Slow the Flow
Did you know every U.S. resident consumes an average of more than 100 gallons of water each day? It’s shocking but true, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Green Building Guidelines. Fortunately, there are many improvements you can make in your home to cut your family’s water usage.
One way to save water is to install a recirculating line for hot water. This will retain hot water in supply lines, ensuring the immediate availability of hot water at the faucet. The recirculating system keeps water from flowing down the drain while you wait for it to warm up.
Many faucets also come with water-saving options, including automatic sensors. Another way consumers can decrease water usage is by purchasing low-cost aerators that easily attach to sink faucets. Aerators often cost as little as $2.49 and can decrease a faucet’s water flow to 1.5 gallon per minute without disrupting it. The installation of low-flow showerheads and sink faucets also increase water savings.
Installing high-efficiency toilets is another way to reduce water usage. The Federal Energy Policy Act of 1992 mandates that new toilets use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush. Dual-flush toilets are one of the most practical options for residential remodeling. The dual-flush works by replacing the conventional flush with an innovative system that allows the user to utilize a flush with more water for solid waste and one with less water for liquids.
Another means of saving water, legal only in some geographical areas, is dramatically decreasing fresh water usage by substituting gray water. Gray water is water from the bath, shower, bathroom sink and washing machine, recycled for use in landscaping and, in some cases, flushing toilets.
Water heating is the third-largest energy user in homes, behind heating, HVAC systems and kitchen appliances, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Between 13 percent and 17 percent of home energy consumption is used to heat water. One way to decrease water and energy usage and bills is with the increasingly popular tankless water heater. Another more inexpensive option is to cover an old water heater with an insulating jacket that costs between $10 and $20. This can decrease heat loss by 25 to 40 percent.
Green Your Pipes
To make your pipes greener, replace those that have deteriorated or contain hazardous materials, such as lead, with cross-linked polyethylene pipes. They are flexible and strong at a wide variety of temperatures and less likely to burst than copper or galvanized pipes. Also, to save energy, be sure to insulate hot water pipes.
Plan For a Fan
Pots boiling on the stove can create moisture issues in the kitchens. To move steam and odors created during cooking out of the room and to prevent mold growth, install an exhaust fan that is vented outside. Consult a professional when choosing and installing a fan. Incorrect installation and assembly can create energy inefficiencies, and a fan that’s too large may be dangerous, pulling carbon monoxide from the chimney into the house.