In the past, plumbing options have always been fairly limited. Depending on your budget, you were able to upgrade faucet handles or the shower head but everything else, from water heaters to toilets were pretty standard. Now with a worldwide push toward living an environmentally friendly lifestyle, plumbing manufacturers have developed products that lower water consumption and reduce energy costs. These green options mean you have more plumbing choices than ever before.
The two main components of a residential plumbing system are water and energy, with a home's hot water heater being the major consumer of both. In fact, the US Department of Energy has determined your water heater accounts for more than 15 percent of a home's energy cost. Today's new energy efficient tankless water heaters or a solar water heater can easily reduce your energy bill by up to 50 percent for a tankless unit and up to 90 percent for a solar model. Always make sure your hot water heater is set no higher than 120 degrees and insulate the hot water lines for maximum efficiency.
Low Flow and Dual Flow Toilets
Additional studies have shown the average person uses approximately 100 gallons of water daily with 30 gallons wasted. To combat this, in 1992 the federal government mandated all new toilets be designed to use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush as compared to old toilets that used on average 3.5 gallons per flush.
While more expensive than a low-flow toilet, dual flush toilets are gaining in popularity. Offering two flushing options, a dual flush toilet comes with two buttons. One is for flushing liquids while the other provides more water and is used for flushing solid matter.
Pipes and Fixtures
If remodeling or building new construction, consider the advantages of using PEX pipe over traditional copper pipe. PEX pipe is less expensive, easier to install and reduces leak potential.
Talk to your plumber (to contact a local plumber, here is a link to try this out) about installing flow restricting aerators on older plumbing fixtures or switch them out for high-efficiency low-flow models. Not only do they reduce water consumption, but they can also lower energy costs by reducing the amount of hot water used. Unlike many of the original models, today's newer faucets and showerheads restrict only the amount of water, not the water pressure itself. A note of caution, steer clear of those popular oversized sunflower showerheads. While they are stylish, they can easily waste gallons of water in just one shower.