Being a homeowner means your home is never really “finished”. Fixtures, appliances and other components are always aging, breaking down or falling out of fashion -- upgrades just come with the territory. And when those upgrades involve your plumbing, the choices you make can have a big impact on how much water you use.
While low-flow fixtures were once the butt of jokes about dribbling showers, design and technology breakthroughs have made them easy to love. Likewise, washing machines and dishwashers are now designed to do more with less -- water, that is.
If it’s time for you to make a few changes around the house, be sure to consider the following product categories:
Showering accounts for nearly 17 percent of residential water use on average, according to WaterSense, a program in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Most ordinary shower heads use about 2.5 gallons of water per minute, but models that have been certified by WaterSense use a maximum of 2.0 gallons per minute.
That may not seem like a big difference, but it adds up over time -- the average family can save 2,900 gallons per year by making the switch, and that’s not to mention the savings that comes from your water heater not having to work as hard.
Toilets are major water users in most homes. WaterSense reports toilets as being responsible for nearly 30 percent of residential water use, in spite of tightening federal regulations on toilet water efficiency. The current federal standard is 1.6 gallons per flush, though toilets that are just a couple of decades old may use more than 6 gallons per flush.
By choosing water-efficient toilets that use 1.28 gallons or less per flush, the average family could reduce their household water consumption by as much as 60 percent. WaterSense estimates that savings at this rate could save a household $2,200 over the lifetime of a toilet, suggesting that water-efficient toilets are sound investments.
Sink faucets can help save water through the use of aerators, small devices that inject air bubbles into the stream to displace water without affecting rinsing ability. The most water efficient faucets use around 1.5 gallons per minute, compared to around 2.2 gallons per minute with the average new faucet.
If you don’t want to replace a faucet entirely, you can find aftermarket aerators that you may be able to attach to your existing fixtures. By switching to aerators, WaterSense estimates annual water savings of about 700 gallons for the average household.
In the early days, a washing machine could use more than 40 gallons just to wash a single large load! Fortunately, today’s most water efficient models use about 13 gallons per load, nearly 10 gallons less than the average new washer. Wash cycles take a little longer with these efficient machines, but the end results are just as good as with those machines that use more water.
Using your dishwasher rather than hand-washing dishes is a good way to save water by itself, but to get the most out of every drop, it’s worth switching to a water-efficient model. Older dishwashers use as much as 10 gallons per cycle, compared to about six gallons with new models and four gallons with the most efficient models. Choosing a water-smart dishwasher could save 3870 gallons over the life of the appliance.
If you’re looking for more ways to save water or would like any of these upgrades professionally installed, reach out to your licensed local plumbers!