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Thu, Sept. 19

Save 500 gallons of water while brushing your teeth... and more tips

Q: We want to conserve on water usage. What are some easy steps to conserve in the bathroom?-Lucy and Jeff, Prescott Valley

A: Water is our most precious resource and providing water is one of the biggest challenges we face throughout the world. Did you know that Americans use more water per person that any other country? On average, we each use about 100 gallons of drinking water per day, and almost all of that is in the bathroom.

Toilets made before 1992 use more than three gallons of water per flush. There are new and improved toilets that now use 1.6 gallons of water per flush. By just making this simple switch, you can save 4,000 gallons of water per year. The City of Prescott offers rebates for switching out toilets to low-flush.

If you are not ready to switch out your toilet, you can always go with the old brick-in-the-tank trick or water displacement device, as it is called. You can also use a half-gallon plastic jug, put some gravel or sand in the bottom and then fill it with water and place the jug in the tank. These devices should save approximately half a gallon of water per flush.

There is the low-flow showerhead that can be installed. These devices can save approximately three gallons of water every minute, which equates to approximately 11,000 gallons of water per year per person taking a daily 10-minute shower.

There are low-flow fixtures on the market that will help you conserve. Check into hot water recirculation pumps and systems, especially if you have to wait more than a few seconds for hot water to reach your faucet. These devices keep hot water moving through the pipes so it is ready on demand.

Remember to turn the water off while you brush your teeth - this can save 500 gallons a year for every person brushing teeth in your home.

And, last but not least, adding an aerator on every faucet can save thousands or more gallons of water by reducing the flow of water to less than 2 gallons a minutes.

Q: Tell us about solar power. We are relatively new to the area and want to know the thoughts of YCCA.-Dick and Jean, Prescott

A: So you want to harness the sun and soak up the rays. A home can soak up solar energy through rooftop panels - one set of panels that heats water and another set that converts sunlight to electricity - or through your south-facing windows on your home.

It seems that more and more buyers are asking for solar energy as part of their home package. With the government incentives, solar applications are more affordable than ever. It is important to do solar right.

It is not a matter of hanging panels on your home.

The house must be air-sealed and insulated well enough to use very little heat and air conditioning. It should also have energy-efficient appliances, lighting and mechanical systems that reduce the demand for hot water and electricity. It is important to integrate all aspects of energy conservation into your home before you consider integrating solar. It is important not to forget the "building envelope" also makes a difference, such as sealed duct work, insulation and air sealing, Low-e windows, programmable thermostats, energy-efficient ceiling fans and appliances and water-conserving toilets and plumbing.

Our plumbing contractors have stated that solar for hot water seems to be a popular choice, because quite often you can cut your water heating costs by 50-80 percent. And, with the state and federal incentives, the cost of a system can be cut in half and even more. Arizona's renewable energy incentives go a long way to making solar attractive for buyers. One can expect approximately a 20-plus percent return on their investment.

Q: I want to apply for a rebate from the City of Prescott for replacing my turf with synthetic turf. What type of synthetic turf should I look for?-Clint in Prescott

A: The synthetic turf of putting greens outfitted with windmills and dinosaurs is long gone. There is a host of newly improved products on the market, and synthetic turf is the answer to some difficult landscape situations. It is also intriguing from an environmental and water conservation standpoint.

First ask yourself: What is the problem you are trying to solve? Are you looking for a golf green, play area, pet area or just some green? There are several products on the market that would fit these applications. Synthetic turf products have various lengths, thicknesses and density of fibers.

Newcomers to the synthetic turf market should visit clients who have had synthetic turf installed for a year or more. Look at the product, how it is anchored and the appearance.

Anytime is the right time to install synthetic turf and, if you are considering removing grass, the City of Prescott at this time is offering rebates for turf removal. Synthetic turf is very environmentally responsible, considering 60 percent of all water use in the United States goes into watering lawns.

Yavapai County Contractors Association (YCCA) is a professional association representing licensed, bonded and insured contractors, suppliers, distributors and business entities. YCCA is your local resource for all of your construction, building, sustainability and basic technology needs. Don't start without us!

YCCA is pleased to answer your questions and assist you in obtaining information from local reliable companies and business owners. Call YCCA for more information on hiring a contractor at 778-0040. Submit questions and concerns to ycca@cableone.net or through www.ycca.org and watch for your answer in the Friday real estate section of the Daily Courier.

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