The average American household uses about 260 gallons of water each day, adding up to 30 billion gallons of daily water usage across the nation. There are multiple ways to conserve water in your home, from replacing a constantly running toilet to installing a weather-sensitive sprinkler system. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), water heating accounts for around 15 to 25 percent of the energy used in the average home. Water-saving plumbing updates to your home not only help lower your water bill but can reduce your monthly energy bills as well.
Following are five of the most cost-effective plumbing upgrades:
1. Low-Flow Shower Heads
When the EPA first mandated requirements for water-saving shower heads, consumers complained about poor performance. Over the last decade, advancements in technology within the plumbing industry have resulted in shower heads that deliver twice the power of conventional models while using half the water. Low-flow shower heads can reduce your hot water usage by up to 50 percent without sacrificing a pleasurable shower experience.
2. Low-Flow Toilets
The first water-saving toilets appeared in the market as a response to federal water conservation restrictions put into place in 1994. Critics were quick to point out that the new products often required two flushes, defeating water-saving goals. Since then, manufacturers have responded with a variety of innovative alterations that meet conservation goals yet get the job done. Some models feature modified passageways and canister flush valves that let the water move more vigorously. Dual-flush models have two settings, allowing for a stronger flush whenever needed.
3. Faucets and Aerators
Today’s new faucet aerators are far more effective than their early counterparts. Federal recommendations are for faucets to operate at 2.2 gallons per minute. Some aerator models have reduced water flow to 1.7 gallons per minute while maintaining a strong and effective pressure. Simply replacing an old and outdated faucet with an ultra-efficient model can conserve up to 8,000 gallons of water per year. A broad array of stylish water-saving faucets are available as well.
4. Tankless Water Heaters
Conventional water heaters waste energy by keeping water hot 24 hours a day whether it’s needed or not. Tankless water heaters virtually eliminate that waste by heating water on demand. The moment you turn on a hot water tap, a signal is sent to the system, and high-powered burners heat the water flowing through the device. Because the unit continues to heat the water as long as the tap is open, you never have to worry about running out of hot water in the middle of a shower. Tankless systems can cut your water heating costs by up to 40 percent.
5. Solar Water Heaters
Solar water heaters are another innovative alternative to traditional tanks. The technology uses specialized solar panels known as collectors installed on your roof. The sun’s energy heats liquid that is encased in loops of tubing. Operating by gravity or with a pump, the heated liquid is then piped to a hot water tank in your home. These long-lasting devices offer up to 20 years or more of service. Although solar water heaters are more expensive than conventional systems, government incentive programs are available that greatly reduce upfront costs.
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About the Writer
Rachel is a blogger for Aramendia Plumbing, Heating & Air, a plumbing company in Dallas, TX, that specializes in plumbing maintenance and repair to improve the quality and energy efficiency of residential homes’ plumbing system.