Thursday, December 17, 2009

Money Saving Water Conservation Tips

It is estimated that by the year 2016 as many as 36 states will be experiencing serious water issues. Of course, Arizona is a hot spot for efforts to reduce water usage. As with most areas, our water supply is fixed - there aren't any new sources available. So, we must learn to be more efficient with the water we do have. Only by conserving this limited resource will we be able to sustain population growth which has been a driving force behind our economy for quite some time. The focus for water conservation is sustainable water management - making the best use of what we have to serve the needs of the people who are already here, as well as new population growth for the future. The key to this effort is education and awareness.

In your home, the single biggest water use comes from flushing toilets. This is followed closely by your clothes washer, then shower and faucet use. A surprisingly large amount of water is wasted in leaks- over 13% of average residential use!

There are a number of easy, inexpensive ways to positively impact your personal water use:

Water your lawn less often
Take shorter showers
Turn off the water while brushing your teeth
Run only full loads in the clothes and dishwasher
Install faucet aerators
Repair leaks
Replace older toilets with new 1.28 gpf HET or dual-flush toilets.

You may remember when the EPA mandated that all toilets be no more than 1.6 gpf and that shower heads be 2.5 gpm maximum in 1992- and how poorly they functioned. This left a bad impression in many people's minds about water conserving fixtures. The good news is that technology has vastly improved since then. I can attest to this from personal experience- having just replaced an even older toilet (probably from the 1980's and using 3.5 gpf or more) to the new HET 1.28 gpf model in my own home- the new one works great!

The newer WaterSense shower heads only use 2.0 gpm, and also work really well- the difference is not even noticeable. Another annoying issue that you've likely experienced is the gallons and gallons of water wasted waiting for the hot water to reach the shower. By installing a hot water recirculation system, you get the convenience and luxury of instant hot water AND save an average of 5 gallons every time you shower! If you are building a new home, the cost to install the system is around $200 or less, plus labor. They also have retrofit systems available, which typically run less than $1000installed.

Sensor faucets (the kind you often find in public restrooms, where you don't have an on/off lever) are now available for residential use in both kitchens like the Delta Touch shown here, and baths. These fixtures save water by shutting off automatically... and they are also more hygienic because dirty, germy hands never touch the fixture.

Many local water utilities are making changing to more efficient fixtures very affordable by offering cash or credit rebates on your water bill. In Scottsdale, for instance, a new high-efficiency toilet earns a credit of $75-$100, and new low flow shower heads also earn credit for each one installed. Check with your local utility to find out the options where you live. In any case, your water bill will be lower because you will use far less water if you implement these strategies!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Save 11,000 Gallons of H2O

Did you know you can save up to 11,000 gallons of water every year by switching to a new WaterSense approved toilet?
Kohler Co. announced that eight of it toilet models have been certified to carry the new EPA-designated WaterSense label, including the Escale model shown here. The new designation means these toilets use at least 20 percent less water than standard 1.6-gallon toilets while still meeting strict flushing performance guidelines.

Launched in 2006, WaterSense is an EPA-sponsored partnership program aimed at protecting our nation's future water supply by promoting water efficiency and encouraging design and use of water-efficient products, programs, and practices. WaterSense partners with manufacturers, retailers and distributors to bring WaterSense labeled products to the marketplace and make it easy for homeowners to purchase high-performing, water-efficient products. The WaterSense label applies to toilets, showerheads, and faucets.

I will be attending a seminar discussing WaterSense fixtures next week, and will share more water and money saving tips here. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hand-cast Glass Mosaics - Responsibly Manufactured

A private residence great room created by Sesshu Design Associates uses the Tessera tile in Black in combination with other custom mosaics on the face of the bar to create instant impact and 'WOW' in the primary living space.

A favorite material I use as decorative borders inside showers, at vanities and in kitchen backsplashes is glass mosaic tile. Glass is so versatile, ranging from sleek contemporary to earthy and organic - especially when mixed with other natural stones. One line I use often and appreciate for its sustainable and recycled manufacturing process, as well as their community values, is Oceanside Glasstile in Carlsbad, California.

All Oceanside Glasstile is made primarily from silica sand, an abundant natural resource. Many colors (depending on the "recipe") also contain recycled content that may include pre-consumer, post-industrial, and/or post-consumer recycled bottle glass from curbside recycling programs. Pre-consumer materials are generated during the manufacturing process and typically consist of scrap and trimmings that were never used in the consumer market.

Because of its handcrafted nature and broad range of colors in both translucent and iridescent finishes, Oceanside Glasstile is an exceptionally beautiful building material—an ideal choice for creating unique, comforting living spaces that are conducive to health and productivity, all of which is part of green building.

Glass tile is a very strong building material that is impervious to water and resistant to problems from freeze/thaw cycles. This durability further adds to its sustainability.

Oceanside Glasstile allows custom blends in both the Tessera and Geologie lines, using any combination of their vast selection of stock colors and sizes. The possibilities are limitless meaning your home can truly be unique! All Oceanside Glasstile materials are designed to work together in colors that are consistent across all product lines. You can easily combine liners, decos, and trim from one line with mosaics or field tile from another. The entire Oceanside Glasstile product family integrates to allow unlimited possibilities. Each line embraces the glass medium in a different way. The cost to create your own unique blend is quite reasonable, and delivery times are excellent - typically less than 3 weeks from order to delivery.

Respect for the environment and respect for their employees are principles essential to Oceanside's company philosophy. They provide on-going education, community outreach and other programs for their employees.

Oceanside Glasstile is available through your builder or designer at over 400 locations across the country.

Update: An installation at one of our projects here in Scottsdale, this bar face utilizes a combination of Oceanside Glass Tessera tiles and a custom mosaic from another source.