as much water as you need. This new device is not cheap and may require redesigning your local plumbing service; still, if you can't run a tank on solar heat, a tankless heater can save money.
4. Don't clog drains.
When drains become clogged, baking soda (alkaline) may react with grease (acid) to remove the blockage. Or, if the blockage is more solid than grease, you can buy corrosive chemicals that are strong enough to dissolve hair, dental floss, even chicken bones. But plumbers recommend that you don't rely on these chemicals because they also corrode pipes and cause messy, expensive leaks...and if chemicals are in the pipes when they burst, the leakage can be dangerous. Protect your pipes by installing strainers on drains.
5. Know how to shut off water supply when you need to.
If you can't stop a toilet running or a faucet dripping, at least you can stop them costing you money. Find the water supply line and know how to shut it off. (If you have to shut off the water supply to a toilet, you can still use it by pouring a quart or half-gallon of water in for each flush, and repeating if necessary.)