Green Plumbing for Kitchens
Replace Lead Pipes
If your house was built before 1950 the pipes may be lead and should be replaced for health reasons. PVC may be your best bet despite some environmental concerns but it is the standard in the industry. ABS has been used in some parts of the country but due to its problems with cracking and leaking it is illegal in some states.
Save Energy with a Water Heater Jacket
Putting an insulating jacket on you water heater should be your first step in saving energy. Inexpensive and easy to install, a water heater insulation jacket can significantly reduce standby losses of your water heater.
Save Energy by Insulating Water pipes
Water pipes often run through areas where heat is easily lost. Crawlspaces or basements, for instance, may not be insulated and when water pipes transverse those spaces, water loses heat along the way, wasting energy and taking longer to heat up at the faucet. The solution is to insulate all hot water pipes across the entire length, from water heater to fixture.
Save Water by Installing Low-Flow Faucets
Low-flow kitchen faucets use less water with no noticeable decrease in water pressure. The process, called aeration, mixes water with air to increase the force of water flow. Low-flow kitchen faucets should use no more than 2 gallons per minute.
Stop Waiting for Hot Water
An on-demand hot water circulation system will save energy and water by more rapidly moving water from the water heater to the faucet. This pump should be installed in the faucet furthest from the water heater. A remote activation button is then installed in the kitchen.
Filter Your Water
Water quality can be improved simply by adding a carbon filter to your tap and there are many varieties of water filters from which to choose. Each water filtration method filters distinct pollutants from the water so you should find out from your local water department what is in your water before you decide which kind of filter to purchase. If your refrigerator provides ice and water, check if they are also filtered within the appliance or consider adding a filter to the line.
Consider Replacing Your Water Heater
When choosing a water heater, pay attention to the Energy Factor (EF). This is the measure of the water heater’s overall efficiency. The higher the EF, the more efficient the appliance. Look for a model with an EF of at least 0.60. Electric water heaters tend to have higher EF ratings than gas-fired water heaters but heating with electricity can be more expensive.
Note: California “builder model” water heaters tend to be more efficient for a small increase in price. Look for Title 24 compliant models. It may be a special order in different parts of the country.
Another option is a tankless water heater which runs only when someone turns on the tap. Water is heated as it flows through the heater so there are no standby losses. Tankless water heaters result in significant energy savings despite their initial high up-front costs.