Blue is the New Green: Water Conservation in a LEED Home, Part 1 Inside

When we talk utilities, energy tops the list of resources people are looking to save. That electric bill and oil or gas bill crosses the mailbox every month, but water is quarterly in Narragansett and in some towns might only come once per year. If you’re on a well you may not ever think about it. But let me tell you; blue is the new green. Our water supply is not infinite.

The cost of water is expected to increase over 10% per year.   By the year 2025, if present water consumption patterns continue, 2 out of every 3 people on the planet will live in water stressed conditions as reported by the United Nations Environment Program.

We prioritized water as a resource to conserve when building our Narragansett LEED home as much as anything else.

Here’s the list from our home project of how we are conserving water:

1. Toilets – We installed 1.1 over 1.4 or more normal 1.6 gpf high efficiency toilets. That’s a savings of half a gallon of water for every flush. We have four family members and a full time babysitter at home every day.  We host family gatherings at our house and manage to have a revolving door of summer guests. Ashley practically lives with us enough that if I could carry her as a dependent I would.  With an average flush rate of 10,000 flushes per year,  we will save 23,800  gallons of water per year when compared to a 3.5 gallon toilet (pre-1992) or 8,200 gallons compared to a 1.6 gallon toilet?

2. Faucets: Whether in the kitchen or bath, we didn’t discriminate. Every faucet we have is 1.5 gpm. This is the lowest flow faucet you can buy today. All of our faucets meet the EPA WaterSense specification and come from Kohler.

3. Showerheads: Again, all products of Kohler and all meeting the EPA Water Sense requirements, every showerhead, including our outdoor shower are 1.75 gpm. They are engineered for maximum aeration so shower takers (of which I am not a huge fan) gloriously claim they maintain pressure without feeling like you are being sprayed by house or only getting that trickle of water which makes it impossible to get the soap out of your six year old’s tremendously thick hair.

4. Washing Machine: Everyone laughs at me about the fact that we are going for a LEED point for our washing machine but what can I say it saves water. The Whirlpool Duet front loading steam washer saves the most amount of water of any washing machine in its category. It provides more than a dozen settings so you can wash your clothes correcting and the machine figures out how much water you need. Now if only it put them in the dryer. It’s coming, just wait.

5. Dishwasher and Dishdrawers – Some people might accuse us of being wasteful because we have more than one dishwasher, but I completely disagree. Our dishwasher and dishdrawer combination is designed for the job at hand. If you’ve never had them, dishdrawers are amazing additions to your kitchen, easily concealed, compact, efficient and quiet, this is the second time we’ve installed Kitchen Aid dishdrawers in a home project. The beauty of them is how you can use them to conserve energy and water by washing full loads that are small. If I know the kids are only going to be eating at home for the day, then I can load the dishdrawer and not the big dishwasher. Instead of handwashing all our wine glasses after a big dinner party, they all go together in one dishdrawer. The new Whirlpool dishwasher will be our main family sized dishwasher for those cooking at home nights. Big enough to fit the days dishes plus the night’s cookware, and boasting an ENERGY STAR rating, it will handle anything our family throws at it.

This is an overview of what we’ve done inside the house, in my post tomorrow I am going to overview our exterior water conservation plan.

posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter :  newscaster

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