More tips on water savings indoors

DOWNEY - We continue our discussion of indoor water savings this week with a few more tips provided by the City of Downey water conservation brochure, which we have been using as a template for this series.A real concern with any water system is whether or not it may be leaking, and the City recommends three ways to look for leaks. First, to check for leaks at the meter, turn off all the water use in your house (including the ice maker), check your water meter reading, then check it again in 30 minutes. As the City pamphlet so succinctly puts it, "if the reading has changed, you have a leak." Second, the City suggests that you "close the main shut off valve and run the same test to determine whether the leak is between the meter and shut off valve or downstream of the shut off valve." Thirdly, "look for unusual wet spots on ceilings, floors, and in the yard indicating a leak." This writer would add to that list to check under your water heater periodically, especially if it is housed outdoors where you might not normally think to look. This comment comes from personal experience, where a steady leak from an old, deteriorating water heater went unnoticed. The City also suggests the possibility of an instant water heater near the kitchen sink. These devices exist in several forms, including hot water dispensers that require an additional faucet, inline point-of-use mini-tanks, and tankless water heaters. The latter are also available for the whole house. A cautionary note on whole-house tankless water heaters is that they appear to do a better job of saving energy than of actually saving water, which is our focus here. Imagine, though, a small four- to six-gallon tank under your sink which delivers hot water instantly through your regular faucet. We've mentioned before in this series that it can require a couple of gallons to get hot water from your water heater to the shower. The same can be true with your kitchen sink, so it's worth considering, not only for saving water, but also for saving time. Finally, since it's plumbed in-line, the hot water flow will simply continue from your water heater, once it comes down the pipes. Lastly, the City encourages you to "set HVAC systems and water softeners for a minimum number of refills to save water." Now water softeners create some other environmental challenges, as does one other aspect of indoor water use: what you wash down the drain. We'll confront those issues next week in our final column on how to conserve water indoors.

********** Published: February 9, 2012 - Volume 10 - Issue 43