Editor’s note: The following information is gleaned from a series of videos covering the 2011 Delta Faucet Water-Efficiency Summit.
Educate clients, says Jonah Schein, technical and certification coordinator for new homes at the Environmental Protection Agency. “Start paying attention,” he says. “Look at how quickly you get hot water in your own homes; talk to plumbers and other trade people about how much pipe they’re using; what the diameter of that pipe is, how quickly they’re likely to deliver hot water. We want quality systems in our own homes and in the homes we build.”
Advocate to suppliers, subcontractors, new-home buyers, and remodeling clients. “If you have a passion for this, clients will find you,” says Doug Bennett, conservation manager at Southern Nevada Water Authority. “Water is one of those areas that hasn’t been inundated with professionals. There is a lot of opportunity there.”
Connect homeowners with their water use through metering, for example. A smart meter connects a home to its utility and records water use data on an hourly basis or even more frequently, so homeowners can get a real-time sense of how much water they use.
Talk about benefits and not just features. Right now, water is “cheap.” But using a mortgage as an example, C.R. Herro, vice president of environmental affairs at Meritage Homes, suggests showing homeowners the value to them of saving $10 a month: “The net present value on a 30-year mortgage of saving $10 a month is $7,973. Buyers will respond to something like that; nearly $8,000 is a change in someone’s life.”
Research fixtures and look for Water Sense-label products. http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/about_us/watersense_label.html Keep plumbing runs short and go to PEX piping. You want to minimize dumping cold water while waiting for the hot water to arrive.
Find ways to use gray water, particularly in outdoor water use, and encourage smart landscaping. An irrigation system isn’t necessary in every climate.
Pay attention to leaks: Homeowners think a leak is something they can see. But it’s the leaks underground that they don’t see that have the potential for more damage. “We see brand new homes with leaks,” Bennett says. “Sometimes it’s something simple — a plumber not adjusting the water level when installing a toilet.”
For more information on these topics, click here to watch a video from the recent Delta Water Summit.