Homeowners everywhere are looking for ways to improve the sustainability of their homes and reduce their personal carbon footprint in a movement that has been termed green living. The area of the home that may benefit the most is the water and sewer system, which has led to an increased awareness of green plumbing. Green plumbing is a broad term, but the overall goal of every use of the word is the same: to reduce water usage, recycle water that has already been used and use sustainable materials to do so, if possible.
There are two areas in every home that consume large amounts of water on a regular basis, the bathroom and the kitchen. These areas are most commonly referred to when the subject of green plumbing is addressed. Household appliances, namely washing machines, also make use of water, and there are a variety of commercial solutions to reduce the amount of water used in the washing of clothing and other household items. Those who focus on sustainable living may choose to forgo a washing machine and hand wash items exclusively.
There are a number of things that can be done in the bathroom to reduce water usage. The installation of a low-flow shower head, a low-flow toilet or a dual-flush toilet can all be steps toward utilizing the concepts of green plumbing in the average house. While there are commercial solutions for do-it-yourself overhauls, there are also home remedies, such as placing a jar of rocks in the tank of a toilet to reduce the amount of water that is sent to the toilet bowl.
The recycling of water used during baths or showers, termed gray water collection, is also an aspect of ecologically sound bathroom plumbing. A gray water collection system can be as elaborate as installing a separate collection tank or as simple as taking a bucket into the shower each time it is used. The water can then be used to water plants or for other uses that do not require the direct consumption of the water. Another popular home solution involves regulating the number of times a toilet is flushed, but this is not for the faint of heart.
Ecologically friendly home plumbing also concentrates on the kitchen. Low-flow faucets, water pressure regulators, water heater regulators and the use of dishwashing machines are all steps that can be taken to make kitchen water usage less harmful to the environment. While the use of an appliance such as a dishwasher may seem counterintuitive, when used properly, it actually requires less water and energy than washing dishes by hand.