California Water Consumption
For over 20 years, the price of water has been rising much faster than that of any other utility. Though it’s still a negligible cost for many residents, it won’t be for long. Most business owners are already feeling the sting. Gradually, the state is shifting to a “tiered” pricing system, like the one we use for electricity.
Last year in Santa Barbara, California, water bills for the whole region jumped up by as much as $100 or more, as the city prepared to activate a desalination plant. Restaurants stopped serving water, unless requested. Property owners began to shift to drought-tolerant landscaping.
And residents in the Bay Area and Sacramento regions have reduced their water use by over 20% since 2013! We can be proud of this fact, and yet, we can do so much more.
Be Part of the Water Efficiency Movement
Changing your habits is half the battle. We’re here to help you with the other half. Here’s a little bit about what we do.
Efficient Water Heaters
There’s a lot of back-and-forth about tank heaters vs tankless heaters. Like most home performance technologies, it comes down to using the right appliance in the right situation.
Tankless heaters can work well when the water use is “centralized” in a building- in other words- when the water doesn’t have to travel very far. If you have fixtures located at opposite ends of the house, at a good distance from the heater, you will probably want a tank heater. Don’t worry, efficient tank heaters do exist, and we install them!
Plumbing Design and Insulation
Of course, no water heater will be efficient with leaky pipes, or long stretches of uninsulated pipes. Just as duct engineering is necessary for efficient HVAC, plumbing design is essential to efficient hot water circulation.
Tank water heater efficiency is highly dependent on pipe insulation, since they leave hot water sitting in the pipes. This brings us to another option- one which most people don’t know about yet. And that is on-demand recirculation.
Demand Recirculation Systems
This is a relatively new technology that can be incredibly efficient. Basically, the idea is to deliver hot water only where/when it is needed, without wasting the cold water in the process.
How it works: you can either push a button, or use a motion sensor (the latter is usually not recommended since it may trigger too often). Either way, this activates a pump which brings hot water to where it is needed. The hot water then sits in the pipes, waiting to be used. The cold water that was in the pipes, instead of being dumped down the drain, is sent back to the water heater.
This is extremely efficient, for two reasons.
- You avoid the energy loss from hot water sitting in pipes all day, slowly losing its heat. All the hot water stays in the tank until it’s needed. This is a boost to energy efficiency.
- You avoid dumping cold water down the drain while you wait for it to get hot. Clearly, this is a boost to water efficiency.
All you have to do is push a button!
An average American uses around 40 gallons of water per day just from faucets, toilets, and showers. This doesn’t include laundry, irrigation, swimming, and all the water that goes into producing our food. Honestly, it’s a little embarrassing. These numbers need to go down, and they can- very easily, in fact.
It turns out that we don’t need a large volume of water to perform most of our tasks, if we have the right amount of water pressure. Installing low-flow toilets, faucets and shower-heads can cut water use by over 35%.
And don’t worry, the technology works very well now. Complaints of “having to flush twice” or “can’t shower under this trickle” are a thing of the past. The volume/pressure balance has been perfected to the point where you can barely tell the difference anymore.