Local plumbers promote small steps to save water

March 15, 2012 10:00:00 PM PDT
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants you to think differently about the water you use -- and the water you waste. They hope a new education campaign will give you the tools you need to live green.

Some Chicago-area plumbers are making proactive moves. They are replacing old showerheads with new ones that release less water per minute. They are also adding these inexpensive aerators to faucets for similar results.

"It's small things people can do," said Steven Halbert, John Baethke And Son Plumbing. "That in addition to not running the water when you're brushing your teeth or shaving. Turn it on. Turn it off. Small habits that can make a tremendous amount of difference over time."

John Baethke and Son is the only certified green plumbing company in the Chicagoland area. They are volunteering their labor at a low-income housing complex run by the anti-poverty group Heartland Alliance as part of Fix A Leak week.

"This week is our annual Fix A Leak campaign where we educate residents and homeowners about ways that they can identify leaks in their houses and fix them doing some very simple and easy things like twisting on faucet aerators and checking for leaks in their toilets," said Cary McElhinney, US EPA, Chicago Region.

The plumbers are working in partnership with the united states environmental protection agency, which organized the initiative and the delta faucet company, which donated the supplies.

"On average, households can waste up to 10,000 gallons of water a year, which is roughly what a normal family would be using in a given month," said McElhinney.

Aside from the ecological benefits, they hope homeowners will recognize that saving water will also save them cash.

"Just by doing simple things like switching out a showerhead from 2.5 gallons to 2 gallons can save you about 10 percent on your water bill every year," said Jeremy Cantor, Delta Faucet Company.

The social service agency Heartland Housing, which owns local apartment buildings, is anxious to reap the benefits of the free upgrades.

"It allows us to save like 20-30 percent of our water bill, which allows us in return to put more resources back into our buildings and into our communities. Overall it's a great deal," said Monica High, Heartland Housing.

If you'd like to see how much money a few upgrades might save you, the EPA has an online calculator that allows homeowners to get savings estimates based on the number of fixtures they plan to replace.