Monday, January 24, 2011

Change by Example – Walking the Eco-Friendly Walk

Sometimes it’s easy to feel as if you’re going it alone in your efforts to make a positive impact on the environment. Sure, everyone talks about “going green” and these days it’s practically impossible to go anywhere without seeing advertisements for eco-friendly products – but, in the end, you’re left with a feeling that a lot of it is nothing more than lip service designed to sell a product. 
It’s easy to recognize these things and get discouraged. For this reason, it’s imperative that you align yourself with as many like-minded individuals as you can and take the necessary steps to make the world a better place. Here’s how.
Step One: Start at Point Zero
You’re probably familiar with the old saying, “charity begins at home.” The same can be applied towards conservation. Your home is point zero -- the place where you can affect the most positive overall change. 
It’s yours, you run it, and you alone are responsible for insuring that the conservation efforts you take are in line with your goals. If you’re concerned about the state of the environment and want to take measures to do as much as you possibly can, you can begin by taking the following steps:
  • Update your home with Energy Star-compliant appliances. This includes your refrigerator, washer/dryer, dishwasher, and furnace.
  • Replace your windows with double-paned glass to keep the warm air in during winter and the hot air out during summer. This can have a dramatic impact on your heating and cooling system usage and won’t require you to suffer for the sake of conservation.
  •  Upgrade to an energy efficient tank-less water heater to cut back on energy consumption and needless water waste.
  • Refit all of your household plumbing fixtures for maximum water conservation. Install low flow shower heads and automatic shut-off faucets to limit your use of water.
  • Install new low flush toilets in all of your bathrooms to limit needless water waste.
Step Two: Get Assessed
If you’re a fan of the board game, Monopoly, the notion of “getting assessed” might make you wince, but, in this scenario, it’s actually a good thing. You can arrange to get someone’s professional opinion on how you’re doing with your home conservation efforts and whether you’ve already taken steps to update your home with all of the suggestions above or are just getting started. 
One of the best places to begin is by contacting a green plumbing company that will come to your home and inspect your existing set-up. Doing so, you can accomplish quite a few things:
  • Assess the efficiency of your eco-friendly plumbing fixtures by having them tested to ensure they’re performing properly or get an estimate on replacing your old-school shower heads and faucets.
  • Have the wear and tear of your home’s plumbing checked out to ensure you’re getting maximum performance.
  • Gain insight from a professional on how to change your water consumption habits. As you can imagine, fitting your home with all the proper equipment to maximize your water conservation is only half the battle – the other half is entirely dependent on how you use that equipment. For example, if you have low flush toilets installed in every bathroom in your home but you’re constantly flushing tissue and cotton balls when you could be using a wastebasket, you’re essentially defeating the purpose. 
  • Potentially open up your eyes to conservation methods you haven’t even considered with the help of a green plumbing professional. Receive an accurate calculation that will tell you in dollars and cents precisely how much money you will save by performing any necessary plumbing updates and changing your water usage habits.
Step Three: Spread the Word
Once you’ve made your home a Mecca for all things environmental, the best thing you can do is share the wealth… of information. Use your home as a platform for getting more people interested in conservation by showing them it can be done. 
Have “green parties” to invite people into your home, show them what it’s like to live in a fully eco-friendly environment and encourage them to get on board the bandwagon. By being a living example of conservation in action, the impact you make could be far more widespread than you ever thought possible.
Contact a representative from Pete’s Plumbing today to schedule your very own home assessment and get on the track to maximum conservation. Have you had any experience already with turning your home into a haven for environmental change? Share your conservation ideas below.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Big Business of Going Green

In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s been a marked change recently in the way that corporations do business. More and more companies are beginning to embrace green technologies, but the reasons might surprise you. 
As it turns out, treating the environment well isn’t just something that’s done for altruistic purposes – there are actually smart business reasons for doing so.

Big-Time Cost Savings
Businesses, especially those that occupy large commercial spaces and pay astronomical monthly utility bills, are finding it in their best interests to adopt certain environmentally friendly practices for the sake of cutting operation costs. In what could be seen as a great irony, the recent economic crisis that’s been the downfall of so many formerly flourishing companies could very well be the best thing that’s happened for the environment in decades. 
Surviving businesses have learned the importance of tightening their belts like never before, extending these efforts to the very basics and taking up practices that might not have been considered under different circumstances. These practices are broad and rarely uniform, but some of the most popular include:
  • Cutting electricity costs by installing automated lighting. Whereas posting gentle reminders to employees about turning off lights when rooms aren’t in use goes a long way, installing systems that automatically turn off lights after working hours is a reliable means of actual enforcement and could conceivably save a company thousands of dollars per month, especially for those that occupy large buildings and have multiple levels. On a smaller scale, it can still make a sizeable dent in monthly electricity bills.
  • Saving water and simultaneously reducing carbon emissions by upgrading building plumbing systems to include eco-friendly technology. This technology includes automatic shutoff faucets and low-flow toilets in public bathrooms and tankless or hybrid water heaters.
  • Recycling paper, plastic, and aluminum cans. More and more companies are promoting green awareness and receiving considerable financial return by putting recycling bins throughout their buildings and encouraging employees to pitch in.

  • Adhering to Public and Employee Pressure
    If tough economic times have taught us anything, it’s that a company that listens to its customers and employees is one that stands a far better chance of weathering a financial crisis. When all that stands between survival and failure is the thin membrane of public confidence, it pays to pay attention. 
    Company leaders know this and are taking steps to adopt eco-friendly practices as the result of almost universal support from both customers and employees. Are you an employee of a corporation, a customer, or shareholder who would like to see green initiatives put into place? Here are a few things you can do at the grass roots level to encourage companies to be more environmentally conscious:
    • Write letters to the executive level expressing your desire to see positive changes made. You may think that a single letter has no chance of being read, but if everyone who shares your passion were to send a letter, that collective voice would have a great impact.
    • If you’re an employee, participate in on-the-job green initiatives. Frequently, large companies will make decisions on whether or not to participate more heavily in these kinds of programs by gauging the interest of their employees.
    • Buy green products and hire local companies who provide green services. Voting with your wallet has always been, and continues to be, the simplest and most effective method of bringing about change.
    Genuine Environmental Concerns
    You might have the image that all corporations are led by people whose only concern is “the bottom line.” The concept that there are actually people in powerful positions who share a common concern for the environment is a foreign one to some. But, the reality is that business leaders are now finding it far simpler to pursue their personal desires to contribute to a greener environment thanks to technological advances that have made it financially feasible to do so. Even though the tide has been slow to turn, it is turning.

    Do you work for a company or own a company that’s taken steps to become more environmentally conscious? What are some of the practices that have been put into place and what were their effects? Share your experiences and thoughts below.

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    The Nitty-Gritty on Tap Water vs. Bottled Water

    There are many reasons why having a filtration system installed in your home is far preferable to getting your water supply from a bottled water company. Aside from the rising cost of “designer water,” there are also health and environmental issues to consider.
    If you’ve ever struggled with the decision of whether to install a water filter in your home or continue buying bottled water, struggle no more. Here are the top three reasons why a water filtration system is the best possible answer to piping the cleanest, healthiest water supply into your home.

    1. Bottled Water Leads to Landfill Pollution – Before you go calling it an oxymoron, consider the fact that not all of the refuse that ends up in our landfills degrades at the same rate of speed. A tossed apple core lasts a month, and a newspaper can stick around for a matter of a few weeks, but the same plastic bottles that carry our purchased water can take about 500 years to biodegrade. We say “about” because nobody can be certain. Since plastic bottles haven’t been around that long, we haven’t really been able to put a timer on their lifespan. However, estimates from reputable sources tell us that this time-frame could be even longer than 500 years. So, what’s the net result? Less space in landfills – hence, landfill pollution.
    2. The Bottled Water Industry Burns Fossil Fuels – Conservation-minded individuals, such as yourselves, aren’t only concerned with the quality of water that you put into your body, but you are also have a broader perspective about achieving a healthy state for the environment around you. When it comes to the issue of bottled water, it’s important to remember that the bottled water industry relies heavily on the burning of fossil fuels to thrive. Water that’s imported from other countries has to be transported via cargo planes. Likewise, the water that’s delivered to your local grocery store relies on delivery trucks. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist – or an EPA report – to be able to appreciate the adverse effect this industry has on the environment.
    3. Bottled Water is Not Healthier – There’s a common misconception held by a majority of people that bottled water is healthier than municipal water systems. The fact is that our water supplies are inspected on a regular basis for bacteria and harmful chemicals. This is a process that falls under the oversight of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). But, bottled water, which is overseen by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), isn’t subject to the same types of tests unless it happens to cross state lines to be sold. And, 70 percent of the time, this doesn’t happen. What this means is that there’s actually more regulation for the water that comes out of your tap than the bottle that’s delivered to your local grocery store by bottled water companies.

    If your aim is to ensure the water you and your family consume is free from harmful toxins and bacteria, the most effective method is to install a water filtration system in your home. Doing so offers the best possible solution to the concerns of municipal water safety and also frees you from contributing to an industry whose effect on the environment is far from beneficial. It’s also a lot cheaper in the long run.
    If you’re interested in finding out just how affordable it is, contact a representative of Pete’s Plumbing today for a whole-house water filtration consultation. If you already have one of these systems, leave a comment below to tell us about how you feel it works for you.

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    Going DIY on Your Running Toilet

    It’s a question that’s been asked countless times throughout the years and has always elicited a variety of responses: What makes a good plumber? Some might say being reliable. Others might believe it’s about offering affordable services. 

    But, in our opinion, the best kind of plumber is one that ensures you’re not reliant on their services for every single task, especially the minor ones that you really could take care of yourself. One of these minor tasks is running toilet.

    The Symptom: Running Toilet
    Although the question “Is your toilet running?” sounds like a set-up for some cheesy prank call, the reality is seldom a laughing matter. This is especially the case if you’re fresh out of earplugs, and the constant running of your toilet water is keeping you up at night. Everyone’s experienced this at some point or another and, although terribly annoying, it’s typically not a problem that’s difficult to fix. 

    A running toilet will usually function properly – that is to say, it’ll operate the way it’s supposed with the exception of the sound of running water when a toilet has completed its flush cycle. If you’re having issues that extend beyond the simple sound of trickling water after you’ve flushed, the situation might require a professional. Otherwise, it may be time to take a DIY approach at resolving the issue.

    The Diagnosis: Determining the Source of the Leak
    This really isn’t as complex as it sounds. The first step is always to remove your toilet tank lid and simply have a look. While you’re taking a peek under your toilet’s hood, jiggle the flush handle. Sometimes this is enough to fix the problem as the chain that’s connected to the handle assembly can get caught. If this is the case, making a minor adjustment could be all that the plumbing doctor ordered. 

    If you jiggle the handle and the running water continues, check the condition of all of the parts of your toilet tank’s inner assembly. Look for corrosion or missing or worn rubber parts that could be preventing your tank from operating the way it was intended.

    The Cure: Replacing Worn or Broken Parts
    Replacing your toilet tank parts isn’t rocket science – it’s not even real plumbing science. All that’s needed is a basic understanding of how the parts function together, which you can ascertain simply by watching them operate. 

    The first step is to replace any worn or broken parts. You can pick up replacements at your local hardware store or home improvement chain at relatively inexpensive costs, and each has instructions for installation. 
    Before you remove any parts in preparation for replacement, be sure that you’ve located the water inlet shutoff valve and turned off the water supply by cranking the valve in a clockwise direction. 

    After you’ve done this, you can flush most of the water from the toilet tank so that you don’t have to get too wet in the repair process. Once the replacement parts have been secured into place, turn your water supply back on and flush your toilet. 

    If the problem persists, it may be time to contact a plumber to have them assess the situation. As always, if you encounter any damage that appears to be beyond the scope of your ability to repair, this may also be a good time to call in the services of a plumber to have them take a look.
    What has been your experience getting a leaky toilet to stop running? Share your experiences or ask questions here so that our knowledgeable team of plumbers can help you!