Knowing what your carbon footprint is isn’t the only way to start conserving. Knowing your water footprint can also help you learn more about your home water usage, and begin to look for ways to conserve.
Let’s start by asking the question, “how much water do use on average every day?”
According to WaterFootprint.org, the average person on earth uses 328.366 gallons of fresh water each year for things like drinking, cooking, cleaning and flushing. Yet for the average American, that figure almost doubles to 655,939 gallons per person per year.
While its easy to look at current reservoir levels, or annual rainfall amounts and think we may not have a water shortage within Colorado, what’s also important to keep in mind is sustaining these levels and having enough of a water supply for our future consumption, 10, 20 even 50 years into the future.
Your water footprint is a way to show the average person an easy way to think about how much water they use over the course of a year. It encompasses the amount of water required to produce food, goods and services used by you as an individual. By becoming aware of how much water you are using per year, you’ll also become aware of how important it is to start thinking conservation, and coming up with ways to reduce your own personal water footprint as much as possible.
So what are the best things for you to do to begin reducing your own water footprint?
Start with the obvious. Fix leaks immediately. Purchase energy savings appliances, and put in water saving toilets, faucets and showerheads.
Then learn all you can about water conservation. As your premier local green plumber, we offer a water use analysis to help you identify leaks and offer advice in the area of water loss prevention, conservation and purification.
What’s the easiest way to reduce your water footprint? Think toilet water.
Flush toilets aren’t new; the first patent for a flushing toilet was issued to Alexander Cummings in 1775. Every home has one (or more), and it’s something we simply can’t live without.
Yet with all the talk about water conservation, the toilet is probably the most overlooked way of starting up your in home conservation plan. The truth is toilets are water hogs. On average a toilet will use around 18.5 gallons of water each day. That’s more than showers, faucets, appliances and leaks combined on an average day.
Over the years, toilets have come down in the amount of gallons needed per flush. Prior to 1994, toilets used approximately 5 gallons per flush, sending the average family of four’s toilet water usage up to 300-400 gallons per day. After 1994, the National Energy Policy Act of 1992 went in effect for all residential toilets, setting the upper limit of a single flush at 1.6 gallons of water.
If you still have an old toilet using up to 5 gallons per flush, replace it immediately. Water rebate programs are still in effect throughout Colorado, which gives you a $125 rebate for replacing your toilet with an energy efficient model.
Many new toilet models have reduced water usage down to 1.1 gallons per flush and lower. The newest models offer dual flush systems, which allows you to choose the water level needed for a flush.
By simply replacing your home toilets, the amount of water savings can add up into the thousands of gallons per year. Which can also help you save about $100 or more a year in costs as well.
While toilet water isn’t going to be the cure-all for our water conservation problems, it is a step in the right direction.
Times are tough all over. Instead of replacing home items with newer models, you may be joining millions of other homeowners and start thinking of a do it yourself project instead.
The top 7 do it yourself plumbing projects are:
1. Fixing a leaking showerhead
2. Fixing a leaking bathroom or kitchen faucet
3. Clearing clogs from kitchen and bathroom drains
4. Repairing a toilet leak
5. Replacing fixtures in the kitchen or bathroom
6. Maintaining the hot water heater
7. Replacing or fixing the garbage disposal
For any plumbing project, the best way to get started is to have everything you need in place before you get started, and have the time available to complete the project.
As a professional plumber, I end up in countless homes finishing up projects that either took longer than anticipated, or were simply more difficult than the homeowner expected. While cutting costs anyway you can is important, its also important to fix the problem the right way the first time. Whether you have a problem you need help with, or would like us to finish up a project you haven’t yet completed, Quality 1st Plumbing is here as a resource to you.
1. Conserve water when washing dishes by hand by filling up both sink basins with water. Wash in one; rinse in the other. If you only have one basin, wash several dishes before you rinse.
2. Scrape plates, pots and pans into a compost or the trash rather than rinsing with water. Most new dishwashers do not require rinsing, and can handle even the most stubborn foods.
3. Start a compost. It will eliminate the need for running water down the drain for rinsing, and can help you feed your landscaping throughout the summer months.
4. Run the dishwasher only when it’s completely full.
5. Use low levels of water and detergent when washing dishes by hand. With less soap suds, you’ll have less rinsing.
6. If your refrigerator doesn’t have a water tap, place a pitcher of water inside to avoid running the tap for cold water before filling up your glass.
7. Wash multiple fruits and vegetables together in a bowl of water instead of running water over them. The key is to scrub them clean, not spray them.
8. Use minimal amounts of water for boiling and cooking. Vegetables and pasta need just enough water to keep them submerged during the cooking process.
9. Eat meat and dairy foods in smaller proportions, and less often during the week. On average, a pound of beef takes about 1,500 gallons of water to produce.
10. Keep your drains and garbage disposal free of waste and working well. Schedule routine maintenance to guarantee them to be clog-free, which will eliminate higher water usage.
Want to conserve more energy in your home? Replacing toilets and faucets, and buying energy efficient appliances is a great start. But don’t forget about your water heater. Up to 25 percent of each energy dollar you spend within your home goes to heating water.
Today’s water heaters are a lot more energy efficient than models produced even a few years ago. And with more options in heating your water, there’s a perfect choice for your home.
The average water heater has a life expectancy of around 13 years. Even if you choose a new water heater that saves $5 per month in energy costs, that can add up to a savings of $780 over the life of the water heater.
Lets look at some water heater comparisons, and help you decide the right one for you.
Electric versus Gas
Different homes were built to accommodate different types of water heaters. Check to see what your home is currently using. In many cases a home isn’t equipped to use both. If a home has no access to a gas supply, there’s no way to install a gas water heater.
There is little difference in the overall efficiency of electric versus gas. Energy prices vary all the time for both, and ultimately the decision should come down to the easiest to install in your home.
If you live in a rural area, your water heater may work off of propane. Propane is usually less expensive than electric, and can be the perfect choice for your home.
Solar and Tankless
Solar and tankless hot water systems are expanding in popularity. Solar models use the sun to warm the water, and then store the hot water for future use.
Tankless water heaters don’t use a tank, but instead heat the water on demand. Common misconceptions about tankless water heaters are that you’ll receive instant hot water on demand, and that hot water will always be available. It still takes time to run the hot water from the processor to the tap. And depending on how much hot water you demand at one time – for multiple showers and other usage – you can have issues with hot water supply.
The key with both of these systems is finding out as much as you can before you make a large investment into newer technology. Check with your local plumber for more information.
One of the most widely used appliances in your home is your hot water heater. From washing your hands to running a load of laundry, having warm water available all the time tends to be something we take for granted.
So when your water heater has problems, it can make a significant impact on the whole household. Here are some things to watch out for.
- Not enough hot water.
- Water that’s too hot or too cold.
- Smelly water.
- The tank makes noises.
- A leaking tank.
If you encounter a problem, the first thing to try is flushing out the tank. Drain the hot water out of the holding tank. After the hot water is drained, close the tank drain and open the cold water intake valve. Fill the tank with cold water, then drain. This will flush out sediment, and can eliminate many water heaters problems.
Keep in mind while this process is fairly straight forward, it can be messy. Be careful when draining the hot water, as it is easy to get scalded in the process. Also be aware of where the water will drain, as a water heater holds up to 60 gallons of water. The last thing you want to do is flood your room or basement. Your local plumber has experience in dealing with all aspects of water heater repair and replacement, and will prevent unnecessary leaks and breakage.
If your water heater has a leaking tank, its time for replacement. There are no fixes for a leaking tank. Leaving a leaking tank unattended can put you at risk of flooding if the tank gives out completely. Contact your local plumber to find the right water heater for your home, and replace quickly.
Thinking of making a change in your home? Maybe it’s time to talk with a plumbing consulting company to find out more about new technologies, and ways to make your home even more efficient.
Plumbing consultants are plumbing experts that can guide you into the right direction with your plumbing needs. They can help you with:
- Performing a home energy audit, giving you advice on ways to go green with your plumbing. From water conservation, to energy efficiency, there are many things we can all do to help the environment.
- Redesigning your current living space. Whether you are finishing a basement, redesigning your kitchen, or updating your master bath, a plumbing consultant can offer you suggestions on the best technology and the best resources on the market today.
- Building a new home for a growing family or downsizing for retirement. More people are changing out floor plans for aging in place, and being able to live in your home through all types of unexpected challenges. A plumbing expert can give you suggestions on how to get the most out the space you are planning for.
- Changes inside and out. While most people associate plumbing with inside living space, there are a number of things a plumber can help you with outdoors. If you’re building water features such as ponds and fountains, or looking at an outdoor living space, its important to make sure your plumbing is in top shape. It’s also a good idea in more mature areas to check your water main and sewer lines for backups or potential problems. It’s easier to correct things before you begin building your outside features.
Plumbers are there to answer your questions, and provide you with resources and advice on what’s possible. Make sure your plumber has experience and knowledge in the plumbing industry, and can help you with today’s top technology. You’ll be amazed at what’s possible.
Once again the holidays are upon us. And with the holidays means more time at home, cooking for family and friends, dinner parties and potlucks.
With extra cooking and more time at home means more potential for problems you’re your plumbing.
Here are 7 Plumbing Tips to help you avoid problems this holiday season.
1. With more guests in your home brings more food being cooked and potentially being disposed of. With extra helping of food, throw it directly into the garbage instead of down the garbage disposal. Too much food at one time can clog the disposal and drain pipes, backing up your system at inconvenient times.
2. Use plenty of water when using the garbage disposal. Turn the water on a few seconds before using the disposal, and leave it run a few seconds after its clear to ensure food and waste is through the system.
3. Be especially careful about putting certain types of foods down the garbage disposal. Check out our 10 Worst Things To Put In Garbage Disposal for a great list on what to avoid any time of the year, and especially now with more traffic in your home.
4. With overnight guests in your home, and family members home more due to vacations, turn up your water heater slightly to have more hot water available. To have hot water available instantly any time you choose, you may want to invest in a hot water circulation system.
5. Keep a trashcan in plain site in both the bathrooms and kitchen to avoid flushing small items that can be hazardous for the pipes.
6. Use cold water for washing machines to conserve hot water for showers. Run washers, dishwashers and other appliances early morning or late in the evening to avoid competition for the hot water supply.
7. Keep a plunger ready for backups in the kitchen or bathroom. Don’t wait for complete backups – solve the problem quickly to avoid a bigger problem down the road. Even little clogs can become full blown problems quickly without immediate action. Call your plumber immediately if backups don’t seem to disappear, or if you have reoccurring problems within a short amount of time. It’s easier to fix small problems quickly than to deal with larger problems at inopportune times.