Knowing what your carbon footprint is isn’t the only way to start conserving. Knowing your water footprint can also help you learn more about your home water usage, and begin to look for ways to conserve.
Let’s start by asking the question, “how much water do use on average every day?” According to WaterFootprint.org, the average person on earth uses 328.366 gallons of fresh water each year for things like drinking, cooking, cleaning and flushing. Yet for the average American, that figure almost doubles to 655,939 gallons per person per year. While its easy to look at current reservoir levels, or annual rainfall amounts and think we may not have a water shortage within Colorado, what’s also important to keep in mind is sustaining these levels and having enough of a water supply for our future consumption, 10, 20 even 50 years into the future. Your water footprint is a way to show the average person an easy way to think about how much water they use over the course of a year. It encompasses the amount of water required to produce food, goods and services used by you as an individual.
By becoming aware of how much water you are using per year, you’ll also become aware of how important it is to start thinking conservation, and coming up with ways to reduce your own personal water footprint as much as possible. So what are the best things for you to do to begin reducing your own water footprint?Â Start with the obvious. Fix leaks immediately. Purchase energy savings appliances, and put in water saving toilets, faucets and showerheads.Â Then learn all you can about water conservation. As your premier local green plumber, we offer a water use analysis to help you identify leaks and offer advice in the area of water loss prevention, conservation and purification.
For December 2008, the average temperature in Denver was 26.7 and temps even dropped to 19 below zero at their lowest. These frigid conditions mean a lot of work for your heating unit and nowâ€”before the cold sets inâ€”is a good time to see how yours is functioning. Professionals can perform a variety of tests to help you figure this out.
Is it time to replace that old, worn out, energy-inefficient heating system with a new one? Here are some words of advice to help you make an informed decision on what’s best for your home and your budgetâ€” and keep you warm, comfortable and free of the home improvement drama so often seen on HGTV fixer-upper shows.
For starters, you need to decide between gas and electric heating. Gas furnace technology has progressed by leaps and bounds over the past decade. Heating efficiencies have jumped from about 65% to as high as 95%. With gas furnaces, also called “forced air” heating systems, air is heated and then supplied through ducts to outlet grills or registers.
If your home is equipped with radiators, as many of Denver’s older homes are, you’ll need a gas boiler, which heats water and radiators instead of air. An added benefit to having a gas boiler is that it allows you to eliminate one home comfort appliance with a combined gas boiler and water heater systemâ€”a great way to stay within your home improvement budget.
If you do not have natural gas or propane supplied to your home, an electric heat pump may be what you need. Electric heat pumps produce 2-3 times more heat per kilowatt-hour than an electric furnace.
There are two main types of heat pumps: air-to-air and ground source (also known as “geothermal”). Air-to-air heat pumps work fine in warmer climates, but once the outside temperature falls below 35.5 they rapidly lose efficiency, making them a poor choice for Denver’s chilly winters. In colder climates, geo-thermal systems work better since heat is extracted from deep within the ground where the temperature remains constant year-round.
Applewood can provide you with information about the best heating choice for your home and provides installation services to get the job done right. When cold temperatures arrive this winter, you’ll be ready.
John Ward has owned and operated Applewood Plumbing Heating & Electric for more than 35 years. He is a master plumber and recognized industry leader for his knowledge and ethical business practices.Â Visit www.Applewoodfixit.com to learn more.
Times are tough all over. Instead of replacing home items with newer models, you may be joining millions of other homeowners and start thinking of a do it yourself project instead.
Fixing a leaking showerhead
Fixing a leaking bathroom or kitchen faucet
Clearing clogs from kitchen and bathroom drains
Repairing a toilet leak
Replacing fixtures in the kitchen or bathroom
Maintaining the hot water heater
Replacing or fixing the garbage disposal
For any plumbing project, the best way to get started is to have everything you need in place before you get started, and have the time available to complete the project.
As a professional plumber, I end up in countless homes finishing up projects that either took longer than anticipated, or were simply more difficult than the homeowner expected. While cutting costs anyway you can is important, it's also important to fix the problem the right way the first time.
Winter’s just around the corner. Are your pipes safe? Frozen pipes can create a huge mess â€“ and expense. But frozen pipes can be avoided with a little preventive maintenance. And, if a pipe does freeze, you may be able to keep it from bursting if you act quickly. Before the real deep freeze of winter sets in, here are tips for preventing frozen pipes and dealing with pipes that do freeze.
How to prevent frozen pipes:
Pipes that have frozen in the past are obvious candidates for special attention. So are outside hose connections, indoor pipes close to an outside wall, pipes in a cold part of your house and pipes exposed to the cold from below â€“ a crawl space under your house, for example. Make sure all these pipes are protected from the cold.
Insulate vulnerable pipes. Keep in mind insulation helps, but alone won’t prevent pipes from freezing.
When insulation isn’t enough, consider pipe wrappings embedded with electrical coils that provide an outside source of heat. Remember to plug them in when a cold front hits or if there's a power outage, which can occur during severe weather.
Remove hoses from outside faucets. The faucets can’t drain properly with a hose attached.
During severe cold weather, open doors to kitchen and bathroom cabinets under your sinks so heat will help warm the pipes.
Running water doesn’t freeze very readily. During severe cold weather, keep a stream of water trickling out of faucets or spouts attached to vulnerable pipes.
If you have a sprinkler system, drain all outdoor pipes and turn off the water supply to the system. A contractor can perform this work for you and blow out the sprinkler-system pipes with air if you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself.
Winterizing your home or cabin if you’ll be away for an extended time:
Colorado is perfect for mountain get-away abodes, but that also poses some challenges to ensure your home or retreat is winterized properly. For those times when you’ll be away for an extended time try these tips that work in city or rural areas:
Turn off the water supply at the main shutoff valve. This is usually found on the side of the building nearest the street.
Remove garden hoses from outside faucets.
Drain the water heater. Turn off the pilot light and electric or gas supply to prevent overheating an empty heater.
Shut off the furnace or boiler.
Flush all toilets (to empty the tank) and every faucet (to drain water from pipes) in the home, including outdoor faucets.
Empty all toilet bowls by siphoning or bailing and sponging. Pour a mixture of antifreeze and water into all toilet bowls and traps of all sinks, showers and bathtubs. Don’t drain these traps. The water in them keeps sewer gases out of your house.
With a boiler, open all the radiator valves and remove the air-escape valve from radiators on the highest floor of the house. Then drain the boiler. To do a thorough job, use an air compressor to blow water from the system. After the system is empty, open the drain valve on the main supply line. A contractor can help with this if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself.
If your water supply is from a well, switch off the pump and drain it, along with the above-ground pump lines and the tank.
What to do if a pipe freezes:
To prevent a frozen pipe from bursting, turn off the water supply to that line. If you use a boiler for heating, it must have a continual water supply to operate; so don't turn off the main household supply, just the valve leading to the frozen line. If you're unsure how to do this call a contractor.
Try defrosting frozen pipes with an electric hair dryer. For safety, be sure the dryer is grounded and never hold the pipe while operating an electrical appliance.
If a pipe does burst, there's not much you can do except mop up the mess and call a plumber to repair the pipe.
The National Fire Protection Association notes that more than 64,000 home fires were traced back to heating units in 2006. Those fires claimed 540 lives and resulted in injuries to 1,400â€”meaning a good heating system can be the difference between life and death.
Keeping your home safe and warm this winter may cost you nothing more than some preventative maintenance.. Here are a few practical tips for keeping your heating unit in good repair; saving you money and helping you gain peace of mind:
To increase safety and operating efficiency, make sure your furnace gets sufficient air for proper operation. The best way is to nstall combustion air vents between your furnace room and the outside of your home.
Change your furnace filter every other month and keep it clean according to manufacturer specifications. Dirty filters reduce airflow and force your home’s heating system to work harder. Clean filters help save you money on your fuel bill while extending the life of your system.
If your gas burners produce a yellow flame, call for professional assistance. Burner flames should be blue, even though orange and red streaks inside the blue flame are quite normal. A yellow flame means the burner is dirty and not getting enough air.
The area around your furnace should be kept clear of combustible material such as paper, cardboard or paint cans.
Keep informed of the danger signals for unhealthy levels of carbon monoxide. You’ll find plenty of information on the Internet And remember: the best way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is with an annual inspection of your fuel-burning appliances.
A license contractor can do these inspections, as well as inspections of your carbon monoxide detectors, and will replace batteries for free. It’s also important to remember that as of July 1, 2009, all new and resold homes must be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors.
As stated above, home safety begins with you and by following these steps you’ll have fewer problems with your furnace, save money on your fuel bill and add years to the system’s effective lifespan. A complete tune-up and inspection of your home heating system will also help. Furthermore, you will be able to rest easy this winter knowing that you’ve done everything possible to protect your home and family.
John Ward has owned and operated Applewood Plumbing Heating & Electric for more than 35 years. He is a master plumber and recognized industry leader for his knowledge and ethical business practices. Visit us today atÂ www.ApplewoodFixIt.com.