Green Plumbing and Water Usage in Your Home

by Jessica Kane

An ever-increasing number of homeowners in the United States have developed a strong interest in making their residences more environmentally friendly. Towards this end, many of these individuals are focused on green plumbing options and water usage issues. There are a number of key factors to bear in mind when it comes to green plumbing and water usage at your home. 

High-Efficiency Plumbing Fixtures and Appliances

A primary step to take when it comes to greening your home is to consider the installation of high efficiency plumbing fixtures and appliances. If you have older plumbing fixtures in your residence, you likely are consuming two to three times as much water as would be the case if you installed more environmentally friendly fixtures at your home. This includes sinks, toilets, bathtubs, and showers. You will also want to pay attention to appliances like dishwashers and washing machines. 

In the United States, more environmentally friendly and energy efficient appliances bear the "Energy Star" logo. This helps you identify up front which appliances are more environmentally friendly. 

Rain Water Collection

Rain water collection is another step you can take to green your residence. Be sure to check your local laws first, as rain water collection is illegal in some jurisdictions. The rationale is that collecting rain water removes it from the broader municipal or other type of water system. The contention is that doing so can put citizens who do not collect rain water at a disadvantage. 

Rain water collection can be a simple process of placing rain barrels under waterspouts at a residence. When this process is used, the collected rain water typically is utilized for exterior purposes like watering a lawn or garden. 

There are more complex rain water collection systems as well. These involve the use of cisterns and the installation of professional plumbing. The installation of this type of system nearly always requires permits from a city or county governing body. 

A plumbing professional can assist in the design and installation of a more complex rain water collection and use system. Interior use of collected rain water is possible, but attention must be paid to ensuring that the collected rain water is healthy and wholesome. This is likely to necessitate some sort of suitable filtration system. 

Gray Water Recycling

Another step to take when it comes to greening your residence through plumbing tactics is what is known as gray water recycling. Gray water is collected from sources like laundry, sink, shower, and tub drain water. Toilet water is not collected via a gray water recycling system, for obvious reasons. 

The possibility exists to filter gray water to varying degrees depending on its intended use. Common uses for filtered gray water include: 

  • lawn watering
  • toilet flushing
  • residential exterior cleaning

The manners in which gray water is utilized are expanding all the time. This is a trend that is expected to carry forth into the future. For example, depending on the filtration process, gray water may be of use in watering a vegetable garden. 

Although a rain barrel (if rain water collection is legal) likely will not require a permit, the installation of a gray water recycling system is likely to require this type of official authorization. A professional plumbing contractor can assist you in ascertaining what may be necessary when it comes to the installation of a grey water collection system at your home. 

Grey water sources span laundry, sink, and shower/tub drain water, but for obvious reasons, not toilet wastewater. Grey water may be filtered to a variety of degrees, and then depending on purity, re-used for a range of purposes, spanning irrigation, toilet flushing, and potentially other areas. The regulations and building codes affecting grey water vary by state, and are changing, with some states having recently enacted legislation allowing more uses. 

Consult a Professional

The first step in determining what can and cannot be done in regard to green plumbing and water usage at your home is to consult with an experienced, reputable, qualified plumber. A plumber can come to your home, consider the premises, and provide you an overview of what may be possible when it comes to greening the plumbing, and associated fixtures and appliances at your home. This includes steps that you can take to make better use of water more generally at your residence. There typically is no fee charged for an initial consult with a professional plumber.

About the Author

Jessica Kane writes for PlumbersStock, the top choice of do-it-yourselfers and professional plumbers alike for all of their pumbing supply needs.