So, as a plumber in the industry, for what feels like a million years, many people ask me how they can make their plumbing more efficient. This is a question that I could spend a lot of time on. First and foremost, the absolute best way to reduce your water consumption is by taking a look at the water hogs in your house. No, I am not referring to the people in your home who take hour long showers (even though they, too, are water hogs). What I would first look for is hidden leaks. Below I have provided a video that explains it better than I ever could:
Taking care of these hidden leaks will make a major difference on your water bill. In my experience, many homeowners have no idea that they have a leak in their plumbing until we come and service their home for some other plumbing problem that they are experiencing and we happen to come across the water hog culprit. Typically the leak is in their toilet or in one of their pipes. A great way to bypass these types of issues is to check your water meter. Even better, have your plumbing system tuned up frequently.
One of the biggest energy hogs in your house is (drum roll please) the water heater. Although most homeowners don't even think about it, it takes a lot of energy to keep that tank heated to the temperature that you set it at. The majority of homes spend about 18% of energy on their water heater. In the following article by Energy.gov, they offer us some pointers on what you can do to reduce your water heater energy usage:
- Take short showers instead of baths.
- Lower the temperature on your water heater to 120°F; for every 10ºF reduction in temperature, you can save from 3%–5% on your water heating costs.
- Don't let the water run. Are you guilty of leaving the water on while you brush your teeth?
- Use cold water for most laundry loads
- Use your dishwasher efficiently. Wash only full loads, choose shorter wash cycles, and activate the booster heater if your dishwasher has one.
- Install low-flow fixtures. Federal regulations require new showerheads and faucets to have low flow rates. Showerheads and faucets that pre-date 1992 can use more than twice as much water as new ones.
- Install heat traps on your water heater tank. You could save $15–$30 on your water heating bill.
- Insulate your hot-water storage tank. For electric tanks, be careful not to cover the thermostat, and for natural gas or oil hot water storage tanks, be careful not to cover the water heater's top, bottom, thermostat, or burner compartment.
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Just by doing a few of the above tips, you will significantly reduce your energy usage in your house. Your bank account will thank you.