New Perspectives: Shape up your house with high-efficiency plumbing fixtures


We’ve all probably had that bill that made us really take a step back and examine where our money is really going. Unfortunately, I’ve had that happen, and it was on a water bill! Turns out that for a while, I had been feeling the effects of lagging plumbing fixtures. In addition, water conservation is an increasing global concern, so I wanted to do my part to remedy this problem.

Here are some quick replacements that will help conserve both water and money:

TOILETS
It makes sense that the toilet is the most popular choice among consumers when it comes to going green. In fact, most of the time, the other fixtures in this article are favored in the other direction, with low-efficiency setting and builds. Toilets often flush up to six gallons of water per use, which can account for up to 30 percent of a home’s total water usage. Here are some options to lower that number.

Dual Flush Toilets:  This kind of toilet allows you to choose between flushing for liquid or solid waste.

Composting Toilets: This is exactly like an outhouse, except it is sanitary and comes without the smell. These toilets store waste for one year to allow it to decompose naturally. The smell is eradicated with a
special mixture, and VOILA! No water in your toilet.

High-efficiency Toilets: Even the EPA is getting in on this action, releasing their own WaterSense labeled toilets. It’s said that these toilets save people around 4,000 gallons of water each year.


SHOWERHEADS
Toilets are water hogs, but so are showers. These account for about 20 percent of a home’s total water usage, and that probably doesn’t include those people that take hour-long showers…Typical showers use about 2.5 gallons of water per minute, but bigger showerheads can use up to 20 gallons of water per minute. I shudder when I see these types of stats. Ultra-low-flow showerheads reduce the shower’s water output by about 70 percent, which means less strain on your overall plumbing system.


FAUCETS
Faucets are routinely left on to run at-will. Just like with anything else on this list, this puts a toll on the water heater. If you can’t break your habit of leaving the faucet on, check out high-efficiency faucets. They use 1.5 gallons of water per minute. Not bad at all. It’s a small change, but it adds up in the long run. Now imagine with me for a moment – every person in America (just America) made the switch to these types of fixtures, the country would save three trillion gallons of water per year and around $1 billion per year. If one out of every 100 homes made the switch, 80,000 tons of greenhouse gases would  be eliminated!


Author: Diane Kuehl is a home improvement professional and owner of DIY Mother. She lives in Springfield, Illinois with her husband and two kids.