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PLUMBING • DRAINS • COOLING • WATER QUALITY
Monday, 25 February 2019 14:49

Choosing a Low-Flow Toilet

Selecting a low-flow toilet
Toilets account for a large proportion of the water usedin the average home. When replacing  existing toilets it makes sense to check the gallons-per-flush to save water. You'll save money on your utility bill, and you help preserve our most precious natural resource.

High Efficiency Toilets

Low-flow toilets, or high-efficiency toilets (HET), have become more efficient and reliable, save more water while providing plenty of flushing power. To be classified as a HET by the EPA, a toilet must use no more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush. They typically have an efficient design that uses gravity to empty the bowl.

Ultra-High Efficiency Toilets

Ultra-high-efficiency toilets (UHET) use only 1.28 gallons per flush. Some models use air pressure for flush assistance in the form of a special air tank integrated into the toilet. This can increase the noise when flushing due to the use of air pressure. They may also require a power connection, and could need more frequent maintenance.

Other low-flush toilets use a small pump within the unit to assist with flushing. While these toilets are sleek and modern, they also require a power source.

Dual-Flush Toilets

Dual-flush toilets, as the name suggest, can flush with different amounts of water. One button releases a small amount of water while a second empties a larger amount of water for solid waste, making them a smart and efficient alternative.

The more complexity and technology a toilet has, the greater the cost of installation and maintenance. So it's important to weight the long-term utility savings against the up-front cost of installation.

If you're replacing a new toilet and have questions about the different options available, give ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning a call, we can help all your plumbing questions.
Water Saving Plumbing Fixtures

1. Toilets

Older toilets use a lot of water. Once study concluded that if all the older, inefficient toilets in the US were replaced with newer, water-efficient models around 360 billion gallons of water could be saved every year. If your toilet was manufactured before the mid-1990s there's a good chance its wasting a lot of water. If you're concerned about the effectiveness of newer water efficient toilets, rest assured, most are rated highly and work well.

Another way to save water with every flush is to install "dual-flush" models. With two options for flush strength you can decide the amount of water that is needed.

2. Faucets

The EPA estimates that faucets account for 15% of indoor water use. By selecting a faucet with the WaterSense® certification you can reduce the water by at least 20 percent. You can also make most existing faucets more efficient by adding a water saving aerator.

3. Shower Heads

Depending on how inefficient your current shower head it, swapping it for a low-flow shower head can cut water use by 50% or more. The standard for low flow heads is 2.5 gpm at 80 psi. A high quality low flow shower head will offer good pressure at both high and low water pressures. Some have flow restrictors that allow you to adjust the spray pattern and pressure to achieve the right amount of water flow for your needs.

4. Tankless Water Heaters

While tankless water heaters won't save a large amount of water compared to tank-style water heaters, they can save water by reducing the amount of time for hot water to be available. Their primary benefit is the energy savings they offer by only heating water when it's needed, not an entire tank.

5. Rain Sensors

Lawn and landscape watering are extremely water-intensive. In many cities, rain or moisture sensors are required to prevent irrigation lines and underground lawn sprinklers from over watering lawns.






As smart devices make there way into every aspect of our daily life, one of the most popular devices for the home is the smart thermostat. Brands like Honeywell, Nest and Ecobee all promise ease of use and automated control over the climate in our homes. They also have the potential to increase efficiency and energy savings by learning when to heat and cool automatically based on household routines.

How much do smart thermostats save?

So how much many can you actually save with a smart thermostat, and are they worth the price premium over a conventional digital thermostat? A study by Nest® and two independent researchers found that customers saved an average of 10 to 20 percent on heating and 15 percent on air conditioning costs.

Because much of the savings from a programmable thermostat depends on the homeowner programming the unit to operate at the right time of day, they are prone to not being used at the optimum settings, either because they are to complicated to program or schedules that change to often, leading to settings being manually overridden.

Smart thermostats, on the other hand, make it more likely that the unit will operate at peak efficiency by automatically learning the household routine. For example, turning up the air conditioning when the home is unoccupied, then turning it back down when it detects that the home is occupied. Additionally, many models offer smart phone integration, humidity control and detailed power consumption reports and money-saving suggestions.

Have questions about setting up your smart thermostat to work with your home's heating and cooling system? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we're here to help.
LWater Saving Toiletooking for ways to reduce your water bill? Toilets are one of the most water-intensive plumbing devices in the home, using as much as 7 gallons of water with each flush. By comparison a low-flow toilet uses just 1.6 gallons. If you aren't ready to replace all your toilets with low-flow toilets quite yet, but want to reduce the amount of water your toilets are using, there are a few easy to install options available that will make your toilets more eco-friendly.

Install an Adjustable Flapper

An adjustable flapper give you control over the amount of water used to refill the tank. It can save up to three gallons of water with each flush and is simple to install. First, check that the flapper is compatible with your toilet model. Once installed, adjust the flapper to get the right amount of water needed to do the job.

Install a Tank Bag

You may know about the old trick of placing a brick to the toilet tank to reduce the amount of water per flush. Unfortunately, a brick can erode over time, leaving damaging grit inside the tank that can wear out rubber and plastic parts. A better solution is to use a tank bag. You simply fill the bag with water and attach it to the toilet tank. By displacing water it will reduce the amount of water needed to refill the tank after each flush. Of course, the amount of water you save is equal to the amount of water you put in the bag, so experiment to find the right amount to effectively flush the toilet.

Install a Fill Cycle Diverter

Because the toilet bowl fills faster than the tank and the fill valve doesn't shut off until the tank is full, excess water is fed into the bowl. A fill cycle diverter can eliminate this waste, saving a half-gallon or more per fill, by diverting water back to the tank when the bowl is full.

TIP: Many utility companies offer water-saving devices to their customers for free, so be sure to check with your local utility company before purchasing a water saving device.
Running a central air conditioner during the hot, humid summer months can take a big chunk our of the average household's energy bill. If you're noticing that energy use rises even more than normal while running your air conditioner, there are several steps you can take to lower your home cooling cost.

1. Fix Air Leaks - A minor air leak in one window may seem like no big deal, but many leaks around doors and windows can add up, causing your air conditioner to work harder. Use weather stripping or caulk around doors and windows to seal air leaks around the entire house.

2. Program Your Thermostat - Your thermostat is the brains of you cooling system. Be sure to program the temperature around your household schedule by turning the temperature up when your away from home. Learning, or Smart thermostats can help you save energy automatically by learning your household routine and automatically adjusting the temperature accordingly.

3. Perform Regular Maintenance - A sudden increase in your utility bill could be a sign that your air conditioner is in need of service. If you have skipped annual maintenance and your energy bill has suddenly increased, have an AC technician inspect the unit to make sure there are no problems.

4. Replace Old Equipment - If your air conditioner is more than 10-12 years old, it's time
start planning for a replacement. While a new air conditioner is a major investment, the good news is a newer unit is likely to cost significantly less to operate every month.

5. Replace Dirty Air Filters - One of the most common reasons an air conditioner will begin to run less efficiently is a dirty air filter. Replacing the filter monthly is one of the most important maintenance tasks you can perform.

Have question about your air conditioner? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help.
Tuesday, 12 December 2017 14:44

The ABC's of Plumbing – Energy Factor

The ABC's of Plumbing – Energy Factor

If you're planning on replacing your old water heater, one of the most important things to consider is how efficiently it will produce hot water. To make it easier for consumers to compare water heaters and select the most energy efficient model, the US Department of Energy has developed a standard for residential water heaters, call the Energy Factor.

As with cars and Miles Per Gallon (MPG), the Energy Factor (EF) rates how efficiently a water heater uses its fuel source. When comparing standard products of the same fuel type, a water heater with a higher Energy Factor rating uses less energy, resulting in both energy and cost savings.

Water Heater Energy Factor

The Energy Factor is determined by performing a 24-hour simulated test on residential water heaters. During the test a measured number of gallons of water are drawn from the water heater in six equally spaced draws that begin one hour apart. After the beginning of the last draw a standby period of 18 hours follows.

The result of the test is expressed as a decimal. For example, a gas water heater with an energy factor rating of 0.5 means it's 50% efficient. It will use 50% of the gas to heat the water, while the remaining 50% is heat going out the exhaust flue.

When comparing water heaters it's important to consider the fuel source. While an electric water heater may have a higher EF rating, electricity is typically more expensive than natural gas. Also, be sure to compare the EF for the same type of water heater, the EF rating for tankless and hybrid water heaters is measured differently than it is for conventional tank water heaters.

Have questions about choosing the best water heater for your home? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning.

How Switching to Energy Star Appliances Can Save You Money


ENERGY STAR® Air ConditionersIf you've been shopping for a new appliance like a refrigerator or stove, you have likely seen an ENERGY STAR® label. ENERGY STAR® is an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program started in 1992 that helps consumers save money and reduce their impact on the climate through better energy efficiency.

The government has partnered with other industry to include not only major appliances but also air conditioners, water heaters and even new homes and buildings. In order to be Energy Star rated, appliances must meet strict energy efficiency guidelines, as set out by that program. Look for this label when shopping for an appliance if you want to reduce your energy costs.

One of the most energy intensive appliances in the home is the central air conditioner, accounting for almost half of the energy us in many homes. If you're replacing a 10 year old air inefficient conditioner you could save $100 on your energy bill with an Energy Star rated central air conditioner. The ENERGY STAR label guarantees significant energy savings and do not cost any more than standard appliances.

When its time to replace your old central air conditioner, ask ABC Southwest for information on the latest ENERGY STAR® units. You'll be surprised how much the savings can add up.

How Much Water Could You Be Saving In Your Home?

Water Savings

97 percent of the earth's water is salt water, leaving only 3 percent of the earth's water fit for human consumption. While water is a renewable resource, the best way to ensure there will be enough fresh water in the future is to start conserving water today.

The average U.S. family uses 127,000 gallons of water each year. One of the best ways to reduce water waste is to use low-flow plumbing fixtures and appliances. For example:
  • A normal faucet will use 4,000 gallons a year when run just 4 minutes a day. A low-flow faucet would reduce that amount by a quarter... a savings of 1,000 gallons of water a year.
  • A washing machine that washes 2 loads a week will use 5,000 gallons a year... while a water saving unit will use 3,000... a savings of 2,000 gallons a year.
  • A shower head that is used 15 minutes a day will use 19,000 gallons of water a year... a low-flow shower head would use just 9,000 gallons a year... a savings of 12,000 gallons per year.
  • The largest source of water use in the home is toilets. If a toilet is flushed 15 times per day it will use 33,000 gallons of water per year. By comparison, a water saving or dual-flush toilet would save over 24,000 gallons of water every year.
The total savings for using low-flow, water efficient fixtures and appliances is 40,000 gallons a year, a 30 percent savings on water bill.
Tuesday, 08 August 2017 00:55

A Simple Way To Save On Hot Water

Even in the warm climate of Southwest Florida, heating water takes up a big part of the average home's utility bill. One inexpensive way to conserve hot water is to install a water heater blanket. Available at most home improvement stores for $15-$20, water heater blankets are simple to install and can pay for itself in less than a year.

You may be asking, can a blanket help when the tank feels cool to the touch? Yes. Because it takes more energy to heat water than air, so insulation will help. Still not convinced? Once the blanket is installed for a day or so, put your hand under the blanket and you'll notice that it's nice and warm. That's heat that will keep the tank warmer for a longer period of time rather than radiating out.

A word of caution on water heater blankets – some manufacturers advise against them because if they are not installed properly they can block controls and valves. So be sure to cut away around controls and the pressure relief valve.
If you're looking to replace your old air conditioner this spring, you may be surprised by how far technology has improved in the last 15-20 years. Improvements to air conditioners include:

Quieter Operation - By optimizing the shape of fan blades manufacturers have been able to made AC operation with less noise. Newer refrigerants enable compressors to operate more quietly.

Environmentally Friendly Refrigerants - Unlike the Freon® coolant used over a decade ago that caused damage to the earth's ozone layer, newer R410A are environmentally friendly and also perform better.

Reduced Energy Consumption - Decades ago it was not uncommon for a central air conditioner to consume 6,000 watts of electricity every hour to cool a typical house. Today, that level has been reduced to around 1,700 watts an hour, thanks to technology like variable speed fans and scroll compressors.

Have questions about central air conditioners? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help answer all your questions.
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