You can cut down on your utility bills with some adjustments to your home’s plumbing systems. The added benefit is that the modifications can also prevent breakdowns in your plumbing and keep it running efficient. These 10 money saving tips can reduce your water usage, energy usage, and utility bills.
Optimize Your Water Heating System
Your hot water heater has a temperature setting that determines how hot your water can be on full hot setting. Most homes have it set to around 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Setting this at 140 degrees means your heater will use energy to keep the water in the tank at 140 degrees, which can increase your electricity or gas bill depending on what type of water heater you have and if your current setting was lower than 140. While turning this down to the 120 degree setting can save energy, there is one drawback; there are a few bacteria that won’t be killed off at 120 degrees. If you have a more compromised immune system, it may be more advisable to keep the temperature at 140 degrees. Your water heater probably has a vacation mode, which should be set if you are leaving your home unoccupied for a week or longer.
Switch to Low Flow Options
Low flow showers and faucets refer to the amount of water leaving the faucet or shower over time, measured in gallons per minute (GPM). Low flow options limit the amount of water leaving, reducing the amount of water used in the same amount of time as it takes to perform the task such as brushing your teeth or showering which can save you gallons of water per year. While in the past, low flow meant low pressure and resulted in some taking longer showers or time to do the dishes, there are newer options. An aerating showerhead or faucet can reduce the amount of water by mixing air in. If you have strong pressure already, you most likely won’t notice a difference. Non aerated showerheads can reduce water by forcing water through smaller openings which can result in less water overall, but higher pressure in each stream. Aerated versions are the most popular and if you have a modern faucet, you probably already are using an aerated version.
Low Flow Toilets
Your toilet can also be changed to a low flow option to reduce the amount of water used per flush. Depending on your toilet, it may be the toilet itself offers modern technology to require less water needed to flush or the toilet innards that release less water. If your toilet is older than around 1994, your toilet isn’t a more modern design taking advantage of low water required to flush. The 1990s is when toilet manufactures were required to use less water per flush. There are other options to consider, such as dual button toilets that offer two separate flush options to use less water to remove water-based waste vs organic matter.
Bidet toilets can use more water than a toilet, however it is to be considered as while it won’t lower your water bill, you will not need to purchase as much toilet paper, if at all. If you are going for a greener option, a bidet will cut down on toilet paper, which can save the trees that usually go into the paper.
Stop Water Leaks
Leaks may appear to be small and not a problem, but that is not true. Those small leaks can increase your water bill – according to USGS, 3 drips per minute can result a total of 104 gallons per year. Those leaks also hide a potential danger – water damage. Water can warp wood and cause mold which can absorb the organic surface causing structural damage. A small leaky faucet can be fixed usually cheaply, so it’s best to get the problem fixed as early as possible. A thing to note is, some leaks are obvious such as a leaky faucet, however all sorts of appliances can be leaking as well such as your washer, dishwasher, refrigerator, and your air conditioner. Check your toilet for leaks as well, as they can be the source of the biggest water damage repairs. You can check your water meter frequently to see if it is running while everything should be off. If you have a smart system, you may be able to use leak detection sensors.
Insulate Your Pipes
This one isn’t as obvious, however there are two reasons to insulate your pipes. What is the first thing you do when you turn on the hot water? You wait for the hot water to arrive, why is this? The water sitting in your pipes gets colder as travels along your plumbing so insulating the pipes can reduce the amount of heat loss and cause the water to be warmer quicker. While this isn’t a huge impact, insulating your pipes also helps keep your pipes from bursting in colder weather due to freezing temperatures.
Smart Home System and Sensors
Smart home systems can control the home’s temperature and measure changes in your plumbing, which can cut down on energy cost and find problems before they become a big repair. While you may be familiar with the ability to schedule your heating and air conditioning with your phone, you may not know about leak detection sensors and smart pipes, LED temperature monitors, smart dimmers, etc. Smart pipes and leak detection sensors can cut off water flow when a pipe burst or develops a leak, saving not only water, but your home from water damage. LED temperature settings can monitor and tell your smart home system to adjust settings as needed, this can mean you can stop your water heater or other devices from running when you aren’t there. Smart dimmers can adjust your lighting to exactly how much light you want in the environment and cut down on energy use as well. With a proper smart home system setup, you can significantly cut down on energy use, while also enjoying a more preferred home environment with hot water and lighting being set to as bright and hot as you prefer.
Filling your washing machine/dishwasher
Some washers and dishwashers don’t have sensors to control how much water gets used per wash, resulting in wasted water. If you have one of these types, filling or maximizing each load can reduce the amount of water is wasted and cut down on usage.
Optimize your toilet water levels
Toilet technology has come a long way and newer models can be customized with different plumbing options to your preferred usage. A toilet can take advantage of less water needed per flush and some toilet innards can be customized to release less water from the tank to cut down on water consumption per flush. Other types of toilet upgrades consist of changing a standard toilet into a bidet, adding a second flush option that uses less or more water than the current toilet flush settings, and self-cleaning options.
Cutting Down on Water Usage for Daily Tasks
Taking shorter showers and optimizing how you do your dishes can cut significate water usage that can be seen on your water bills. You may upgrade your showerhead to a low flow showerhead with higher water pressure to use less water but get you cleaner faster. Better organizing dirty dishes can cut down on wasted water while washing and rinsing and using a drying rack to air dry will cut down on the number of times you wash your drying cloths.
Energy Efficient Appliances
Every home appliance that uses energy or water probably has seen improvements with each model upgrade. Toilets made before the 1990’s used significate more water per flush as they have been forced to change by US law. Sump pumps are another appliance that rarely gets upgraded. If you haven’t touched your sump pump in a while, it is good to check that it is in working order, before you have an issue and need it. Every year new appliances get better versions due to companies looking to cut down on manufacturing cost and to sell a better version than their last one. Current Washing machines now have sensors that can use less water depending on the size of the load. Air conditioners used to use a lot of energy to run as the most important feature used to be how well they cooled the room, however consumers started to buy more energy efficient models as it became a more important feature. Now you will see how energy efficient they are and how much it cost to run per year prominently on the box due to the change in consumer’s demand. Upgrading appliances that are 5 or 10 years old such as your water heater, can help lower your energy bills and may have newer more desirable features than what your current model has.
Water Recycling Systems
You can reuse some of the water that your plumbing would normally send off with a water recycling system. This water will instead be sent off to your lawn or used to flush your toilet. Water from your shower, sinks, and other systems is known as “Gray Water” and can be sent back into a recycling system that can be sent to your irrigation system or in some plumbing systems, your toilet water tank to use instead of your main water system. This can cut down on your water bills especially if you have a home garden that you regularly water.
If you would like to take advantage of any of the cost saving measures above, but are not comfortable with making changes to your plumbing system, call a professional plumber. If you are in the Southern NJ and eastern PA area, call us – Wittmaier Plumbing at (856) 858-1965