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Water conservation is an issue of greater and greater importance. Water is absolutely essential. It is necessary for irrigation, personal hydration, sanitation, and industrial use. Less than one percent of the water present on the earth’s surface is drinkable. This drinkable freshwater is found in lakes, rivers, reservoirs, and aquifers. Approximately one-third of the world’s human population struggles with water shortages. The average American uses more than double the amount of water each day than most Danish, Austrian, or French citizens. Plumbers can speak into this even more.
In a natural setting with little human activity, 10% of precipitation becomes runoff, 50% is absorbed into the earth, and 40% evaporates. In an urban setting, such as Arlington, TX, 55% of all precipitation becomes run-off and only 15% is absorbed. This is bad news for reservoirs and aquifers and makes water conservation even more important.
Remodeling or renovations in your kitchen and bathroom are a good opportunity to improve water efficiency. A plumber can help you choose water-efficient appliances and fixtures that work with your overall renovation goals. There are also plenty of ways to improve efficiency even without large-scale remodeling projects.
Regular Plumbing Maintenance
Maintaining the plumbing in your home or business is one of the best ways to conserve water. Poorly maintained plumbing infrastructure wastes energy and water. Consult your local plumber to keep up on regular repairs and locate small problems before they become big problems. Leaks may not seem like a big deal in the bigger picture of water conservation, but small leaks add up to a lot of water.
One drip per second becomes nearly 5 gallons each day. That becomes almost two thousand gallons of wasted water by the end of the year. EPA statistics suggest that up to 10% of all American homes contain leaks responsible for at least 90 gallons of wasted water each day. Call a plumber as soon as you notice a leak.
Faucet leaks can also be caused by worn-down cartridges inside the faucet. A plumber can fix this fairly quickly. This may seem like an easy fix, but mistakes can lead to much costlier plumbing repairs. Excessively high water pressure is also a common culprit for leaks. Pressure can stop water from flowing in a certain direction, which causes backups and leaks in other faucets or pipe fixtures.
Other common causes of leaks include cracked or broken fittings, worn-out inlet or outlet seals and washers, or problems with o rings.
One of the biggest indicators of a hidden leak is a surprise increase on the water bill. If you can’t figure out where a leak is coming from, the problem may be a series of minor leaks throughout your plumbing, especially if you live in an older home or the plumbing hasn’t been inspected for a while. Older pipes installed before 1970 could be made of iron, lead, steel, or old, brittle plastics.
A damaged water line can lose water even faster than leaky pipes. Other problems, such as low water pressure or contaminated water, may occur as well. Call a plumber if you suspect a damaged water line. It is not a good idea to fix it yourself because you could end up with even more problems and potentially extensive water damage.
Water-Efficient Fixtures and Appliances
Plumbers play a key role in water conservation on a commercial and residential level. Water-efficient plumbing fixtures are an important part of residential water conservation. Replacing old toilet models with water-efficient models can save up to 360 billion gallons of water each year in the United States.
An ‘old’ toilet in this sense is defined as a model constructed before the Energy Policy Act in 1994. Older toilets use from 3 to 6 gallons for each flush, while low flow models use approximately 1.28 gallons during each flush. Many consumers are concerned about the performance of water-efficient toilets, but most models have received satisfactory consumer satisfaction ratings in terms of flushing and cleanliness.
An energy policy act in 1992 required ll new homes and renovations to install low-flow toilet systems. This act went into effect in 1994, but plenty of older toilets are still in place in homes across America. Dual-flush toilets, which are already very common in Europe and Australia, have a lower flush option for liquid waste and a higher flush option for solid waste. Your plumber can tell you available low-flow toilets and help you choose an appropriate model.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, finds that household faucets are responsible for approximately 15% of indoor residential water use. Water-efficient faucets installed by a professional plumber can reduce water use by up to 20% and save up to 700 gallons of water each year.
Your plumber may be able to modify an existing faucet with an aerator to improve water efficiency as well. An aerator is a small device attached to the bottom of the faucet. It contains a screen that covers the end of the faucet and adds air to the water stream by disrupting the flow and breaking the water apart. This technique saves a lot of water, but the flow is still sufficient for washing and most other purposes. High-efficiency aerators can reduce water flow by approximately 1.5 gallons per minute, and the EPA categorizes aerators as one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce wasted water.
Install a water-efficient showerhead for greatly reduced water usage in your household. Showerheads account for another 17% of the water used in most homes. Replacing an old showerhead with a water-efficient fixture can reduce water use and save money. Consult a plumber to install a shower valve sized to fit the corresponding showerhead.
The EPA estimates that the average family could reduce water usage by up to 2,900 gallons of water per year. The average showerhead has a flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute, while a low flow showerhead has a flow rate of 1.5 gallons per minute. A good low-flow showerhead offers very similar pressure and comfort levels, it simply uses less water. Reducing water pressure is another easy way to conserve water during showers, and rinsing your shower head in vinegar can remove potential hard water deposits and let water flow efficiently with less pressure.
Water Usage Habits
Changing household habits can also conserve water in your Arlington, TX home. Pay attention to running water when your washing dishes or preparing food. Fill a pot with water to clean vegetables or other foods instead of washing them under a running faucet. Try using a basin of soapy water and a basin of clear water while cleaning up dishes. This uses much less water than letting the faucet run and rinsing dishes continuously. Soapy water can’t be used to water plants, but the water used to wash products can be reused to water plants or a garden.
You may not think of soaking pots and pans as water-saving techniques, but you may use more water than you realize attempting to remove baked-on food. Let soiled pots and pans soak for a few hours to soften debris. This greatly reduces the time spent scrubbing, especially if anyone in the house lets water from the faucet run while cleaning stubborn food debris.
Another appliance that uses a great deal of water is the dishwasher. Wait until it’s full before cleaning the dishes. Running dishwashers only when they have full loads can up to 1,000 gallons of water each month. New dishwashers are made to clean dishes thoroughly. It isn’t always necessary to rinse dishes before loading.
Sometimes people rinse dishes so thoroughly that it’s almost as if they’re washing the dishes before letting the dishwasher have a turn. This is extremely wasteful and uses a lot of water because you’re essentially washing each dish twice. If an older dishwasher isn’t capable of cleaning the dishes unless the items are spotless beforehand, you may want to consider getting rid of the appliance or replacing it with a newer model. Call a plumber to ask about installing a new energy-efficient dishwasher.
You can also save water by keeping garbage disposals clean and in good repair. A solution of bleach and hot water is a good way to clean the appliance without overly harsh chemicals. Baking soda reduces odors. Remember not to empty kitchen grease or cooking oil into your disposal. Grease and fat solidify as it cools and sticks to blades and pipes. Sticky residue forces every part of your garbage disposal to work harder and leads to more frequent repairs. You can also save gallons of water by only using the garbage disposal when necessary. If you start a compost pile for food scraps, you may have very little reason to use your disposal.
Hot Water Heaters
Another excellent way to conserve water is by keeping your water heater in good condition. It should be tested and flushed regularly. Autumn is a good time of year for water heater maintenance in Arlington, TX, because a drop in temperatures usually corresponds to an increase in hot water usage. If your household has a traditional water heater, wait at least 10 minutes between showers. This conserves hot water and lowers the risk of lukewarm or cold water halfway through a shower.
Changing the design and location of water heaters, heat pumps, and boilers can have a significant impact on water usage. Letting the water run while waiting for it to reach appropriate temperatures is very wasteful. Simply shortening the distance hot water must travel can help. Hot water takes longer to arrive when the heat source is located far from the outlet. Projects involving significant changes to your hot water system are jobs for professional plumbers.
Ask your plumber about a recirculating pump that transports water to an outlet while simultaneously transporting cold water back towards the heat source. Water isn’t wasted because hot water is systematically pumped to the fixture before it’s needed. These pumps are often activated with switches or sensors.
Water-efficient shower systems take several factors into accounts, such as energy to heat and transport water, showerhead design, and the smallest possible length of pipe from the hot water source to the fixture outlet. All hot water pipes should be insulated to minimize heat loss during delivery. Consult your local plumber to find out if your hot water system can be fitted with a demand-driven recirculation system.
On-Demand Hot Water Heaters
On-demand water heaters, sometimes called tankless water heaters, provide hot water when it’s needed. Since they don’t store warm water, they don’t waste energy keeping water hot when it isn’t being used. Cold water runs into a tankless heater powered by gas or electricity. Some homes may need more than one tankless hot water heater because a single heater can’t provide enough hot water for multiple activities at once, such as showering and running a dishwasher simultaneously.
Even with multiple on-demand heaters, homes may see up to 35% savings on energy bills after switching from a traditional water heater. It’s best to call a professional plumber to install tankless heaters because it also involves new gas pipes, altered ventilation systems, and new wiring.
Water Reuse Systems
Water reuse systems, also known as greywater reuse systems, make use of the runoff from showers, washing machines, and sinks. Laws and ordinances governing greywater use vary, but your local plumber in Arlington, TX, will know what systems are allowed and appropriate in your area. Rain harvesting is a simple type of water reuse system. Rainwater collected in barrels can be used for watering gardens or lawns and other outdoor uses.
Call the professional plumbers at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing of Fort Worth for help with all of your home’s plumbing needs. They can also offer advice on upgrading appliances and plumbing infrastructure in your home in Arlington, TX, to improve your household’s water efficiency and reduce monthly water and energy bills.