When you think about where technology has had the most impact, plumbing probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But, product innovations are increasingly important in the plumbing department, like new products designed to make the kitchen and bath more comfortable, keep living spaces more sanitary or reduce the impact on the environment.
Understanding what new options are available will be important you look to spruce up your home or replace broken or old plumbing fixtures.
When replacing items like faucets and fixtures, most people are also trying to add value to their home. Much of the time they consider projects that will customize their homes and make them more comfortable, too. Often it means starting in the kitchen or bathroom, the two rooms where homeowners traditionally spend the bulk of their time.
Many of the newest technologies in the bathroom and kitchen are designed around adding personal comfort. For example, new products are being introduced that allow users to stream live music to their showers through wireless technology. Some of them are easily installed, like Kohler’s Moxie showerhead + wireless speaker. Others are more difficult, like Kohler’s VibrAcoustic hydrotherapy bath tub, which allows you to hear and feel your favorite music. LED lights are also being integrated into plumbing products. LED technology is used in toilet bowls to illuminate the bowl for nighttime use. New to the scene are LED light rings in sinks that glow red or blue to indicate water temperature.
You may be looking for green products that save resources and money. Environmental products are becoming more affordable and they also save money by reducing water use over time without compromising daily use. Manufacturers are continuing to develop products that meet higher energy-efficiency standards and save water, like the AquaSense Recycling system from Whirlpool’s new KitchenAid dishwasher. It filters the water from the last rinse of one load of dishes and uses it to pre-rinse the next load. It stores the extra water in a tank on the side of the dishwasher without the need to enlarge the dishwasher cavity.
Finding ways to conserve and reuse water is increasingly important, because the cost of water is rising. In some places, like California, the amount of available water is dropping quickly. One way to reuse our water supply is through a greywater recycling system. Most systems use water from showers, sinks, washing machines and dishwashers, which is relatively clean and contains very few pathogens. This water requires very little treatment before it can be reused for non-drinking purposes, like toilet flushing and lawn watering.
Other eco-friendly products gaining in popularity are the tankless water heaters, like the ones produced by Rinnai. Tankless water heaters provide constant hot water and energy savings because it doesn’t have to continually reheat a tank full of water.
Plumbing innovations can lead to a healthier home through a more hygienic living space. Touch-free fixtures are becoming an option more homeowners consider, as they allow users to have a hands-free experience while also avoiding the spread of germs. In the bathroom, a touchless toilet allows the user to wave their hand above the toilet to flush it. After they’re finished, the toilet lid will automatically close without slamming. American Standard is introducing the New Optum VorMax Toilet. It has eliminated the traditional tiny rim holes around the bowl that carry water during a flush. Instead, the VorMax flush delivers one powerful jet of water that scrubs the entire bowl completely clean, but it only uses 1.28 gallons of water per flush. Their EverClean antimicrobial finish inhibits the growth of stain and odor-causing bacteria, mold and mildew on the surface of the bowl.
Green practices in plumbing have also led to a new program from the United States Environmental Protection Act (EPA). The WaterSense program was created to find ways to use water efficiently for consumers, communities and the environment, while helping conserve resources for the future. On their website, the EPA has a description of the program and it even has tools to help you search for WaterSense labeled products.
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