Tuesday, September 5, 2017 - by Mike Croxall, president, Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga
Want to reduce your water bills – and be a little nicer to the environment? Take the advice of the experts at the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program and start with a good hard look at your bathroom.
Bathrooms account for 50% of all indoor water use, so making a few simple fixes can pay you back in spades: Using less water saves you money, and it means less water going down the drain and to the local treatment plant, saving the energy it takes to clean and filter that water before it returns to your faucet.
Turn off the Tap
You don’t need to keep the water running while you brush your teeth. Think about how many gallons you’ll save each week by only turning on the faucet when it’s time to rinse. (Hint: WaterSense says the average is 8-10 gallons per week per person.) And no need to wait for the water to get hot before you plug the tub at bath time – you’ll probably need to turn the heat down before it’s full, anyway. But don’t forget: Taking a shower uses about a third of the water you’d need to fill a tub.
Refresh the Flapper
The rubber flapper in your toilet tank doesn’t last forever – five years, tops. As the rubber degrades over time, the toilet starts leaking and usually, you can’t even tell. Replacing the flapper is an inexpensive fix that can save gallons of water a week.
Air it Out
Your faucet and showerhead last a long time, but it may make sense to replace both with new WaterSense-labeled models that aerate the water or create a pulsing pattern that makes you feel like you’re getting a lot of water pressure, but you’re actually reducing the flow by about 30%. That means you’re using less – and heating less – water, which also saves energy.
The WaterSense program, launched in 2006, is both a labeling program for fixtures that save water and an education program to help families find ways to use less water and energy. The average family spends more than $1,000 per year in water costs, but can save more than $380 annually from retrofitting with WaterSense labeled fixtures and ENERGY STAR certified appliances.
Replacing faucets and flappers is usually a do-it-yourself job, but when you want to tackle a more extensive project, contact the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga at www.hbagc.net. Member remodelers and suppliers can help you design your new bathroom and select WaterSense-labeled fixtures including toilets, to save water, energy and money.