How to Reduce Water Use With Efficient Plumbing

Most people never stop to think about the amount of water they use each day. We fail to give water the value and respect it deserves because it is easy for us to access � simply turn on a tap and you have instant water. From brushing our teeth, to showing off water features in the garden, we take this life-giving resource for granted. The truth of how much we waste may surprise you.

Experts measure water usage around the world in cubic meters. America's current water footprint falls at somewhere around 1,053 billion cubic meters of water � meaning that we use more water per person than any other person on the planet. Today, we use 127% more water than in 1950, and we are struggling to find sustainable ways of lowering water usage. With widespread drought conditions impacting much of the country, water use has already become a hot topic of discussion. As an individual, you may be looking for ways to reduce water use in your home; the solution may be to make use of efficient plumbing practices, and innovative plumbing solutions to reduce how much water you are using every day.

Low-flow plumbing fixtures and other modern upgrades could provide one-time sustainable measures that we can implement in homes throughout the country for little cost. Following are just some steps you can use to reduce water use with efficient plumbing.

Step 1: Seek Out and Repair Leaks
This may seem like an obvious step in reducing water waste, however leaks are overlooked. The truth is that 60% of all the water we waste on an annual basis is lost due to leaky pipes. In other words, the average household contributes about 10,000 gallons per year of wasted water through leaky pipes � enough for 270 laundry loads. Even the smallest drip can be enough to waste twenty gallons of water each day � raising your utility bills and expanding the water footprint of the country.

By contacting a professional plumber to conduct a thorough plumbing inspection throughout your home, it is possible to save as much as 10% on your water bills. Common leaks found in most homes include dripping faucets, loose valves, and worn toilet flappers � all easily correctable matters. What's more, remember that some pipes can drip without a homeowner's knowledge � leading to expensive structural damage.

Step 2: Make Your Toilet More Efficient
According to the EPA, the biggest water drain in any residential home is the toilet � accounting for 27% of water usage. When examining your toilet for plumbing efficiency, the first thing to look for is leaks � as these are often silent, allowing water waste to go unnoticed for extended periods of time. A leaking toilet wastes anywhere up to 200 gallons of water each day.

Another option is to contact a plumber and ask to install a high-efficiency toilet, or HET to be installed within your home. You may not know it, but over 40% of Americans still use older models that use 3.5 gallons of water per flush. Newer models use less than 1.3 gallons per flush through highly efficient methods like "class 6" technology. Your new toilet should possess the "water sense" label given by the environmental protection agency � which shows testing for maximum power, alongside the capacity to save thousands of gallons of water a year compared to traditional toilets.

Step 3: Maximize Your Home Faucets
A standard sink bathroom faucet runs at approximately 2 gallons a minute - making up 15.7% of residential water usage. To maximize your home faucets, start by checking for drips or leaks � both at the faucet head, and the connections and base. After this, examine the amount of water that is flowing from each faucet by filling a container for 10 seconds and multiplying the level of water by 6 for a per-minute reading. If you're not sure whether your flow level is correct, or feel that you are not getting enough water for your needs, you may need to contact a plumber.

Another great solution is to have water-saving faucets installed, as these can reduce the amount of gallons faucets use per minute from 2.2 gpm to 1.5 gpm. What's more, these redesigned faucets help to save up to 30% of your water, without sacrificing the pressure required for personal hygiene needs. 

Step 4: Reduce Energy and Water Use with Showers
Replacing a single showerhead with an efficient model is enough to save a family home up to 2,900 gallons of water, as well as the amount of electricity needed to power the entire home for 13 days. Showers use about 2.5 gallons of water each minute, and account for 16.8% of our complete water usage. On the other hand, performance shower heads use approximately 1.75 gallons per minute � offering a saving of around 30%. The optimized design on these new models ensures that you barely notice that you're saving water in the first place.

Step 5: Recycle Hot Water and Reduce Pressure
Finally, you could consider speaking to your plumber about installing a re-circulating hot water system. These kits work alongside your current hot water tank to help transport hot water efficiently and quickly into faucets and showers. Rates of water waste falls as you don't have to run a tap for several minutes waiting for the temperature to warm up, and you may find that your morning routine becomes more efficient at the same time.

You could also consider installing a pressure reducing valve on your primary water line, as many homes are working with water pressure over 70psi when all they need is a range of 35psi. Have your plumber check your water pressure and discuss whether a pressure reducing valve could save your pipes, and your water usage.

Saving Water Benefits Everyone
We use water in so many different ways - from keeping our lawns luscious and green, to filling up swimming pools and failing to fix leaky pipes. According to water managers in 40 of 50 states, most locations throughout America will experience some form of water shortage during the next ten years. To help save water in response to current and projected shortages, most experts suggest the purchase and installation of high-efficiency plumbing solutions

Step one to reducing water use is understanding just how much water you waste every day, and step two is deciding upon measures that you can use to reduce that waste. Aside from the solutions mentioned above, simple behaviors such as washing dishes in a bowl rather than with an open tap, or investing in a high-efficiency washing machine can all help our approach to water in both the present, and the future.

Author Bio: Don Teemsma, President/CEO of Ideal Plumbing, Heating, Air &Electrical brings decades of experience and expertise in the plumbing, HVAC, electrical and remodel industries. His second-generation family owned and operated business located in San Diego, CA serves residential and commercial customers. In his spare time, Don volunteers through various organizations, including the San Diego Fire Rescue Foundation, San Diego Rotary Club 33, and Mt. Helix Park Foundation. Most of all, he enjoys spending time with his family.

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