Sustainability needs to be the watchword in every area of life these days, as we all work together to undo the harm that the past hundred or so years has inflicted on the planet and strive to make the world a better place for future generations. Those are more than just sentiments – a recent survey by McKinsey found that four out of five Americans are genuinely concerned about sustainability and back up their feelings with their buying habits.
One of the places where we can make a real difference is in the materials we use on home improvement projects. You might think these are mostly concerned with choosing sustainable building materials like wood, and while that is certainly important, it is only the beginning. Sustainability is also an important consideration with plumbing projects. Let’s take a look at some of the top solutions that will help you do your bit to be kinder to the environment.
Copper or plastic? That’s been one of the most fundamental questions for the past couple of decades, and reams have been written comparing the two and outlining the pros and cons of each. We certainly won’t regurgitate all that here, but we will say that choosing the most environmentally friendly option is far from cut and dried, too.
PEX is more eco-friendly than the old PVC piping, due to its manufacturing process. But having said that, it is not 100 percent recyclable, unlike copper. Most agree that this makes copper the preferable choice, even though the mining process is far from eco-friendly.
Anything that reduces your water consumption is boosting your home’s overall sustainability rating. There are some obvious examples, such as using efficient toilets that use far smaller cisterns. Low flow showerheads are also great, reducing the average amount of water used in a shower by as much as 30 percent. You can also get tap inserts that work in much the same way on kitchen or bathroom faucets.
Not exactly a plumbing solution, but we must spare a word for a gadget called the waterpebble, too. It’s essentially a flow meter that sits and monitors water usage while you shower, flashing different colored lights at you if you use too much water. It might make you angry, but it is effective.
The way you heat your water can have a huge impact on energy consumption, and is less controversial than a judgmental gadget telling you to hurry with your shower. Tankless water heating is a great example, providing instant hot water when you need it, and only when you need it.
It’s also worth exploring the installation of solar panels, at least for water heating. Depending where you live, there are likely to be incentive schemes to assist with the cost, but even if not, this is an investment that will pay for itself in next to no time.
Guest Contributor: Alicia Rennoll