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Green Plumber Tips

You can save water in your shower several ways. The obvious one is to take shorter showers, but by fitting low-flow attachments to your shower, you can save an amazing amount of water, saving money and energy in the bargain.

You want figures? OK, a low-flow shower head will save around
3,000 gallons of water for each person every year!

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Run Full Loads


Running your dishwasher or washing machine only when fully loaded will save water and energy.

Cost savings

Doing full loads of dishes or laundry reduces the number of loads, which saves water, energy, detergent, time and money.

Health & comfort

Using your dishwasher and laundry appliances less frequently saves you time, decreases the noise from running these appliances, leaves more hot water for other uses, and means you can time it to run them only in non peak energy periods. You might need to buy yourself a few more pairs of socks and underwear to last between laundry loads, and if you often run out of dishware before the dishwasher is full, visit your local thrift store to stock up on a few extras (or consider a smaller dishwasher unit).

Environmental considerations

Using your dishwasher and laundry appliances less frequently not only saves energy, time and money but also saves precious fresh water resources.

What you need to know


  • Load dishes according to manufacturer’s instructions, and allow proper water circulation for adequate cleaning.
  • Scrape dishes instead of rinsing before loading.
  • The dishwasher uses the same amount of water whether it’s half-full or completely full. Storing dirty dishes in the dishwasher during the day and running it once in the evening will use less water and energy than washing small batches by hand throughout the day.
  • Use energy-saving wash cycles. Most dishwashers have various wash cycles you can select. The energy-saving feature helps you use less water and save energy.
  • ENERGY STAR dishwashers use less water as well as at least 9% less energy.

Washing machine

  • Load the clothes washer to capacity when possible. Most people tend to under-load their washing machines. One large load of laundry will use less energy than two small or medium loads.
  • ENERGY STAR washing machines use less water and less energy than non ENERGY STAR models.


What can I do if my dishes don’t come clean when I don’t rinse them?
Most newer model dishwashers will clean dishes that have sat for one day. If yours isn’t cleaning them, you can wipe them with a damp cloth or scrub brush before you load them, or rinse them quickly using cold water.

What if I don’t have enough clothes for a full load?
If you must wash clothes with a less than full load, adjust the water level setting accordingly.

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Hot water can increase your energy costs

Hot water can account for as much as 25% of a household’s total energy costs. In many cases, showers can be the largest single contributor to overall hot water use in a home, accounting for 15% of total household energy use. There are a wide variety of low-flow showerheads available, including hand-held and designer models.


Replacing a conventional showerhead with a low-flow model is as inexpensive as $15 and is usually a quick and simple job. The payback for installing low-flow showerheads is almost immediate, depending on the frequency of showers.

Cost savings

A family of three may take almost 1,000 showers per year. If you replace your standard showerhead with a low-flow model, you could save 26,600 litres of hot water and between $80 and $100 annually on your energy costs (depending on whether you use natural gas or electricity to heat your water).

Health & comfort

New low-flow showerheads reduce water use without sacrificing the quality of the shower. Many low-flow models feature multiple flow settings.

Environmental considerations

Low-flow showerheads can save you half the water of a standard shower, and they save energy as well. If 10,000 B.C. households switched to low-flow showerheads, the annual energy savings could power 300 Canadian homes for a year.

Remember to also take shorter showers to further reduce your water and energy use.

What you need to know

    • For maximum efficiency, get a low-flow showerhead with a shut-off valve. This allows you to turn off the water while soaping up, and then turn it back on instantly without having to readjust the temperature.
    • Installing a low-flow showerhead is easy. Simply unscrew your old one, take it to your local hardware store to make sure you get the right replacement, screw on the new one and you’re done. For a look at how easy this is, check out the Sierra Club’s low-flow showerhead installation video on YouTube.
    • The updated B.C. Building Code, which went into effect September 5, 2008, mandates low-flow showerheads to be 9.5 litres per minute
    • You save more water and energy by taking quick showers instead of baths. Use an inexpensive shower timerto help monitor and reduce showering times.
    • To determine for yourself if showering saves more water than bathing, plug the drain while showering. At the end of your shower, you’ll see how much water you’ve used and how it compares with what you would use for your bath.


Taking it further

  • For even more hot water savings, insulate all accessible hot water pipes. As a guide, insulate the pipe wherever it is hot to the touch. This helps to reduce heat loss and can keep water temperature 1°C to 3°C hotter than non-insulated pipes. It also allows you to lower your water heater temperature to 60°C and you won’t have to wait as long for hot water when you turn on a faucet or showerhead, which helps conserve water. As well, it’s a good idea to insulate the first metre of your cold water inlet pipes to help prevent condensation and to keep cold water cool.


How does a low-flow showerhead work?
Most low flow showerheads aerate the water and increase its velocity by restricting the flow and forcing the water through very small apertures. This creates a very fine but “wet” feeling spray pattern.

While a conventional showerhead uses 18 to 27 litres or more per minute, the low-flow type uses approximately 9 to 11 litres per minute, with some models using even less.

Are there different types of low-flow showerheads?
There are two basic types of low-flow showerheads: aerating and non-aerating.

  • An aerating showerhead mixes air into the water stream. The air maintains steady pressure and results in an even, full shower spray. Aerating showerheads are the most popular kind of low-flow showerhead.
  • A non-aerating showerhead does not have air that is mixed into the water stream. This type of showerhead maintains a warmer temperature and has a stronger, more pulsating type of spray, giving more of a massaging effect.
  • Many are equipped with a push-button shut-off valve, which allows the user to interrupt the flow of water while soaping up, saving even more.


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Energy Star

Helping Canadians shop for high efficiency products

The ENERGY STAR® symbol is a consumer icon in the Canadian marketplace. It instantly identifies products that have qualified as high efficiency.

The ENERGY STAR Initiative is a voluntary partnership between the Government of Canada and industry to make high efficiency products readily available and visible to Canadians.

NRCan formally enrolls manufacturers, retailers and other organizations as Participants in the ENERGY STAR Initiative. Participants help promote ENERGY STAR and ensure ENERGY STAR qualified products are prominent and readily available in the marketplace and to Canadian consumers.

Partnering with the United States

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) administers and monitors use of the ENERGY STAR name and symbol in Canada under an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Canada became an international partner in the program in 2001.

NRCan works closely with the EPA to develop ENERGY STAR technical specifications for products. It also develops Canadian specifications for certain ENERGY STAR qualified products.

Three tools for energy efficiency

ENERGY STAR is one of three tools that consumers, governments and businesses use to advance energy efficiency in Canada.

  • Canada’s Energy Efficiency Regulations set minimum energy performance standards for energy-using products.
  • EnerGuide is Canada’s energy-efficiency labelling program and rating system for major appliances, room air conditioners and some heating and ventilating equipment.
  • The ENERGY STAR symbol identifies products that have met or exceeded technical specifications for high efficiency.
Green Plumber Tips

Your water heater is probably set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. You can reset it lower to 120 degrees and still have all the benefits.

However, your water heating costs will drop by up to 10% and the environment will benefit from lower energy consumption.