What about Water?
Using less water means that first we need to identify where we use the most. In the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room we can reduce the amount of water we use without compromising anything else. We can look at the toilet, the shower, sinks and the washing machine as large water users. The steps below can reduce the water your toilet uses by 25% and what water pumps through your shower head by a 30% reduction. (see book for full disclosure of % calculations) A little knowledge and investment in conservation methods saves more money in the long run that it costs to replace parts in the beginning.
To use less water in the toilet, all you need is a soda bottle and pebbles. See this Wiki Step by Step for how to use less water when you flush if you have an older non efficient toilet. One step up, for about $50, is to install dual flush converter.
The book offered a dual flush converter by Brondell. The image below shows how this works.
Next, I learned about the new wave in water conservation from Water Saver Technologies. Their AQUS, a grey water system, recycles water used from the sink and pipes it to your toilet.
Oh, and get this, some states will actually give you money if you replace your existing toilet. Check out Toilet Rebates in your state here.
If you want to consider a Whole House Gray Water System, look at case studies on homes and commercial spaces that have integrated this type of plumbing.
Not that I am a big proponent in consumption, but if there are ways I can acknowledge what I am using to use less, then I may weigh the purchase against that.
How about Electricity to Heat Water?
If you are building new and want to recover water to use again, or the heat in that waste water, here are a few resources the book offered: Clivus Multrum ReWater Systems EcoInnovation Technologies RenewABILiTY Energy Inc ReTherm Energy Systems WaterFilm Energy
A simple solution to keeping water hotter after it leaves your water tank is to insulate the hot water pipes or the tank itself! Or, have you ever thought about only heating water when you need it. If you work away from home all day, or sleep a normal nights rest, do you really need hot water at 3am or at 1 in the afternoon during the week? There is a green solution for this! A programmable thermostat. I found one at Cardellos, a local Wheeling WV store for $60. You may also want to check the temperature. 123 degrees is ideal and for every 10 degree reduction you can save 3-5% in the energy that it takes to heat that unused hot water.Wrapping your hot water tank in a blanket of insulation allows you to turn the tank down 2-4 degrees… which means that you can do a math problem with your electricity bill to figure out the rate of return in the savings it allows you once the 3-5% energy cost reduction equals the cost of the insulation blanket. Warm up with this idea from recycled cotton to hot water tank blanket from Bonded Logic.
Call your local utilities to find out about rebates on your conservation efforts and check out DSIRE for state incentives, or call your local architect! 🙂
Hot Water Heaters:
The Gas Tankless saves more! It is more difficult to install though because running a larger gas line is probably necessary. And, if you plan to have a radiant heating system underfoot you needs a conventional tank, or use a conventional tank to be a fire burner. Some rebates and tax credits are available. Eternal Water Heater – These tankless models by lasts twice as long, at 20 years!
Solar Hot Water Heater- you’ll need 10sf of roof space per person in the house. There are three types of collectors and they are the batch, flat plate and the evacuated tube collector. The most efficient being the evacuated tube collectors. The simplest is a passive system, where no pumps are needed. Use pylene glycol as solution in cold weather climate as a closed loop system. This method of water heating will run 3,600 – 9,000 big ones.
What’s this about? NABCEP.org
Water Bottle fact: It takes 2-3x the water to make a plastic bottle compared to what the little plastic guy holds. Invest in a filter. I researched a few different kinds and came to an easy solution with PUR’s Mineral Clear faucet attachment.
What about water conservation in the yard? The book discussed drip irrigation and using native plants in your yard instead of tending to a lawn.
In drip irrigation, water is run through pipes (with holes in them) either buried or lying slightly above the ground next to the crops. Water slowly drips onto the crop roots and stems. Unlike spray irrigation, very little is lost to evaporation and the water can be directed only to the plants that need it, cutting back on water waste. –USGS’s Water Science for Schools
Our Ohio offers some advice for getting your lawn off of grass, and gives advice on planting native plants. Or, we could all be a bit more like Damali Ayo and plant your entire yard as your edible garden! You’ll have something to do with all of that compost if your community ever initiates a Pay-As-You-Throw program.
Think about rain water harvesting for showers, laundry, and plants. You could consider investing in a rain barrel to water your yard or garden. Make sure that your roof is made of non toxic asphalt tile, metal or plastic.
Hope you are enjoying all of these Green tips from Green $ense!