Thursday, July 28, 2011

Habits in Business and at Home that Waste Water Unnecessarily

We’re all trying our best to conserve water. Saving water is great both for the environment and for our water bill. But, try as we might, some water usage habits are so ingrained we don’t even realize how our everyday actions might be wasting water. Both businesses and residential customers can change those water-wasting habits, starting with recognizing where they go wrong.

Business Habits
With an eye on the bottom line, businesses are quick to implement policies that reduce waste and encourage savings. However, there’s always room for improvement. Consider these ways in which businesses waste water:
·        Not creating a written water conservation policy. Having a water conservation policy is an important step in reducing the amount of water your business wastes. However, if that policy isn’t written down, it might as well not exist. Creating a written water conservation policy provides concrete guidelines and expectations that employees can refer to and follow.
·        Not incentivizing water conservation. While it’s great to inform employees about water conservation measures through written policies and meetings, incentivizing the process will help motivate employees to find more ways to reduce water usage.
·        Not getting professional help. There are many resources a business can rely on for help reducing wasteful water usage. A green plumber can perform a water usage audit and pinpoint ways to repair or upgrade existing plumbing to use water more efficiently. Often, there are rebates and incentives available through local water utilities that make working with a Green Plumber even more affordable. Even doing something as simple as spending a few minutes consulting your local water conservation office’s website can yield tangible results.

Residential Habits
At home, it’s easy to do things like only running full loads of laundry or dishes, but there are plenty of hidden ways residential customers unknowingly waste water:
·        Not checking lawn and garden irrigation systems for leaks and damage. This one is easy to overlook, especially if you’re watering late at night or in the early hours of the morning. Water running down the sidewalk or driveway might already be dried up by the time you see your yard. Periodically run your system during daylight hours to inspect sprinklers and hoses for leaks or to see if they need repositioning.
·        Not replacing old plumbing fixtures with new, water-efficient models. It’s easy to put off upgrading plumbing fixtures, especially if the existing fixtures seem to work just fine and your water usage hasn’t increased or spiked due to hidden leaks. However, the investment in new fixtures will quickly pay for itself with lower water bills. Even something as relatively small as upgrading your old shower head can result in big savings over a relatively short time period.
·        Not collecting rainwater from the roof. This is a huge resource often overlooked by homeowners. What could be better than free water for your garden? A variety of rainwater harvesting options is available, ranging from a simple barrel to more complex systems that allow you to store and use water over a longer time period or divert some of it for other areas.

Your Habits
How did you bust your bad habits? Tell us your water-reducing tips, or contact us to help you bust your water wasting habits.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Building a Green Plumbing System for a New Custom Home

 If you are in the process of building your own home or working with a construction company on creating the house of your dreams, this is a good time to explore how to make it as green as possible. 
Going green on a new home build starts at the heart of any home – and that is its plumbing. This blog post helps provide some great tips on constructing an eco friendly plumbing system for your new home build.
Green from the Inside Out
To get you started on a green lifestyle that starts with your carbon friendly home design, here are some great tips to incorporate during the construction process on a new custom home:
  • Toilets consume more water than any other fixture in the house. Install high-efficiency toilets to save water.
  • Drain water heat recovery systems are installed under tubs and showers during new construction as each fixture needs its own device. These work to recover heat from waste water for additional energy and water savings.
  • Pre-plumbing for future greywater systems has your house ready for when your state allows this type of process. Doing it during the construction process is much easier than trying to retrofit a house for it at a later date. This water can then be used for flushing toilets and outdoor water rather than using up precious potable water. 
Top Green Tips for Residential Plumbing Systems
Here are some quick and easy tips that make a considerable difference when it comes to heating and water usage:
  • Install a high-efficiency water heater with a low lifecycle cost, such as a tankless water heater. These provide on-demand hot water rather than those that work overtime to continually circulate water.
  • Insulate hot water lines for maximum heat transfer and lower utility bills.
  • Reduce the number of restrictions in hot water supply lines, which creates a better water flow and cuts out any concerns over water pressure.
  • Use PEX tubing instead of copper or PVC because this saves time and money during construction and reduces potential leaks, which are the biggest water waster.
  • After installing the water heater, set the thermostat at 120° F.
  • Have a water and energy audit done by a plumbing professional as you go to ensure that every aspect of your plumbing system is green appropriate and you haven’t missed anything in the process. Better to do it now before the house is done only to discover you could have done more to go green.
Planning Ahead
Going green from the ground up will save you considerably more in the long run because you are investing in equipment, fixtures, and processes that will save you a significant amount on your water and heating bill. Plus, you will get the satisfaction of knowing that you did the right thing as you designed your new home for a sustainable future.

Tell us your experience with building a green home or send us your questions if you are thinking about doing a new build and need a plumber who specializes in eco plumbing fixtures and green plumbing service.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pipe Precautions: Tips to Avoid Back-ups and Mishaps

Throughout the year, you most likely find all types of ways to put your pipes through their paces by seeing what they can take. Then, one day, they decide to turn on you by backing up and just simply not working or, even worse, creating messes you would have preferred to have avoided. 
Here are some tips on keeping your pipes all clear and in good working order.

Pipe and Drain Problems
There are a number of places where pipes and drains come into contact with problems that you can most likely help them avoid:
  • Kitchen Sink and Garbage Disposal: The kitchen sink becomes the solution for everything, but this doesn’t mean it is the right solution. Grease, soap scum, and food are not always the best diet for your sink and garbage disposal. Foods to avoid include any fibrous foods like corn husks, banana peels, and celery. Also avoid putting grease and fats down the sink because they clot in the pipes, creating quite an impasse. Also try to avoid instant foods like stuffing and potato mixes for the same reason. Think about going the compost route with some of these items instead for a green approach that also prevents your disposal, drains, and pipes from getting overworked.
  • Bathroom: This room has numerous problem areas, including the shower, bathtub, sinks, and toilet that all can experience blockages and backups. This can be due to hair, soap, shampoo scum, and too many things trying to go down the toilet (perhaps even some items that your young children might have thought were good to watch slide down the toilet bowl!). Try to also avoid flushing wipes or Kleenex down the toilet as this is often too much for a toilet to handle. 
  • Laundry Room: The laundry area also can be susceptible to backed up drains or pipes due to hair and soap scum. Often, a regular pipe de-clogging product found at the grocery store can clear blockages in these floor drains.
  • Lawn & Garden: Sewer line backups are common, especially from tree root growth.  In this case, it is best to have a professional inspect the sewer lines with video equipment to assess if you are at risk or if damage may have already occurred. They can also help effectively clear out any blockages.
Proactive Pipe Precautions
Besides the tips listed above, there are other ways to ensure that blockages and back-ups don’t ruin your day or lead to an unplanned expense:
  • Regularly run hot water through your pipes, which can dislodge smaller clogs.
  • Try baking soda, which is a great home remedy for certain clogs and a good tactic to use once a month to maintain clean pipes.
  • Clean pop up drain stoppers weekly to remove hair and soap build-up.
  • Keep household drain cleaners on hand to address any clogs as they may occur.
Your Plumbing Dilemmas
What are your experiences with pipe blockages and backups? What did you find worked best? Do you have any questions for us? Please share below.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

While Summer Sizzles, Water Dwindles: Indoor Water Conservation Tips

With temperatures reaching triple digits around the country, water comes to mind as a great way to stay cool and refreshed. After all, it is the best thing to drink to stay hydrated and often helps us to feel better after showering off the perspiration, chlorine, and film of sunscreen lotion that often covers us during these hot months. Yet, with the hot weather comes the warnings about water rationing and need to be careful.
While many of you may know some of the common indoor water conservation tips about shorter showers and turning the tap off when brushing your teeth, there are many others highlighted by water saving organizations that can help you do your part without losing the seasonal comforts that water can bring during the summer.

Smart Water Saving Tips
Water Use It Wisely is a site dedicated to helping consumers and businesses be smart with water usage. Some of their top tips for indoor water conservation include:
  • Compost food scraps to reduce use of garbage disposal, which, in turn, saves gallons of water.
  • Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator to avoid turning on the tap too often and wasting excess water. This helps you use only what you need.
  • Use a pan of water to rinse fruits and vegetables rather than just putting them under the tap.
  • Reuse dishes and glasses throughout the day. Try to stick to one plate and glass for meals, snacks, and beverages. This will cut down on water used for dishwashing.
  • Defrost food in the refrigerator rather than running water over it.
  • Regularly audit your water bill. A considerable jump in water usage on the bill may indicate that you have leaks that may have otherwise been undetected.
  • Pass on good water habits to your children. Teach them the importance of turning off taps in between washing hands and brushing teeth.
Links for More Information
The Internet provides a wealth of information about water conservation, including a number of sites geared directly to consumers to help them become more sensitive to this limited natural resource:
There are many more sites, but these are a great start for helping to learn more about how you can do your part to save potable water.
The Proof is in the Plumbing
Beyond just your own habits with water, there are also ways in which a plumber can help you reduce indoor water usage:
  • Conduct a water conservation audit of your appliances and plumbing fixtures.
  • Recommend air-cooled appliances rather than water-cooled models.
  • Inspect for pipe leaks, using high-tech video cameras.
  • Install low-flow toilets and other water-saving devices.
  • Upgrade to a tankless water heater for hot water on demand to avoid running the shower or tap until the water gets hot enough.
  • Have your plumber re-route gray water to trees and gardens rather than letting it run into the sewer line. Be sure to make sure your city codes allow this and, if they don’t, then think about starting a movement to get that changed.
  • Create a lifestyle water usage chart to teach the family how to use less water each day.

Your Ideas
What are your ideas or tips for saving water indoors? Please be sure to share them with our readers below. Thank you!