October marks National Clean Energy Action Month and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Shower Better Month. Good energy and water management helps preserve natural resources and strengthens the resilience of local infrastructure. And this ultimately saves YOU money. That’s a win three ways!
Water Infrastructure and Energy Management
Water infrastructure, including the wastewater infrastructure operated by MetroConnects, moves millions of gallons of water throughout Greenville County every day. That movement takes its toll on pipes, water treatment facilities, and your own household plumbing appliances like toilets, drains, and garbage disposals. In the sewer world, we tend to worry most about what goes into toilets and what goes down garbage disposals: Only the three P’s in toilets (poop, pee, and toilet paper) and no fats, oils, and grease (FOG) down the drains. But one place we can all make improvements in our energy and infrastructure use is the often-overlooked shower and bath. This Energy Action Month, MetroConnects would like to encourage us all to Shower Better!
Showering Better: One Simple Solution
One simple way to save water when showering is to install an EPA-approved WaterSense showerhead. These showerheads maintain a strong spray force and spread, keeping your shower comfortable, all while minimizing the amount of water used. You could save up to 2,700 gallons of water per year! Not only will this lower your water bill, including your MetroConnects volume charge, but it will also save energy in heating the water, cutting costs there, too.
Down the Drain
MetroConnects biggest concern is what goes down the drain. Sewer pipes can easily become clogged when certain products build up inside the system. We don’t often think of our personal hygiene and cleaning products as potential culprits in clogs, but certain items can cause huge headaches. Here are some things to avoid:
- Products containing oil: Products containing oil, including bath bombs, fall into the dreaded category of FOG. We usually think of FOG as a problem for garbage disposals, but bath products can be equally oily. Check your labels: Skip the soak with anything that includes oil, cocoa butter, or other non-soluble lubricants. Try some mild soaps instead that include Epsom salt or baking soda — these types of skin softeners dissolve easily.
- Solids and powders: Some products include solids such as flower petals and even glitter. While pretty, they wreak havoc on the drains. If you would like to soak in the smell of flower petals, place them in a mesh bag first for easy cleanup. You might also run across cornstarch and other cakey powders on the ingredients list. Watch out for these as they can become quite thick when they are wet!
- Clay masks and exfoliating creams: While masks and exfoliating creams can leave your skin feeling silky smooth, they have the opposite effect on your pipes. The muddy, sandy, or sugary material can easily clog your pipes when washed down the drain. Instead of washing your mask off at the sink or in the shower, try to first wipe the material off with a cloth and dispose of it in the trash. Exfoliating creams are a bit more difficult to keep out of drains, so consider limiting their use, and then following up by pouring a solution of 1/3 cup vinegar and 1/3 cup baking soda down the drain to help keep pipes clear.
- Bubble bath: As harmless as it seems, bubble bath can actually be quite a culprit. In addition to ingredients such as oil and colorants, the heavy soaps used in many bubble baths can cause buildup in your pipes. It is best to limit bubble baths to an occasional indulgence and follow up with a vinegar and baking soda solution.
- Harsh chemical cleaners and clog removers: Most household cleaners and clog removers like Drano contain chemicals that do more damage than good. Repeated use can weaken your pipes, leaving them vulnerable to cracks and root intrusion. Use the old standby of vinegar and baking soda to keep your pipes clean instead. If you have a stubborn clog, gently try a plastic snake.
Energy Education Starts With You
We can all be ambassadors for energy and water management — you are never too old or too young! The EPA has excellent resources available on its WaterSense page for both adults and kids to learn how to better protect our water and energy sources. Share with family and friends to help protect our most precious resources!
Help your kids understand the connection between water and energy use with this information sheet. Page two includes an “Every Drop Counts” quiz and a water word search puzzle!ws-ourwater-shower-better-learning-resource_0