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5 Steps to Greener Plumbing

The green home—the home of the future. You don’t have to time-travel, though, to get your home environmentally- or energy-friendly. One place you can start going green is your plumbing. Check out these 5 steps to saving water and the environment with the turn of a faucet.

1. Copper Piping

Many homes are fitted with galvanized pipes, which erode over time and need to be replaced.

Consider refitting your system with copper piping, a long-lasting and virtually maintenance-free option. This type of piping usually lasts about 50 years, so once you install it, you can stop thinking about it. Copper is also a natural, more environmentally-friendly material.

2. Water Harvesting and Treatment

One great way to help the environment is to reuse water. Harvest rain water with barrels or cisterns for gardening, car washing, and other appropriate, non-ingested uses. If you want to take your water harvesting to the next level, you can invest in a filtration system that will make your rainwater potable and usable in your home. Try saving water after it’s already been used, too, with a gray water treatment system. Gray water is waste water from doing dishes, sink faucets, or showers (as opposed to black water from toilet waste and garbage disposals).

Treatment products are available for this harvested gray water to be used for non-ingested purposes. Water harvesting and treatment is a bit more costly to install, and you should leave it to the professionals. However, once you get past the upfront costs, the system will save you an impressive amount of money on bills, not to mention help the environment through water recycling.

3. Pipe Insulation

You’d be surprised by how much energy is waster in keeping your hot water hot from the water tank to the shower. Insulate your pipes to reduce heat-loss (and energy consumption) during water travel. You can find simple and inexpensive pipe insulation sleeves at your local home improvement store. Also prevent excessive heat loss by removing plumbing from exterior walls, if possible. Keeping plumbing in interior walls automatically creates a warmer environment for the water and prevents frozen pipes during winter.

4. Toilet Upgrades

Make your throne fit for an environmentally-conscious king by opting for a low-flow toilet.

Toilets alone can make up 26% of a household’s water usage, so strike the heart of the matter by changing toilets. Low flow toilets use 20% to 60% less gallons of water per flush, potentially saving you anywhere from $90 to $180 per year on water bills, while still performing well. You can also look into a dual-flush toilet, which (like the name implies) has two flushing options, depending on your needs. This assists in reducing useless water usage for small amounts of waste.

5. Faucet Upgrades

Whether it’s in the bathroom, shower, or the kitchen sink, leaving the faucet running can be a big problem. Upgrading your faucets to more water-conscious models can help reduce water usage (and water waste). Low-flow faucets and showerheads can save 2 gallons of water or more in one day. You can even get an adjustable showerhead to appease those with an affinity for high-pressure showers. If a brand new faucet isn’t your style, check out faucet aerators – these essentially leave the flow of the faucet alone, but add in some air. It feels like strong water pressure, but most of it is air pressure. Nifty.

Making your home greener doesn’t have to be difficult — just start with these 5 steps for the plumbing. Every little bit counts, and the earth appreciates it. Now go turn off that faucet you left running.

The author, Theo Schmidt has an interest in computer science and engineering, and he uses that interest to fuel his blogging. Theo also enjoys spending time in the outdoors, and he is passionate about protecting the environment. He likes to find ways to conserve natural resources, from innovations in plumbing in Edmonton to new hybrid cars in Chicago.

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