Four Plumbing-Related Ways To Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly

When most people think about eco-friendly and green living, they think about using fewer chemical cleaners, choosing VOC-free carpet materials, and installing high-efficiency furnaces to reduce energy costs. These are not the only ways to do the environment a favor. Here's a look at four plumbing-related changes you can make to your home, each of which will reduce your impact on the environment and help transform your home into an eco-friendly structure.

Change #1: Install a garbage disposal.

When you send your food waste to a landfill, it sit and rots slowly, producing methane gas that contributes to the greenhouse effect and global warming. When you install a garbage disposal and regularly use it to grind and rinse away your food scraps, you're reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills. These ground-up food scraps are much more easily broken down now that they are small. After being trapped at your local water treatment center, they may even be used to make fertilizer or compost.

Having a garbage disposal installed only takes a few hours, and most plumbers offer this service. As an added bonus, you're likely to experience fewer clogged pipes once you install a disposal, since you won't be washing large food particles down your drain. Food waste won't stink up your kitchen garbage anymore, either.

Change #2: Put a timer on your hot water heater.

Most people use their hot water in the morning and in the evening when they wash dishes or shower. During the day while you're at work, your hot water just sits there in the tank; keeping it hot is a waste of energy. Installing a timer on your hot water heater reduces your energy use by turning your water heater on and off based on a schedule that you set yourself. Most models offer a manual override option, so you can heat your water on days you happen to need it at an off-schedule time.

Change #3: Install a water softener.

The benefits of installing a whole-home water softener are many. Water softeners remove minerals such as calcium and magnesium from your water, and by doing so, they reduce the scaling deposits that build up in your pipes. This means that, in the long run, you'll have fewer problems with clogs and won't have to rely on chemical drain cleaners to clear your pipes. Since soaps and shampoos lather more easily with soft water, you'll use less of these products and will be releasing fewer detergent residues into the environment. Far less soap scum is formed with soft water than with hard water, so you won't have to use as many chemical cleaners to keep your tub and shower clean. Your appliances use less energy when they're operating without mineral residue from hard water, leading to lower utility bills.

Water softening units should be professionally installed by an experienced plumber. However, they only take an hour or two to install, and the money you save on utilities will make up for the initial cost of your softening system in no time.

Change #4: Replace your toilet with a low-volume flush model.

"When it's yellow, let it mellow" is the old adage about reserving toilet water, but who really wants to leave urine in their toilet for hours on end? Installing a low-volume flush toilet is a more sanitary option. This style of toilet operates just like a standard toilet, but it releases less water with each flush. Some models use as little as 1.6 gallons of water per flush, where standard toilets often use about 3.5 gallons. Dual-flush toilets, a type of low-flush toilet, allow you to choose one of two flush volumes based on the type of waste that needs flushing.

If you're looking for ways to make your home as eco-friendly as possible, all of the options above are worth considering. You don't have to make all of these changes immediately, but start with one or two that you find particularly appealing. Over time, you can continue to make additional plumbing upgrades to decrease your carbon footprint even further. For more information  you can contact a local plumbing company, like Rapids Plumbing & Heating Inc.