Nobody likes paying water bills. There are a number of measures you can take to increase savings through water conservation, but the real prize would be to do away with the bills entirely. That doesn't mean you have to give up your indoor toilet or other household plumbing – there is a standard called “net zero water” with a goal of allowing homes to free themselves from the water main grid. Read on to learn more about this optimistic idea and what steps you can take to bring yourself closer to a future untethered by utility bills.

Close the Loop

If saving money isn't enough to convince you to conserve water now, consider that you may not have a choice in the near future. Droughts in California and other areas of the country mean that local water restrictions are in full force, and the cost of fresh water could ultimately rise precipitously.

The keys to cutting back are to collect what you can from nature and then reuse or recycle the water once it enters your household. Plumbing can be configured specifically to route waste water to different areas, depending on whether it came from the sink, shower, toilet or other source.

“By capturing precipitation and treating wastewater produced on site, occupants of a household will close the loop of their water system, thus leading to water independence,” the Net Zero Water Project proclaims.

The Future of Waste Conservation is Here

The net zero water scenario isn't as far-fetched as it sounds. The Seattle headquarters of the Bullitt Foundation, for example, is already 83 percent more efficient than most office buildings and is on its way to closing the loop. The biggest hurdle is clearing regulatory burdens regarding waste water treatment and potable water sourcing, according to Ecobuilding Pulse.

Further research is being pursued at the ReNEWW House, a research lab run by Purdue University and Whirlpool to experiment with closed-loop water, waste and energy systems and to produce a prototype that can be replicated by homebuilders.

“It's time to look at how we can leverage our appliances to optimize and transform the total home system to try to achieve net-zero water impact," Ron Voglewede, Global Sustainability Director, Whirlpool Corporation, said in a press release.

For more ideas, the International Living Future Institute produces a best practices manual for net zero water attainment, including detailed plans that individual homeowners can use to advance toward the goal.

Ideas You Can Implement Today

You may not be ready to meet the net zero water standard just yet, but you can take concrete steps today that limit your consumption and put you on the path to lower water bills. If you want to save money on your household plumbing usage, try:

  • Xeriscaping your yard with local plants to reduce or eliminate irrigation costs.
  • Capturing rainwater by placing barrels in the downspouts of your gutters, then reusing it for irrigation or certain household functions.
  • Replacing your old plumbing fixtures with new, water-efficient models certified by the federal Water Sense program.
  • If you are truly ambitious, look into a home water recycling system which reuses some of the greywater from your household plumbing to fill the toilet tank and for irrigation.

For more ideas on saving water or help implementing conservation strategies, contact a local plumber today. Your local Benjamin Franklin® is available to advise and assist you 24/7.

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