7 Ways to Increase Energy Efficiency in Plumbingby Caitlin Snow February 26th, 2019
Energy efficiency has two big benefits for consumers.
One is to live in a more eco-friendly way. Eco-friendly construction is about building in a more sustainable way by using green building materials, sustainable energy and energy efficient methods. This is a trend that is growing and is worth investing in for your business.
The second is one we can all relate to: saving a buck (or many). Energy efficient plumbing means using less power and less water, which translates to lower bills. Customers are willing to invest more in infrastructure that will save them over time, so being able to provide those solutions is a great way to up your profits.
With those benefits, a contractor can cash in by adapting his or her business to provide green options, so here are a few ways to offer more energy efficient plumbing.
Protect the pipes
This one is pretty basic, but it’s also relatively simple with a great profit margin. Most pipe insulation is foam that comes in cut lengths that simply need to be fitted to the pipes. For tricky areas, there is also foam tape that can be manually wrapped around the pipes.
Low-flow toilets perform just as well as traditional toilets, but are 20% more energy efficient. A new standard toilet uses about 1.6 gallons per flush, not to mention older toilets that can use as much as 8 gallons per flush. A low-flow uses as little as 1.3 gallons.
Though the financial savings aren’t as much of an aspect here, with toilet usage accounting for about a third of a household’s water usage, many consumers prefer this option, especially in water-scarce areas.
Dual Flush Toilet Conversion
A dual flush toilet allows you to press one button for a low power flush that is sufficient for liquid waste and another button the provides a full flush to rid the bowl of solid waste. Since most flushes (3 ½ out of 5 average daily flushes) are for liquid waste, this can be a big difference.
Again, the financial impact of the switch is not huge. But with the demand for eco-friendly plumbing and water conservation on the rise, this is a quick and easy way for a consumer to upgrade their plumbing system. Dual flush toilet conversion kits cost as little as $22, so the profits are ripe for the picking.
High efficiency/condensing boiler
A high efficiency (or condensing) boiler achieves higher efficiency (typically greater than 90% on the higher heating value) by condensing water vapor in the exhaust gases and so recovering the latent heat of vaporization, which would otherwise have been wasted. This condensed vapour leaves the system in liquid form, via a drain.
Right… anyway so they save energy by being better at heating up water. Plus, there is a federal tax credit for their installation and additional rebates from power companies in some states. It’s well worth promoting to your customers.
Tankless Water Heater
There are a lot of benefits to a tankless water heater. There are two eco-friendly aspects. First, the units are longer lasting (20-25 years compared to as little as 5-7 from traditional tanks) and smaller so they fill up landfills less. Secondly, tankless units use less natural gas. This also allows for some savings by consumers, though not a huge amount.
The more relevant direct benefits to consumers are the unlimited hot water, which can be a real luxury for people from a cold climate who are used to a traditional tank. In addition, that smaller size means they take up way less space and can even be installed outside in warm clients.
Solar Water Heater
Also called solar domestic hot water systems, these heaters use solar panels to provide the energy to heat water, in place of the traditional natural gas. Solar energy has been developing for a while now, but in the past five years usage has quintupled in the United States. The cells are cheaper and more efficient, so you need fewer of them to power the same thing.
Unlike some of the other eco-friendly options discussed here, this one actually can be a very cost-effective way to generate hot water for your home. They can be used in any climate, though they are naturally more popular in hot, sunny areas, and the energy source they use – the sun – is free. On top of that, 2017’s tax bill preserved tax credits for solar power, so consumers can save additional money by using them.
Low Flow Shower Heads
Shower heads are measured by flow (i.e. the number of gallons they deliver per minute [gpm]). Water pressure affects flow, measured in pounds per square inch (psi). The greater the pressure pushing water through pipes and shower heads, the greater the volume of water forced out.
The trick will low flow shower heads is to use less water but maintain water pressure. If you can do this, consumers will use less water in the same length shower and maintain the water pressure needed to say, actually wash shampoo (and dirt) out of your hair.
There are two ways to do this. Aerating shower heads mix air into the water in order to maintain a constant pressure while using less water. Non-aerating shower heads use pulses to keep the stream strong while maintaining a constant temperature. Either of these reduce water consumption, making the shower more green friendly and the bill more wallet friendly.
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