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Green and sustainable plumbing options

Last Updated Jan 20, 2017 · Written by Kat Tate


Green plumbing simply means sustainable. It’s a way of reducing the energy impact of your property’s plumbing – and perhaps saving a few dollars in the process.

But what exactly is green plumbing? What are some sustainable plumbing solutions you can use in your home? And how are they installed? Here we have the lowdown, facts, stats and practical info about green plumbing.

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What’s involved in a green plumbing system?

When we talk about sustainable plumbing, we’re talking about the entire system end-to-end. That’s the pipes, fixtures and equipment – all the essentials to get the system running smoothly.

So what makes it ‘green’ as opposed to standard plumbing gear? Generally, the parts are made to be low-flow, low-toxic, ethically sourced and produced and made locally. Together, they become a system that can reduce your environmental impact – and water and waste.

So it’s not just the reduced impact of the system itself. It’s also about less impact on the external environment as a whole. And that’s something we can and should all get behind. In fact, there are calls to make green plumbing standard in new builds and renovation projects.

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What sustainable plumbing options can you use?

Le’s now look at how you can save water, waste, energy and money by making a few simple switches. Popular green plumbing solutions include:

  • Installing a ‘green’ system when building or renovating
  • Water-efficient toilet, also known as dual flush. This uses a split flush button, so you can choose the amount of water depending on the, err, job.
  • Water-saving cistern: this is a device put in the cistern to reduce water. It can save up to 5000 litres a year! Best of all, they’re often free.
  • Replace taps with low-flow taps
  • Upgrade your dishwasher and washing machine to a low-flow, high-efficiency model
  • Repair leaky taps
  • Fix broken and leaking pipes
  • Use a water-saving showerhead
  • Divert rain run-off into the garden, and save it from slipping down the drain

You can also adopt some smart practices, like:

  • Use less water on the garden – and don’t let the sprinklers just run
  • Reduce your time in the shower, using a special shower timer
  • Turn the tap off when brushing your teeth
  • Do shorter, eco clothes washes

Hire a sustainable plumber

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Enviroplumbing is becoming a ‘hot’ trade, as we all look to save money and resources. A professional, certified enviroplumber (also known as a sustainable plumber) is qualified to advise you in the best sustainable plumbing practices. They’ll make it simple to switch to green solutions. And you can be assured they have to work to a strict code of practice.

Try water harvesting

Another smart solution is water harvesting. Rainwater on the roof is pooled into a water tank. It’s stored there so you can use it anytime you need. And it can be hooked up to the plumbing, so you use the supply to flush the toilet or water the garden. It’s a great, free way to save water.

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Install a greywater system

Greywater is one of the best ways to adopt green plumbing practices and save bucketloads. Rather than wasting fresh water, the system uses greywater which is used water from things like the sink, shower and washing machine. Once connected, the system uses the greywater to flush the toilet or water the garden.

Another great idea is using an integrated toilet suite. This is where the sink is attached to the top of the toilet tank. When you flush, fresh water flows from the tap to wash your hands. That greywater then goes into the cistern. This is a great option if you can’t install a greywater system on your property – and is particularly suited to a small bathroom as it takes up far less space than a separate toilet and sink.

How much can you save?

Let’s look at a few facts and figures. Don’t worry, this stuff is interesting!

The average Australian household uses around 900 litres of water. Every. Single Day. That’s a lot of water down the drain. On top of that, around 150 litres of water per person is used each day at work.

While it’s tricky to calculate the exact amount of water used in household plumbing, we can look at individual parts of the plumbing system and see what can be saved bit by bit.

Let’s start with the humble toilet. Just one flush uses 12 litres of water! Here are some other numbers to consider:

  • 10-minute shower: 200 litres
  • Washing machine load: 150 litres
  • 1-hour garden sprinklers: 1000 litres of water
  • Washing the car: 100 litres
  • Brushing your teeth with the tap on: 5 litres
  • Bath: 100 litres
  • Dishwasher load: 50 litres
  • Drinking, cooking and cleaning per person: 10 litres
  • Turning on the bathroom tap: 5 litres
  • Hosing down the drive: 100 litres

(source)

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Incredibly, we’re using around 55% more water than we did 25 years ago. That’s a staggering increase!

So what can you save switching to green plumbing solutions. Something like:

  • Dual flush toilet: 25% of water
  • Water-saving cistern: 20-50% of water
  • Water-saving bath: up to 28%

As well, switching to a water-saving showerhead could save thousands of litres each year. And one source says that if we all took shorter showers by using a timer, we’d have enough water to supply 1 million homes every day! (source)

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