Roughly 1.7 trillion gallons of water is wasted worldwide due to leaks. However, one source of wasted water that often gets ignored is legacy plumbing fixtures. There are a variety of different water fixtures in a home or business that may be kept around for years and years. While they technically may be functional, they may also consume a great deal more water than their modernized counterparts. The end result is residential and commercial buildings pay far more in water bills over time than a single upgrade for a lot of their fixtures.
The silver lining here is that as energy efficiency and resource scarcity become a larger concern, manufacturers are coming up with new designs that reduce the amount of water used without compromising the experience at all. Here’s a look at some of the top fixture options to help you save money.
Also known as PRVs, these valves are set on your main water line to reduce water pressure. This is mainly applicable for residential settings, where your average home’s plumbing can function completely fine at 35 psi. However, many homes, without their knowledge, are using pressure at a far higher level. As a plumber, you should add a water pressure check to your regular maintenance checks, and if you note a PSI that’s higher than needed, you can add a PRV. This not only cuts water costs but also helps expand the lifespan of pipes.
As many as 40% of toilets are older models that use roughly 3.5 gallons per flush. However, these newer, more efficient models can reduce that number to around 1.3 gallons per flush. This is accomplished through design changes that implement gravity and air pressure to remove waste from the toilet without having to use as much water. According to the EPA, this could save your typical homeowner as much as $100 per month in water bills. In addition, this can save thousands of gallons a year compared to older toilets (anything made before 1993, generally).
Another efficient toilet variant is using a dual flush toilet. This enables the user to choose one of two different modes depending on how the toilet is being used. For commercial setups, options include waterless urinals. While these are viable, they aren’t popular because they require the addition of a specific liquid. A better compromise, in practice, has been a low-flow urinal. This can use as little as .125 gallons per flush. For perspective, your average urinal consumes a gallon of water per flush.
Much like toilets, older showerheads are a major source of water wasted. Your typical standard showerhead uses around 2.5 gallons per minute. Upgrading to a performance shower could use around 1.75 gallons per minute instead. This change is accomplished by designs that lower the amount of water that flows through them while still keeping proper water pressure. It’s believed that a single household switching to this could save as much as 2900 gallons of water annually. In addition, this also could possibly lead to lower electric bills. With less hot water used, the water heater doesn’t have to be used as much each day. Best of all, this isn’t noticeable while actually taking a shower.
There is also another variant worth considering, the aerating low-flow showerhead. This mixes water with air to provide a misty water spray for a shower. With this said, it does create a high amount of moisture and steam and isn’t ideal in a humid climate.
Recirculating Hot-Water Systems
These systems have actually already been present in buildings like hotels. However, new variants on this technology are now available for residential water tanks as well. In essence, this quickly sends hot water from your tank to showers or faucets as needed. This not only gets you hot water faster but also avoids waste from the cold water that goes down the drain as you wait for hot water. One additional point here is that this component is relatively easy to install and may qualify you for certain tax breaks. Be sure to look at the laws in your state.
Another major source of water consumption are faucets, making this one of the best plumbing fixtures to recommend upgrading. Many water-efficient faucets work similar to low-flow showerheads, cutting down on the amount of water that flows through the faucet. This is generally accomplished through gaskets and aerators. An aerator is a type of gasket that adds air to the water to cut down on water flow while still maintaining pressure. On average, this cuts water usage from 2.2 gallons per minute to 1.5 gallons per minute. Some faucets also have filtered-water taps that allow you to create your own bottled water.
Buying some of these plumbing fixtures is a great way to help your customers save money on water bills while also showing that you are a plumbing company with a modern focus. With this said, there needs to be a tight balancing act whenever you introduce new fixtures or components to your work. For example, not only do you need to have fixtures that your customers will actually be interested in, you need to make sure the profit you bring in offsets the money spent on the product as well as onboarding/training time for your staff.
The only way to do this consistently and effectively is by gathering as much data as possible on the subject. In order to do that, you need project management software like eSub. How do these tools help? By tracking your equipment and materials, you can get an exact picture of how much it costs you to implement new plumbing fixtures in your business. As a result, you can price out these new features appropriately, helping your clients and bottom line at the same time.