“Green” Plumbing Improvements
A professional plumber with knowledge of and experience with green industry methods can suggest a number of ways that household plumbing can be improved to be easier on the planet, run more efficiently, and save the homeowner in operating costs.
ENERGY STAR-certified products. ENERGY STAR is a joint effort of the US Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency focused on providing consumers information regarding energy-efficient products. The EPA has created a set of guidelines to assess a product’s energy efficiency and selects those that meet its criteria for the Energy Star label. If a product features the ENERGY STAR label, it has been deemed by the EPA as being more energy efficient than its competitors in its energy consumption and performance. In addition, products earning the label must also deliver the standard features and performance of similar products.
Water-conserving fixtures. Low-flow faucets, shower heads, and toilets have improved a great deal over the years in both quality and affordability. Modern designs have produced fixtures that can conserve water yet still provide similar water pressure to older plumbing models.
Tankless water heaters. Rather than heat and store water in a central tank, tankless water heaters heat water directly as it passes through a series of gas burners or electric coils. Since the water is only warmed as it is used, a tankless unit can help reduce both energy costs and consumption.
Solar energy. Some plumbing contractors are beginning to specialize in helping homeowners convert to solar power for household appliances. For example, a plumbing professional can replace a traditional water heater with a solar-powered one, which will harness free energy from the sun to heat water for dishwashers, showers, and washing machines. While this move can provide significant savings over the long term, the time and money investments up front are substantial. Going solar is not for every household.