Fix What Exists
Identifying and Fixing Leaks
An average home’s leaks can account for almost 10,000 gallons of wasted water every year1. Typically these leaks are caused by worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other easily-fixed issues. Here are some places to start to identifying those leaks:
- Examine your water bill: if a family of four exceeds 12,000 gallons of water use per month during winter, there are likely major leaks in your home.
- Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.
- Find toilet leaks by dropping food coloring in a toilet tank; if color shows up in the bowl after 10 minutes, you have a leak. Leaky toilets are likely the result of a worn out toilet flapper, the EPA offers a quick video on how to quickly and easily change these.
- Find leaky faucets by examining the washers and gaskets and paying attention to whether any water is found in the basin despite the sink not being used; a leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year. Leaky faucets are often caused by worn out gaskets and washers, Lowes offers a series on how to replace these faucet components.
- Leaky showerheads can be identified similarly, a showerhead that drips just 10 drops per minute wastes more than 500 gallons per year. Many of these leaks can be quickly fixed by applying teflon tape and replacing the showerhead.
WaterSense partners, an EPA program, provide helpful guides on identifying and fixing everyday leaks.
Install Energy Efficient Lights and Appliances
Replacing old lighting and appliances with energy-efficient ones can create major energy savings over the long-run. Replacing old incandescent bulbs with 12w LED bulbs can save you as much as 80% on that lighting fixture over the course of one year2. When replacing major appliances such as washers, dryers, or refrigerators, look for the blue Energy Star sticker, these appliances are certified to save between 10-50% energy compared to similar non-energy efficient models3.
Plant A Rain Garden
Rain gardens can be an inexpensive and low-maintenance way to improve your landscaping and carbon footprint. Rain gardens offer a host of benefits, including flood protection for your home, water conservation, and habitat creation. The National Wildlife Federation’s Native Plants Finder can help you find plants native to your area to include in your garden. Check out Nature Conservancy’s guide for planning and executing your project.
Consider Eco-Friendly Materials
If you’re considering a more serious remodel, think about incorporating reclaimed or renewable materials into your design process. Talk to your contractor about sourcing reclaimed wood for flooring or cabinets, and whether it’s possible to use recycled materials for countertops. Another option is to seek out wood products that are harvested from sustainably managed forests, wood products with the Forestry Stewardship Council’s logo have been verified as being grown in a sustainable manner. Sources: 1. https://www.epa.gov/watersense/fix-leak-week 2. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/save-electricity-and-fuel/lighting-choices-save-you-money/how-energy-efficient-light 3. https://www.energysage.com/energy-efficiency/costs-benefits/energy-star-rebates/