Sustainable Plumbing Strategies to Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly
By Lilly Miller
There’s much more that you can do to make your household more sustainable and environmentally friendly than separating your garbage and turning the lights off when you leave the room. After all, as the most valuable resource on the planet, water is certainly something you should take into account when making your home greener. In fact, there are several changes you can make to your plumbing system in order to reduce your impact on the environment. Here are some ideas on how to achieve that.
Purchase Low-Flow Faucets and Showerheads
The main problem with water usage is finding the most efficient ways not to waste it.
Regular faucets and showerheads tend to enable a higher flow than is truly necessary, which wastes water and increases your monthly bills. By merely replacing your existing faucets with low-flow ones, you can reduce your water usage significantly, without having to do any serious or costly plumbing.
Similarly, buying a new showerhead won’t really set you back financially, but will have a positive effect on both the environment and your budget. Although these faucets and showerheads save water by allowing less water to pass through them, they won’t affect your own comfort.
The water pressure will still be high enough and it’s highly unlikely that you’ll even notice the difference when using them, since they optimize the flow, without decreasing the water pressure.
They’re installed quite easily and you can usually do that without replacing the existing fixtures unless it’s something you want to do.
Research Eco-Friendly Toilets
In the past, not many people paid any attention to how many times a day they flushed their toilet.
However, as the planet seems to be running out of drinking water, people have started reconsidering their choices with regard to toilets and are now on the lookout for new and greener toilet alternatives.
For instance, if you opt for a dual-function toilet, you can actually select the amount of water you’ll use every time you flush your toilet, depending on the requirements at that time. There are also some low-flow toilets on the market, those that use less than a third of the standard amount of water per flush.
Some toilets are even multi-functional, as their tank lid doubles up as a sink. That way, the water you wash your hands or face with ends up in your toilet tank and gets reused for flushing. Finally, some people even decide on composting toilets, although mostly for vacation homes in rural areas.
These don’t require water at all, as they recycle waste by decomposing or evaporating it.
Maintaining your plumbing system regularly is crucial, as that way you’ll avoid leakages and prevent them from becoming an even bigger issue than they are in the beginning.
Some leaks will be obvious, as a faucet drip or a leak from your toilet will be instantly noticeable, but there are some leaks that you won’t spot that quickly. When you notice puddles of water in your bathroom or kitchen, your water meter is showing increased water usage, there’s mold or mildew on your walls, or you notice damp patches on your ceiling, your floor, or your walls, you should get that inspected immediately.
If your pipes are leaking, it could cause serious damage to your home, or even your neighbors’ homes, especially if you live in an apartment building.
Whether your drains are blocked or your pipes are cracked or broken, it’s best to rely on the effective pipe relining technology, being that it doesn’t require digging. When your pipe cracks underneath your driveway, not having to ruin it will mean a lot, as will not have to remove a tree from your garden, which makes this type of repair eco-friendly.
Regardless of how big or small the section of the sewer line or drain needs to be fixed, pipe relining will do the trick, without you going through the trouble of replacing your pipes.
Insulate Your Pipes
Each part of your home plumbing system has its lifespan and this is something you should be aware of, so that you can do your best to prolong it.
This is where pipe insulation comes in. If you live in an area where winters are harsh, it’s probably not uncommon for water-supply pipes to freeze and burst, particularly those that are exposed to unheated parts of your home or exterior walls. A good way to solve this issue is to insulate those pipes properly.
Aside from that, you could also lower your energy waste and save money on electric bills if you limit or even fully prevent heat loss from the hot-water pipes in your home by insulating them.
Plus, when the water in those pipes cools down, you’ll leave your tap running for a while before the hot water reaches it, which is completely unnecessary.
Last, but not least, when the temperatures are high, cold-water pipes often sweat, as water is condensed on them. This can cause your indoor humidity levels to rise and mold to appear, all of which can be avoided or at least controlled if you insulate those pipes.
Upgrade Your Appliances
If you have a designated budget for making your plumbing eco-friendlier and more sustainable, it’s an amazing opportunity to invest in some new appliances for your home.
One option is a greener version of a toilet, which has already been mentioned, but that’s merely the beginning. Some of the more recent dishwashers and washing machines save water, energy, and even space inside your home. They are more compact while utilizing about half of the water and energy that some of the outdated ones did.
Newer washing machines even need less detergent to wash the same amount of clothes. As far as dishwashers go, the modern, high-efficiency ones use about three times less water than the average ones. In the meantime, hand washing your dishes would require six times more water than these state-of-the-art appliances. Some of these dishwashers have shorter rinse programs or have none at all, which means that they save even more water, energy, and time.
Finally, if you install a continuous flow or a solar-powered hot-water system, you’ll reduce your water and power usage considerably. This may seem like a big investment, but it’s one that will pay itself back through lowered bills and a healthier environment.
Find Alternate Water Sources
As important as it is that you use only clean water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene, it’s still possible to make plumbing in your home more sustainable if you turn to some less conventional water sources for your toilet and irrigation.
For instance, you can harvest rainwater from your driveway or your roof, store it and use it for flushing your toilet or in your garden, whether for maintaining its cleanliness or watering your lawn. You can even use this water to wash your car. You should also know that there are some advanced systems for water filtering and purification, which would make it possible for you to use rainwater as drinking water. Another option is recycling your greywater. If you’re not familiar with the concept, this means recycling the water that comes from your baths, basins, washing machines, etc.
Buying and installing a greywater system would enable you to use this water to flush your toilet or irrigate your garden. These systems work well, but make sure you hire a professional plumber to do any work that involves them so that everything is connected properly and in accordance with all of the laws and local regulations.
Final Thoughts on Sustainable Plumbing
As time goes by, the list of green plumbing choices continues to grow, making those alternatives more accessible to people around the world. If you have the environment and your own budget in mind, go through these suggestions and opt for those that suit you and your situation best.
About the Author
Lilly Miller is a freelance writer, who focuses on interior design, well-being and sustainable living. She loves to experiment on daring new home decor trends and write about it as a regular contributor to Smooth Decorator. Settled in Sydney for the time being, Lilly shares home with two loving dogs and a gecko named Rodney. You can find her hanging out on Twitter.