Water Efficiency - Water Conservation In The Home

Struve's Paint - www.struvespaint.com

This educational article is brought to you by
Rochester Area Builders, Inc. with the support of Gander Plumbing & Heating.

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Although many people still take it for granted, water is precious and needs to be used in a thoughtful manner. Bob Gander, owner of Gander Plumbing, puts it succinctly by saying, “Water is one of the most important resources in our lives, which is why it is important to save and protect it.” 

Water conservation takes many forms

Simple, everyday activities can be modified to reduce water consumption. Washing clothes or dishes only when having a full load, not allowing the faucet to run continuously while shaving or brushing teeth, repairing dripping faucets or leaking pipes - these are but a few of the things that can be done to reduce the wasteful consumption of water. Water can also be recycled by saving rainwater or “gray water” that has been used to wash dishes or clothes and re-using it to flush toilets, rather than using fresh, potable water for that purpose. Although water is commonly re-used in commercial car washes, etc., this option is still in the early stages of development for residential use. For now, the successful and practical use of either rainwater or gray water lies somewhere down the road.

Adjustments within the home

Here, the focus is on three areas within the home that can easily be altered to help conserve water. Once changes have been made, each system can be used day to day without having to give it a second thought. All three carry the label of “high efficiency,” and they are familiar to us all; toilets, faucets and shower heads.

Low-flush toilets

There are still a few 5.5 Gallons per Flush (GPF) toilets around, but typically, older toilets are equipped with holding tanks that make 3.5 gallons of water available for each use. When thought was first given to the amount of water being wasted with each flush, simple innovations to reduce the amount of water inside the tank were employed. Commonly used items to offset water volume included bricks or plastic bottles filled with sand. But as is often the case, the solution to one problem led to the creation of another one. Although the reduced water volume was adequate most of the time, the toilets themselves were not designed for less than 3.5 gallons of water per flush. Consequently, toilets occasionally had to be flushed more than once, in effect wasting more water than the original, unadulterated flush would have consumed. In recent years, toilet design has evolved and low-flush, 1.6 GPF toilets are now required for new construction. In an existing home with a 3.5 GPF toilet, upgrading to a 1.6 GPF model will save the average family a substantial amount of money, as well as thousands of gallons of water per year. An even more efficient, 1.28 GPF model is also available, but at a much higher price. For this reason, the decision to choose the most efficient model would have to take return on investment into consideration.

Low-flow faucets

The nozzle of a faucet is generally equipped with an aerator. This device mixes air into the flow of water from the supply lines, giving it a full, even flow. The typical aerator is rated at 2.75 or 2.2 Gallons per Minute (GPM). High-efficiency faucet aerators are around 1.5 GPM, representing a savings of over 30%.

Low-flow shower heads

Similarly, shower heads are equipped with aerators. And, since showering accounts for 22% of water usage in North America, reducing the GPMs used will save significant amounts of water and money. Since there is a wide range of shower head features and options, comparing product brochures makes good sense before making a purchase.

Installing the products

Replacing either a faucet or shower aerator is not difficult and can be done easily by most homeowners. No special tools are required and the aerators themselves are not very expensive. Toilets, on the other hand, require skill to install and, unless one has experience in this area, the replacement of a toilet should be done by a qualified plumber. Another advantage of working with a plumbing professional is that he will be familiar with product rebates that may be available from local-area utility companies. According to Gander, “Rochester Public Utilities offers rebates on many water-conserving products. We help our customers apply for them, and the rebates can be substantial.”

A steady drip…

A little product research and comparison of specifications will go a long way towards selecting the replacement products that are right for you. Making these changes in how water flows through your home will result in much less precious water, and money, unnecessarily flowing down the drain.


Copyright 2018 Rochester Area Builders, Inc. No part of these articles may be reproduced or printed without written permission from Rochester Area Builders, 108 Elton Hills Lane NW, Rochester, MN 55901. Phone (507) 282-7698.