A plumbing system is an essential part of any household. But it uses energy, and some systems use more than others. An energy-efficient plumbing system translates to lower bills. With water bill rates based on 1,000-gallon units or per thousand gallons, it is important to find ways of conserving water and power. Fortunately, there are several ways to do so. Here is more information on five examples of energy-efficient plumbing systems that exist.
1. Foam Pipe Insulation
It’s not the first thing that comes to mind, but even the material you use for your pipes may be inefficient for your needs energy-wise and cost you a higher water bill. If you have an issue with hard water, the mineral buildup in copper pipes can promote clogs and water waste. On the other hand, the cement that bonds the joints in PVC pipes can eventually break down and leak.
Foam fitted to the pipes and foam tape is great for saving on your energy and water bills by way of providing insulation. Insulated pipes heat loss and allow you to lower your water temperature by raising it 2°F–4°F hotter than uninsulated pipes. Plus, you won’t have to wait for the water to heat up, saving even more water and ending the cold bursts you experience while first turning on the shower.
You will also save on water and energy for washing dishes or clothes in hot water. Some people try to conserve water by turning off the faucet for washing dishes and turning it back on only for rinsing, while they prefer to wash clothes in warm rather than hot water. Not only is there no need to do with insulated pipes along with the other energy-efficient plumbing systems, but repeatedly turning the faucet on and off causes more water to flow than is necessary.
Insulating your pipes only takes the purchasing of foam insulation, cutting it into lengths, and fitting them to the pipes, while foam tape can be used for small pipes, valves, and fittings. While it can be your next DIY project if you so choose, it’s best to call a professional to do it right.
2. Dual-Flush Toilets
According to the federal standard, traditional toilets use 1.6 gallons of water per flush. More modern toilets use about 1.3 gallons or less per flush. While that may not seem like a lot, it can quickly add up on your water bill, especially if there are multiple people in your household or your family uses the toilet often.
Low-flow or high-efficiency toilets are 20% more energy-efficient than traditional toilets and perform just as well. A dual-flush conversion kit is an inexpensive way to upgrade yours, which gives you the option of heavy or light flushes. However, you should consider the quality of the materials and design for your conversion kit, which if poor or misused, can cause water to continuously flow into the bowl. Gravity-assisted and vacuum-assisted toilets are other possible options if you’re wanting to replace your toilets completely.
3. Tankless Water Heater
The energy your plumbing system uses depends on how much you use each fixture and if it uses not only water but electricity. A hot water heater typically runs for three to five hours a day. Assuming you have a 400-watt water heater that runs for three hours a day at 10 cents per kWh, it will end up costing $1.20 per day. That translates to about $36.50 per month or $438 per year. It’s easy to assume energy overuse is because of taking too-long hot showers, which is about water. But hot showers also use a lot of energy to heat the water and maintain temperature, whether you have a gas or electric boiler. And washing machines need to heat up the hot water before it even flows into the laundry.
A tankless water heater, also called an on-demand water heater, has several benefits over the traditional one. It is smaller and lasts 5-10 years longer, needing maintenance perhaps every 4-5 years, whereas a traditional water heater needs maintenance every six months to once a year. It also uses less gas since it doesn’t continuously heat water, and it offers unlimited hot water since there’s no tank with a finite amount of water in storage.
A solar water heater is an alternative option. Not only does it protect air and water quality, but the return on investment comes in the form of free energy. It’s highly efficient, takes up less space, and costs less than solar PV panels.
Washing machines have an even larger difference in the amount of water used depending on whether they’re older or high-efficiency. Traditional ones use anywhere between 29 to 49 gallons of water per load, while modern ones use 15 to 30 gallons of water. A tankless water heater can help with the hot water usage from your washing machine as well, whether you have a traditional or high-efficiency one.
4. Low-Flow Shower Heads
Many people enjoy hot showers and baths. Those who prefer showers over baths experience either one of two issues with an inefficient shower head: Not enough water pressure, or not enough hot water. Sometimes, they may experience both. Water pressure is important for cleaning and rinsing, and running out of hot water means experiencing an unpleasant, freezing cold burst.
Enter low-flow shower heads, nifty devices that maintain water pressure while reducing water flow. That’s because they either mix in air (aerating) or pulses (non-aerating) to maintain the water pressure as well as the temperature. Some low-flow shower heads have special features, such as a rainfall effect.
5. Low-Flow Faucet Aerators
Sinks can be divided into inefficient, standard, and efficient. Inefficient sinks use 5 gallons of water per minute and 40 gallons per day. Some things that can make sinks inefficient are low water pressure from a clogged aerator or debris buildup from the minerals in hard water. While a simple cleaning can eliminate the low water pressure, it doesn’t make the now-standard sink any more efficient in water usage.
Standard sinks use about 2.2 gallons of water per minute and 17.6 gallons of water per day. Compare to efficient sinks, which use only 1 gallon of water per minute and 8 gallons per day. That’s a huge difference. Considering the most important thing in using water from a faucet or shower is water pressure, there’s an awful lot of unused water going to waste down the drain, causing your water bill to be much higher than it could be.
Fortunately, you can easily screw a low-flow faucet aerator onto your existing faucet. Easy to install and inexpensive, it can help you save up to 50% off your utility bills.
Call the Plumbing Professionals
Sunrise Plumbing & Air has the expertise to evaluate your plumbing system and review your possible options for greater energy efficiency. We think your plumbing is the most important part of your home, and we treat it that way. Contact us today to repair, replace, install, or maintain any plumbing fixtures in Rockwall and surrounding areas with top-rated service, integrity, thoroughness, and a 100% satisfaction guarantee.