days, everyone is concerned about “going green”. People everywhere recycle
products at home and work, like paper, plastic and aluminum, as well as
turning off unused lights and appliances and making a conscious effort to
Many people don’t realize, however, that by making a
few adjustments to their bathroom fixtures they can reduce the strain on
their pipes and plumbing systems of their home and have a positive impact on
the environment. In today’s ever-changing environment, plumbing mechanics are
trained to offer green repair and installation options for home owners to help
guarantee strong natural resources for the future.
Why Hire a Green
Contracting with a "green" plumbing company
helps both your property and the economy, and gives you peace of mind that
you’re doing your part to reduce your carbon footprint. Water conserving
fixtures, along with repairs to plumbing problems in your home, can increase
your home’s value over time, and help you save money on energy and water
The next time you're in need of plumbing repairs
around the house, call KS Persyn, a company that applies eco-friendly
techniques. The work you do now may alleviate problems in the future.
What a Green
Plumber Can Do for You
In addition to
saving you money, here are a few things that can make your home more
• Water-efficient commodes —
Less flushing means less water wasted and running through the tank.
• Solar hot water system — Nothing
is hotter than the sun, so rather than waste money and energy on heating your
water, install a solar powered system.
• Environmentally friendly tank
and drain maintenance — When pouring chemicals down the toilet
or sink, you could be releasing dangerous toxins that eventually wind up in
the soil around your house. This could be especially harmful if you have a
garden. Green alternatives include additives made of natural resources that
won't harm the earth.
Simple steps like installing more efficient fixtures
and appliances, using environmentally friendly pipes and cleaners, and more
advanced solutions like converting to a solar water heater, gray water
recycling, or a rainwater harvesting systems, can drastically reduce the
environmental (and economical) footprint of your home.
To reduce the amount of water usage, low-flow and
aerator faucets and shower heads are an obvious choice. Low-flow and
ultra-low-flow toilets are a simple and effective way to reduce the amount of
water being flushed, literally, down the drain.
Although many of these options might be costly
initially, the savings on your water bill will offset the cost over time. In
many cases these are minor changes that most homeowners can tackle themselves
and save as much as 50% of the water used by regular plumbing fixtures.
For those more
adept at plumbing, there are ways to save even more water in the bathroom:
• Shut off-sensor faucets: automatically shuts off the water while
lathering your hands, saving up to 70% of the water used by manual faucets,
which can equate to as much as a gallon per use!
toilets: they feature two handles, one that uses 0.8 gallons to flush
urine, and another that uses 1.6 gallons for solid waste. Conventional
toilets use nearly three gallons of water per flush.
urinals and composting toilets: they use little to no water, drastically
reducing total water usage.
Harvesting and Permeable Pavements
If you’re planning to build a new home or remodel an
old one, there are many ways to reduce the ecological footprint left by your
harvesting can be a simple way to start.
Rainwater is collected in barrels, tanks or cisterns,
rather than running off into gutters, downspouts, and ultimately the sewers.
These systems not only provide a free source of water for your garden or
lawn, but they also take some of the burden off of municipal storm sewer
systems, which can easily be overrun in big storms.
With a little more effort, you can use harvested rainwater
for showering, washing laundry, and flushing your toilet. Rainwater
harvesting can even be used as a source of free drinking water, though the
rainwater may require treating before it is potable.
As rainwater travels down sidewalks, driveways, and
streets, it can pick up all kinds of pollutants and contaminants. Worse yet,
directing rainwater into storm sewers instead of allowing it to become
groundwater has a damaging impact on surface water levels. Not only do
permeable pavements filter out impurities, they also allow rainwater to
percolate through and become groundwater.
If you’re laying a driveway down for a new home or
want to lay down a more environmentally friendly permeable pavement sidewalk,
you have several options.
• Porous asphalt requires no specialized equipment, just
a special formula for porous bituminous pavement. This material does not have
a high load-bearing capacity, and should only be used for pedestrian walkways
or low-traffic parking lots and driveways.
• Porous concrete uses larger pea gravel and a lower
water-to-cement ratio, and also does not require specialized equipment. It
can be used for more heavily trafficked driveways or parking lots.
• Plastic grid systems are quite versatile. Filled with gravel,
they can be used as roadways for heavy vehicles. Filled with soil and sand,
they can be used as landscaping structures that help prevent erosion. The
best part is that they can even be made from recycled plastic!
• Paving blocks are, of course, a very simple way of creating
a driveway or sidewalk that allows water through to the ground instead of
channeling it to gutters and storm sewers.
Drip Irrigation and Leak Monitoring Systems
One of the best ways to conserve water is to make sure
the water you use serves its intended purpose. Remember, over-watered plants
and flooded toilets don’t just waste water; they also cause damage to your
property, which costs you time and money.
irrigation systems use perforated
pipes laid underground to channel all of the water you use for watering your
lawn or garden directly to the root systems of your plants. Moisture sensors
within the drip irrigation system detect when water is needed and shut off
the water when it’s not. An effective, less expensive option is a soaker hose
watering system, which features a garden hose full of tiny holes. To maximize
water savings, use a timer with these systems.
Similarly, leak monitoring systems, installed in your home, will automatically shut off the
water when a leak or other abnormal usage is detected. These systems not only
save water, but can also keep your home and garden from suffering disastrous
and costly floods.
The ultimate way to conserve water is to recycle it
with a graywater treatment system. Graywater is the wastewater from sinks,
showers, and laundry. While graywater isn’t potable, meaning it is no longer
suitable for human consumption, it is safe to use in your garden or even in
your toilet, where nonpotable water will do.
A graywater system stores wastewater from your sinks,
showers, and laundry in a tank where it is run through a very simple
filtration or treatment process. The system then reroutes the graywater to
the toilets in your home or the irrigation runs in your yard.
Some areas do not permit graywater recycling systems
for home use, so you’ll want to check your state’s regulations before
embarking on a remodeling venture that will require permits. Visit the SAHRA
(Sustainability of semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas) Residential Water
Conservation section for a review of gray water re-use
and a great collection of do’s and don’ts.
Dishwashing and laundry machines represent a major
water conservation opportunity. These appliances can use a lot of water, but
many new technologies on the market offer water and energy saving options.
To save energy, here are a few simple steps to follow:
• Turning your
water heater’s thermostat down to 120
degrees instead of 140 can save as much as 10% in water heating costs.
• Wrapping your water heater’s tank and your house’s hot water
pipes not only conserves energy that would have been spent heating
water, it also reduces the amount of water you waste while waiting for the
water from your shower or faucet to heat up.
If you’re willing
to get a little more advanced, here are some more ideas:
• A drainwater heat recovery system uses the hot
water going down your drain to pre-heat the water entering your water heater.
The two streams are never mixed, so you’re always showering in clean water.
Drainwater heat recovery significantly reduces the energy needed to heat the
clean water coming out of your shower or faucet.
• Tankless water heaters
offer another highly effective way to conserve both water and energy,
as they only heat water when you need it. Conventional water heaters use a
lot of standby power to keep a full tank of hot water, but still keep you
waiting when you turn them on because the water trapped in the pipes between
your faucet and the hot water tank has grown cold.
• Solar water heating
is a great way to cut down on the amount of energy used to heat the water
coming out of your shower or faucet, and it also makes use of the cleanest,
most renewable energy source out there. A solar water heating system uses the
sun’s energy to heat water in an insulated tank, and the water is then piped
into your shower or faucet.
Existing solar water heating technologies can supply
as much as 80% of your hot water needs. Because they can’t supply 100%, solar
systems are always backed up by a conventional water heater—either in the
same tank or in a second one—so that you never have to go without your hot
Still, using the sun’s free energy to heat your water
even partially is a great way to save money and energy while reducing the
amount of greenhouse gas emissions your house releases into the atmosphere.
One of the most environmentally unfriendly materials
in your house is PVC piping in your walls. The manufacturing process for PVC
is the chief source of toxic dioxin, a carcinogen that is one of the worst
environmental pollutants in the U.S.
PVC is also not recyclable, which means that as long
as it’s being used as piping in our homes, we are pumping dangerous amounts
of heavy weight toxins into the atmosphere. There are greener piping options,
but keep in mind that each has their own unique set of specifications. Before
you invest, do some research or get a few opinions about what will work best
for your situation.
Here are some of
the ecologically friendly options for your house’s water supply, drainage,
and sewer pipelines:
• Cast iron: recyclable;
contains a high amount of recycled content; heavy; energy intensive
production; low expansion coefficienct
• Vitrified clay: heavy; often used
for large-scale projects
plastics like high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or cross-linked
While copper piping is an option with eco-merits (it’s
100% recyclable), it is important to consider the potential hazard of copper
toxicity in your drinking water supply, which occurs as the copper pipe
dissolves into the water. Read more about Copper in Drinking Water, an
article from the Minnesota Department of Health.
For any home plumbing projects, make sure to use
lead-free solder. Lead is extremely toxic to the vital organs and it can leak
from your pipes into your household water supply.
The Green Future
Many green plumbing products and systems are currently
more costly than their conventional counterparts. Going green with plumbing
is still a smart investment, as it pays for itself and then some by reducing your water and electricity bills. Plus,
many local and state governments offer rebates for installing green plumbing
components in your home. Green plumbing may even increase the resale value of
your home, as more and more people demand environmentally responsible plumbing
Because of its many environmental, economic, and
health benefits, green plumbing is catching on in a big way. The U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is sponsoring a voluntary program
for labeling green plumbing products. The Energy Star label has become a
reliable indicator for energy-efficient electronics and appliances. In time,
perhaps WaterSense and other eco labels will be the new standard for
water-conserving appliances and fixtures as green plumbing goes global.