Save Energy — Plumbing Fixtures

Indoor plumbing has gone from a welcomed luxury to a required necessity in the home. Water in your home provides a variety of uses. If water must be heated, then energy is used.

Your Home Energy Living Plan

  • Use low flow faucet and shower heads.
  • Do not leave water running when not needed.
  • Repair any leaks.
  • Try to use the lowest temperature possible.
Impact of Your Energy Saving Actions

13% of the average US home’s annual utility bill goes to heating water. Much of this is for sinks and showers. Actions to save energy are generally no or low cost. This provides a good return that can impact your utility bill. If you have old fixtures, adding low flow heads can be significant.

How Energy is Lost

Plumbing fixtures do not use energy, except for hot tubs and whirlpool baths. However, they determine the amount of hot water pulled from the water heater. The plumbing fixtures that use hot water are sinks, lavatories, showers, and baths. In case you are wondering, a lavatory is a sink designed for hand washing only. Sinks can have multiple uses and are used in the kitchen and utility room.

Plumbing Fixture Characteristics

Fixtures have a cold and hot water connection. A faucet is used to mix and deliver the desired temperature of water. Old faucets just let the water flow with little restriction. Bathtub faucets still do this. In 1990s, manufacturers where required to restrict the flow to 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm). The restrictor was effective at reducing flow but it also reduced the velocity. It seamed the water only trickled out. A device called an aerator sucks air into the water stream. This makes the stream bigger and softer. This is great for reducing flow. Low flow aerators can reduce the water flow while still feeling like a strong stream.

Modern fixtures come with low flow restrictors or aerators. Now ultra-low heads are available. Flow rates can be lowered to 1.5 gpm with ultra-low aerators.

All of the gpm rates are for a specified water pressure that is probably not the same as yours. You can easily calculate the flow rate. Place a container or bucket with a scale. under the faucet. Run water for one minute. Measure how much water is in the bucket. Try this for all cold water, all hot water, and 50/50 mix of hot and cold. Some variation can occur.

Energy Solutions Explained

If the fixture was pre-1990, then change the head or attach a low flow restrictor or aerator. Consider ultra-low heads if your cost of water is high.

When at the sink, do you turn on the water and let it run until you are completely done with your task? Try turning off or at least reducing the flow when not directly under the water stream.

The drip from a faucet can be small, but allowed to go on the amount adds up. If the hot water side is leaking, then this will waste energy.

Seldom do you use the hot water full open; you mix it with cold water. The lower you can tolerate a lower mixed temperature, the more energy you can save.

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