Thursday, February 19, 2009

Water Conservation in a Green Home

Water is one of our most precious resources. While the surface of the earth is composed of 97% water, less than 1% suitable for human consumption. Right now, over 40% of our seas are damaged and global warming, over usage, and pollution continue to make the problem worse.

Building a new home presents a unique opportunity to reduce energy consumption which, in turn, can save water. Many times we think of energy only as heating and cooling systems or providing electricity to our homes for televisions and other appliances. We fail to understand how much energy it takes to deliver and treat the water we use every day in our homes. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of energy it takes to treat and supply the water we use every day is equivalent to the electricity needed to power more than 5 million homes for a year!

Two money and energy-saving strategies which can be easily incorporated into an energy efficient home design are:

1. Reduce overall water usage in the home by specifying low-flow water fixtures, low-flush or composting toilets, installing aerators on all taps, and installing low-flow showerhead nozzles.

2. Specify a plumbing system that reuses grey water (wastewater from domestic usage such as dish washing, laundry and bathing) for flushing toilets, watering lawns, etc. (note: some grey water systems require approval by most local building jurisdictions, your architect will verify this prior to design).

By implementing a few simple actions to use water more efficiently, the average homeowner can reduce their water and sewer bills by one third, a significant savings! According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, "If all U.S. households installed water-efficient appliances, the country would save more than 3 trillion gallons of water and more than $18 billion dollars per year."

It’s easy to incorporate energy efficiency in your home design. Start by talking to a green architect about your goals and ask questions about what strategies will work for your climate, budget, and home design.