What Does Being Green Have to Do With Plumbing?

Green plumbing is a whole new way of conserving energy as it relates to water usage. So many people talk about being "Green" these days, and at George Salet Plumbing, we want you to know about green plumbing and why it is so important. We all know that our natural resources are limited in California, especially water, but did you know that conserving water also helps with air pollution and conserving our other resources like electricity, coal, gas, and diesel? According to the California Energy Commission, California’s water-energy relationship is critical.

This is because water-related energy use consumes 19 percent of the state’s electricity, 30 percent of its natural gas, and 88 billion gallons of diesel fuel every year – and this demand is growing. This means that every gallon of water you don't use cuts down on the fossil fuels used in conjunction with water consumption. In effect, using less water also equals less air pollution. So green plumbing is really about using energy- saving appliances, low-flow fixtures, and a little common sense when it comes to using water. If everyone in America would take advantage of new green plumbing innovations, it is estimated that we could prevent 91 million tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere every year!

Currently, the average family of 4 uses 116,000 to 175,000 gallons of water a year, so in our part to help the environment, we wanted to give you a few green plumbing ideas and facts that we have put together to show you how to conserve energy without giving up personal comfort. Our goal at George Salet Plumbing is to introduce you to new green plumbing technology that provides the same or superior comfort level as traditional plumbing products, and also saves you money and the planet at the same time!

Toilets Use 26% of Water in the Household

Did you know the average person uses the toilet a minimum of 2.5 times a day? This is a good reason to think about installing a low-flow toilet. Originally, low-flow toilets had their problems, but new low flow toilets have a powerful flush and save 70% or 3.72 gallons of water over their 5-gallon counterparts. That means a family of 4 that upgrades to a low-flow toilet from a 5-gallon toilet would save 13,392 gallons of water per year. With new low-flow toilets, you don't have to give up on flush power; and in fact, low flow toilets will fill up sooner, are generally quieter and look nicer than older toilets. You will also save money on your water and sewer bill for as long as you own the toilet.

Click here to check out our complete line up of low-flow toilets.

Laundry Uses 22% of Water in the Household

This is why it's important when you buy a new washer and dryer to make sure they are ENERGY STAR approved. Also, think about buying a front loader washing machine because they use a lot less water and are easier on your clothes. However, the most important thing to do is always wash full loads! A way to do this is to keep a load of laundry by the washer. That way, when you have to wash a single item, you can throw the other load in as well. This saves a lot of water over the course of an entire year. New technology will also soon let you recycle your washing machine water for use in toilets and for irrigation if you have a yard.

Showers Use 17% of Water in the Household

Everyone loves a long hot shower, but it can really cost you a bundle with a non-restricted shower head. However, a quality low-flow showerhead will feel good at both high and low water pressures. Some have flow restrictors that can be reversed or removed to allow more water through on low-pressure lines, allowing you to achieve the right amount of water flow for your water pressure. Others have restrictors that work automatically. For example, Teledyne Water Pik offers one highly rated "Shower Massage" showerhead that automatically senses the available water pressure and adjusts to deliver 2.5 gallons per minute.

Showerheads are measured by flow, which is the number of gallons they deliver per minute (gpm). Flow is affected by water pressure, measured in pounds per square inch (psi). The greater the pressure pushing water through pipes and showerheads, the greater the volume of water forced out. Water pressure on the high side — 80 psi, for example — will push a greater amount of water through a showerhead than low water pressure, say 20 psi. This same principle is in effect when you don't turn on the water full blast. Water pressure varies from community to community and even from house to house.

A few years ago, showerheads delivered about 5 to 8 gallons per minute (gpm) at 80 psi. The current standard for low-flow heads is 2.5 gpm at 80 psi. Some showerheads deliver only 1.6 gpm. It's easy to judge your present showerhead's flow rate. Just hold a gallon container under the head and clock the time it takes to fill it. If it fills up in 15 seconds, the flow rate is about 4 gpm. If it's full in 10 seconds, the flow rate is closer to 6 gpm. With a low-flow head, it should take 24 seconds or more.

Now, if you install a low-flow shower head rated at 2 gallons per minute you can save 6 gallons over a standard head or 36 gallons over old or modified shower heads. New shower head technology has given us the feel of high volume shower heads without the cost. Remember, you not only save on the cost of water, you also save on the cost of heating the water for your shower.

If you need help with a 'green plumbing' bathroom remodel, give us a call for a free estimate today!

Faucets Use 16% of Water in the Household

Most new faucets use 2.25 gallons a minute, but you should consider installing a .5 gallon flow restrictor in your bathroom. Think about it. How much water do you need to brush your teeth or wash your hands? Also, by turning off the water from the time you start actually brushing to the time you rinse will save about 300 gallons a year per person! As well, if you need hot water from your bathroom sink to shave, you don't have to run the water until it gets hot. Give us a call and we can tell you about a recirculation system or a point-of-use water heater that will have the water hot within seconds. We can also install sensor faucets which turn off automatically whenever they aren't in use.

Leaks Use 14% of Water in the Household

It's hard to believe that 14% of the water used in households is due to leaks in the plumbing. Toilets are the biggest culprits, with faucets and showers being close behind. Even irrigation systems that leak can be a problem. Another waste of water is old bathtub spouts that don't fully stop when the water is also running during a shower. That's water that you are watching go directly down the drain without even getting to enjoy it!

Caution: Most shower heads will drip for up to two hours before stopping. To measure the amount of water your shower head is wasting, put a bowl under the shower head or tub spout after a shower. If it has more than a cup and a half of water in it, you have a problem! All of these leaks can cause huge water bills. If you fix a drip like this, however, you can save up to 391 gallons a year.

Whether you already have a low-flow toilet or not, always make sure your toilet is operating efficiently. A leaking toilet can waste thousands of gallons of water a day!! That's right, thousands. Two of the tell-tale signs of a leaky toilet are: 1) the toilet sounds like it's flushing by itself or 2) the water comes on in the middle of the night by itself.

So if you have a leak or get a large, unexpected water bill, you need you give us a call!

Baths Use 2% of Water in the Household

The simple pleasure of a relaxing bath is even better when you are saving water. Fill up the tub, get in, and enjoy! To save hot water, don't leave the hot water running; just turn it on to heat up the bath up as needed, and turn it off again when the water is reheated.

Dishwasher uses 1% of Water in the Household The most important thing to do is always run full loads! Pre-rinsing dishes before running them throught the dishwasher uses the same amount of water as washing the dishes twice, so only do this if absolutely necessary. If you always have to pre-rinse, it may be time for a new dishwasher! Always make sure that a new dishwasher is ENERGY STAR approved.

Other uses for water account for 2% of water use in the household so always use common sense and make sure that when you use water, you use it wisely and sparingly!

Heating Water

There are four major ways to heat water today and each one has its advantages and its disadvantages. The following is a brief overview of each:

Solar Water Heating
Solar water heating is the most energy efficient way to heat water. Systems range from the basic tank which is mounted on the roof and painted black to more sophisticated systems which make use of water running through vacuum tubes in a panel. While Solar is the most energy-efficient way to heat water, the major drawback is that when there is no sun you may not have hot water. It is also possible to us all of the hot water and have to wait for more. However, most systems have some sort of back up for rainy day and high usage days, and these solar powered hot water systems are always being improved.

Electric Water Heating
Electric water heating is nearly 100% efficient, meaning that the heating value of the electricity is transferred 100% to the water. This may sound great in theory, but electricity is expensive when compared to natural gas and the process of heating water by electricity takes a long time. Electric water heaters that are capable of supplying hot water to a whole house or apartment normally have a tank that must be insulated to prevent heat loss.

Tankless Gas Water Heating
Tankless gas water heating (or sometimes called on-demand water heating) works by flowing water through a heat exchanger or copper tube that is heated by a burner. Modern tankless water heaters can be up to 98% efficient. A tankless water heater, when properly sized can provide an endless stream of hot water, and when it is not in use, uses very little energy. On average, a tankless water heater can save up to 35% off of heating costs if installed correctly. The downside to a tankless water heater is the cost of installation, and units need to be cleaned every year or two depending on water quality and usage.

Tank type Gas Water Heating
Tank type gas water heaters are about 62% efficient, however, some Hybrid units can be as efficient as 98%. New gas tank type heaters are more environmentally friendly due to a new burner that reduces NOX emissions by up to 35%. Gas tank type water heater advantages are simplicity in design, inexpensively fueled, and are relativity inexpensive compared to other forms of water heating. The big disadvantage to the gas tank type heater is their limited capacity, lower efficiency, and the time it takes to heat the water; although they are not as slow as electric.

So What Type of Water Heater Should I Get?

The type of water heater that is right for you depends on what your hot water needs are, where the water heater is to be located, your life style, and of course, your budget. If you have questions or would like a free estimate, please email or give us a call for more information today.

Any Tips on Staying "Green"?

There are many other measures that you can take in your home as well to be more green:

  • Install a water filter and drink from reusable bottles or glasses. Commercial institutions might consider a hydration station that not only filters the water, but disinfects the water when dispensed.
  • Be sure to make sure your dryer vent is clean. A dryer vent that is clogged with lint and other stuff not only uses more energy to dry the clothes, but can be a fire hazard.
  • Install a garbage disposal. A garbage disposal is green and actually gets 1 credit point for leeds building points for green building. A garbage disposal can also help with the amount of waste that goes to landfills. There are even newer model garbage disposals that run on water, so no electricity is used.
  • Install copper piping. Green plumbers know that copper piping is the natural choice for green plumbing because it is long-lasting, maintenance free, and a natural material that has been used for centuries to carry potable water. Copper piping is usually guaranteed to last for fifty years, which means that it will almost never need to be replaced.
  • Install smart irrigation products that measure the water in the soil and adjust watering time to suit the need of the soil.
  • Recycle everything you can.
  • Upgrade your heating system to the most efficient model possible.
  • Upgrade your thermostat.
  • Turn your computer off at night.
  • Buy a coffee pot that has a thermal decanter.
  • Use low-voc paints when painting.

What Does George Salet Plumbing Do for the Environment?

At George Salet Plumbing, we are known for skilled, clean, and honest plumbers; and clean means we don't leave an environmental mess for our children to clean up. We recycle everything we can including dead water heaters, scrap metals, paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, and printer ink cartridges. We can also recommend manufacturers who make their bathroom and kitchen products form materials that are 100% recyclable materials. We don't use chemical drain cleaners or other harsh chemicals. We use lead-free products when soldering copper piping and soon will use lead-free faucets. Our trucks are always fully stocked, so we can have the parts we need to do the job 92% of the time; saving your time, our gas, and the environment from more exhaust pollutants.

About George Salet Plumbing

Green plumbing is a serious part of the conservation effort in the San Francisco Bay Area, and George Salet Plumbing has been there to provide green plumbing services since 1979. We provide low-flush toilet installation, low-flow shower installation, tankless water heater installation, and electronic or hands free faucets for water conservation. We also install eco-friendly copper piping for cleaner potable water and we have an incredible amount of green plumbing solutions for your home and business. If you are interested in switching to green plumbing, give us a call. We can install green plumbing fixtures and fittings throughout your entire home or business. Not only will they save you money on your water bill and help the environment, they may get you a rebate from the government as part of their plan for water use reduction. San Francisco Green plumbing is available from George Salet in Pacifica, Burlingame, Daly City, Colma, Brisbane, South San Francisco, and San Bruno in San Mateo County.