Greener Gadgets: DIY Plumbing Updates to Save Money and Water

December 30, 2013

Are you an environmentally conscious person who loves to save money while saving the planet? If so, then paying attention to your water consumption is a must, especially in your bathroom. With a few plumbing supplies and a couple tweaks to your water habits you can create an eco-friendly bathroom that will save your money, and water, from going down the drain.

Check For Leaks: Faucet and toilet leaks can be the number one source of water waste, causing you to lose hundreds of gallons of water a year without a sound. According to the United States Geological Survey, USGS, you can lose up to 34 gallons of water a year with a single faucet dripping once a minute. To see if your toilet is the culprit, simply drop a little food coloring into the tank. If you see the color in the toilet bowl after 30 minutes without flushing, then you need a toilet repair. Also take note of what your water meter says within an hour period in which you are not using any water. If the numbers change, you have a leak.

Replace Your Toilet: Now might be the perfect time to replace that leaky toilet. And even if your toilet is not leaking and you simply want to be greener, consider installing a water-conserving commode. In the past, low flow toilets did not work as well as standard toilets and were pricier than average. Today's water conserving toilets are similarly priced to the non-eco-friendly ones and save up to 25 percent more water than standard toilets with every flush.

Low Flow Is The Way To Go: This is a very easy Do-It-Yourself plumbing fixture project. Low flow faucets and showerheads can be purchased at a reasonable price at any hardware store. A family of four that takes showers once a day for five minutes uses up to 700 gallons of water a week. This number can be cut in half when you install a low flow shower head and you won't even be compromising the water pressure. You can save up to 20,000 gallons of water in a year's time, not to mention the decrease in heating cost for warming up that water. Spend a little money on plumbing materials to save a lot of money and water throughout the year.

Watch Your Water Habits: Do you take long hot showers or keep the water running when you brush your teeth or shave? All of these may be causing you to waste water, energy and money. Instead, take shorter, cooler showers to save on water and the energy it takes to heat the shower. Make sure you turn the faucet off when brushing your teeth, only using the water to rinse out your mouth and wash off the brush. Consider putting a plug in the sink or filling a cup with water while shaving so that you can re-use the water to rinse off the razor. A little conscious awareness goes a long way.

Go Tankless: Consider getting rid of your electric water heater and opting for a tankless water heater instead. This type of system only works when needed. There is no tank so you never run out of hot water. As soon as you turn on your faucet, water passes through the heat exchanger and is delivered to you nice and hot. These water heaters take up less space and end up costing you as much as 40% less on your energy bill. You even get the added bonus of being tax credit eligible as a reward for being eco-friendly. It really pays to save the planet.

In most homes, the bathroom is the least eco-friendly room in the house. With hot water running, toilets flushing and sinks dripping, you can really leave an unfriendly imprint on our earth and your wallet. Try these easy Do-It-Yourself tips to help your home become a more efficient, cleaner and greener place to live.

Chris Long is a store associate at a Home Depot in the Chicago suburbs. He has been helping customers since 2000, and writes for the Home Depot website on plumbing fixtures and water heater advice.