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The Water Impact of Thanksgiving Dinner and How to Dial it Back

It’s no secret that California is suffering from the worst drought in decades. What is a secret is the amount of water that you are about to use when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner. Listen, we’re not talking about all the time you’re going to spend washing your hands between touching the turkey and making the side dishes or the amount of time you’ll send in the bathroom after dinner. We’re talking about the amount of water that is needed to put that bountiful feast on the table in the first place.

We’re Not Talking Paula Deen’s Thanksgiving

We’re going to steer clear of the sensationalism in this piece. If you’d like to see some of that check out the Huffington Post product from last year Here’s How Much Butter It Takes For An All-Paula Deen Thanksgiving. Just as a small teaser – it takes 9 1/4 sticks of butter for her thanksgiving. According to Mother Jones.com, each stick takes 109 gallons of water to produce. So Paula Deen is guilty of over 1000 gallons of water use in butter alone! We’re going to assume you aren’t on board with the Butter Queen and we’ll go with a typical thanksgiving spread.

How is Water Use Calculated?

Before we can really talk about how much water you are using on Thanksgiving, we have to talk about how waster use is determined. You’ll notice as you go on that vegetables have a far smaller water footprint than meats. There’s a good reason for this. Vegetables grow using a set amount of water. Then they are picked and shipped. That’s the whole equation. For meats it is different. You have to calculate in the water cost of feeding and housing the animal as well. So, the cost of producing one tomato is only the water cost of growing and shipping whereas a turkey needs to be fed and housed and processed before it is shipped. We have taken our water usage values from several different sources to make comparisons, trying to use the median number whenever possible and focusing on California based amounts when they are known.

Dishing on the Main Dish

Let’s start out with the main dish. If you are a typical Californian family, you’ll either go with a turkey or ham. Turkey comes in costing about 468 gallons of water per pound, while ham is a more thirsty 576 (if you choose to go with a prime rib roast – the average footprint for it is 1779 gallons per pound!) Mind you, this is per pound. So a 20 lb turkey is going to run 9360 gallons of water!

Now we’ve got your attention, huh! How about cranberry sauce? Everyone has a can of cranberry sauce even if no one in the family likes it. The one can – 1559 gallons of water to produce. Yep, over 1500 gallons for that cranberry abomination that holds the shape of the can.

Sides Are Water Suckers

What about some of the more popular side dishes.

  • Mashed potatoes come in at 2528 gallons for that bowl on the table. To put that in perspective, that’s about the size of an average swimming pool. Add in another 50 gallons for jar or canned gravy!
  • You want the kids to drink milk, right? It takes 683 gallons of water to produce one gallon of milk!
  • Are you having canned corn? Add another 108 gallons per can.
  • Do you have a bowl of almonds on the pre-dinner menu? Add 1.1 gallons of water for every single almond.

Having a Holiday Drink?

Are you having a drink or two? Consider that one glass (8oz) of:

  • tea is only 7 gallons of water
  • beer is 34 gallons
  • coffee only 29 gallons
  • wine varies between 50 and 75 gallons depending on where it is shipped from.

How Do You Dial it Back?

So – what do you do to dial back this potential 20,000 gallon meal? The very first thing to do is to buy local. Locally sourced foods don’t have to travel vast distances over the road and eliminate the water needed to produce gasoline for the trucking industry. 2.5 gallons of water is needed to produce the fuel needed for one gallon of gas. So the shipping water cost of a food can be found by taking the total number of miles of the shipping trip, divided by the average MPG of a diesel truck (13) multiplies by 2.5. Now that cranberry sauce is getting even more water costly as it travels 3500 miles from the bogs back east. The water transport cost of hat can of cranberry sauce is 673 gallons!

Short of having a vegan Thanksgiving with a Tofurkey, this is the best way to cut down your water cost for the holiday. Source all of your foods locally and eat as many vegetables as possible. Need more convincing? Check out these numbers from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

  • Apples – 10 gallons per serving
  • Broccoli – 11 gallons per serving
  • Carrots – 6 gallons per serving
  • Baked Potato – 6 gallons per serving
  • Tomato – 8 gallons per serving
  • Lettuce – 5.6 gallons per pound

To have a water winning Thanksgiving, the key is fresh vegetables and meat in moderation. Cutting your turkey size and getting a 12 pound hen instead of a 22 pound Tom can cut nearly half of your water footprint. If you don’t want to skimp on the bird, replacing the canned vegetables with local produce can still have a huge impact. Keep serving sizes to 8 oz and pile plates high with steamed carrots and broccoli, baked potatoes and a salad with fresh lettuce and tomato. You’ll be just as full and you’ll be saving the environment at the same time.

 

All statistics were pulled from the following resources.

http://sfwater.org/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=93

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/24/water-to-grow-foods-infographics_n_4848161.html

http://foodtank.com/news/2013/12/why-meat-eats-resources

http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2013/11/27/families-learn-how-much-water-thanksgiving-meal-requires/

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/california-water-suck

http://www.gracelinks.org/blog/1143/beef-the-king-of-the-big-water-footprints

http://www.treehugger.com/green-food/from-lettuce-to-beef-whats-the-water-footprint-of-your-food.html

http://www.gracelinks.org/285/the-hidden-water-in-everyday-products

The Practical Guide to Indoor Water Conservation

California legislators have recently been in the news for passing a law that would make wasting water a $500-a-day offense. But California isn’t the only place in the country that water conservation is an issue. Water restrictions can be found across the majority of the Southwest and even as far east as Georgia! With that in mind, we created the Practical Guide to Conserving Water Indoors. While everything on this list won’t have the same impact, every little bit counts, – even reusing your ice cubes to water your houseplants! We’ve decided to divide our guide into easy, bite-sized sections that cover that major areas of the home. We’ll start in the number one area for water use in the house, the bathroom.

Bathroom

  • Check your current showerhead for flow rate. If the rate indicated on the head is more than 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm), purchase a WaterSense labeled showerhead t replace it. If you are not sure how much water your shower uses, try to fill a one gallon bucket in the shower. If it takes less than 20 seconds, you will save water by changing it out.
  • Buy a shower timer or use an alarm to limit your showers to 5 minutes or less.  Every minute you shorten your shower will save you over 50 gallons of water per month. A family of 4 could save upwards of 200 gallons per month just by shaving one minute off daily showers.
  • Speaking of shaving, and other things you do at the bathroom sink like brushing your teeth, turn off the faucet while you aren’t using it. You could save 5 to 10 gallons every time you shave or brush even if you have a low flow faucet!
  • Yeah, Low flow faucets are a thing. A normal faucet can use up to 4 gallons of water per minute. Replacing it with a WaterSense labeled one can save up to 2.5 gallons a minute. Don’t want to shell out $100 on a new faucet, buy an aerator for each one at $10 each.
  • Speaking of shelling out cash, one place where you’d be well served by doing so is with your toilet. If your toilet was manufactured before 1992, you’re wasting water with every flush. Even those toilets aren’t the best. They use about 3.5 gallons of water per flush. New, low flow toilets only use 1.6 gallons. Dual flush models allow you to use a 1.1 gallon flush for liquid waste.
  • Toilets use the most water in the bathroom, and if yours leaks that can make it even worse. Check for a flapper leak with a dye test (food coloring is a good choice). Replacing the flapper on a leaky toilet could save 1000s of gallons every year.
  • Plug the drain when you start filling up your bathtub. Adjust the temperature while the tub fills to prevent losing water down the drain waiting for it to warm. Even better, don’t take a bath. Every bath uses 70+ gallons of water where a 5 minute show could use as little as 12.5 gallons.
  • Have your leaky faucets fixed. A single drip every minute adds up to 5 gallons every day. If you have multiple leaks across multiple faucets or showerheads, this could add up quickly.
  • If you’re waiting for the water to warm up in the shower, collect the cool water in a bucket and use it to water your plants. If you don’t have indoor plants, use the water on your outdoor plants.

 

Kitchen

  • If you are doing dishes by hand, fill up one basin with soapy water and the other for rinsing. This can save 100s of gallons over running water. Even better, use a dishwasher. Dishwashers use far less water than washing and rinsing by hand.
  • Instead of rinsing dishes over the garbage disposal and running water down, scrape them over the trash can. This goes for pots and pans as well.
  • Fill a pan with water to rinse your fruits and vegetables instead of using running water. You can save 10 or more gallons this way. Bonus water savings – use the water from the vegetable rinse to water your house plants.
  • Consider purchasing an instahot water heater in your kitchen. It will heat the water on demand and reduce the wasted water you use while waiting for hot water from the water heater to reach your tap.
  • Consider a drinking water pitcher for your refrigerator. This way you’ll always have a glass of cold water handy and you won’t have to run the tap to get it.

 

General Indoor Usage

  • Keep a close eye on your water bill. An unexpected increase could indicate a hidden leak somewhere in your home. Have your home inspected by a licensed plumber if you see this type of increase with no changes in your daily habits.
  • Look for leaks around the house at least once a month. Leaks can be found at indoor or outdoor faucets, pipe connections and along hose lines. Don’t forget to check behind the washing machine!
  • Only run your dishwasher or washing machine when they are full. If you are in the habit of running them daily, you could save over 1,000 gallons of water a month.
  • If you have a fish tank, when you clean it out, pour the water on your plants. The water contains nitrates that are perfect for the plant growth.
  • Set your water softener so that it runs the minimum number of times necessary for the water you use throughout the day. Most 4 person households can go two days between softener cycles.
  • Washing your dog? Do it outside in an area of the lawn needs watering. That way you aren’t wasting water down the drain.

 

Obviously there are some little things that you can do every day that will help you reduce the amount of water you are using or wasting. The real key is being conscious of what you are using your water for.

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It’s Time for that Furnace Tune Up!

It’s September and time to get your furnace tuned up so you can comfortably enjoy the winter months without your heating costs burning a hole in your wallet. The average cost of heating a San Diego home runs about $800 a year. A well tuned furnace can significantly lower that cost.

What is a Furnace Tune Up?

Your heating system consists of three different parts, a thermostat, a blower and the combustion chamber. The thermostat measures the temperature in your home and activates the combustion chamber and blower when necessary. The combustion chamber provides the heating needed and the blower pushes air through the system to bring it into the living areas of your home. Having each of these components inspected, cleaned and repaired now will prevent you from having a breakdown during the cold winter months.

Get a Full Inspection

During our furnace tune up service, we’ll inspect your system looking for soot or other combustion residue in the combustion chamber. We’ll turn up the thermostat and check for steady blue flames (yellow or orange flames indicate incomplete burning and the potential for dangerous off-gasing). If there is a problem in the burn chamber, we will clean out the chamber and the gas delivery system.

Checking The Blower Motor

We will also clean the blower motor and fan blades to remove any built up dirt and debris to return it to optimal efficiency. We will also make sure to oil any moving parts (oil cups at the end of the central shaft) so everything is in working order.

Good Air Flow is Essential

We will inspect your fan belt and determine if it needs to be replaced. Cracked belts, or belts that show signs of slack will be repaired. We will also make sure you have a brand new furnace filter in place. This is one of the most important parts of the system. A dirty filter can inhibit air flow and reduce the efficiency of your furnace.

Heat Exchanger Danger

Our team of specialists will also inspect your heat exchanger for rust or deterioration. These issues are serious because they allow dangerous gases, like carbon monoxide, to build up in your living spaces. Any problems with your heat exchanger or chimney system will be addressed promptly. Even if there are not problems, we suggest that you install carbon monoxide detectors on each level of your home to protect yourself and your family from potentially deadly gas build-ups.

Call us now to schedule your furnace tune-up before old man winter makes his debut in the San Diego area.

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How Does Trenchless Sewer Installation Work?

A trenchless sewer installation is a non invasive way to replace your old, broken or failing lateral line with a new, seamless one. The process is both cleaner and faster than the old method of digging up half of your yard to remove the old piping and put in new.

Trenchless Sewer Installation

The process is rather simple. We dig two access holes to your sewer line – one at the connection to the city drain and one where the line leaves your home. A steel cable is run through your existing line and a large bursting head is attached to one end. A polyethylene pipe is attached behind the bursting head and then they are pulled through your existing line by a hydraulic motor.

The bursting pipe breaks the existing pipe and pushes the pieces into the surrounding soil while the new pipe fills in the vacated space. Once the entire run is completed, the bursting head is removed and the two ends of the pipe are secured to the home and city sewer system. You now have a new, seamless sewer line that is more resistant to root invasion and cracking.

How Much Will It Cost?

A typical trenchless sewer installation is going to cost between $100 and $200 per foot depending on the location of your sewer line and the type of landscape or hardscape above it. This is still much cheaper than a traditional dig job.

How Long Will It Take?

The project will take a couple of hours from start to finish with the majority of the time spent digging out the exploratory dig holes to thread the steel line.

How Long Will It Last?

Your new pipe will be made from High Density Polyethylene(HDPE). This pipe is corrosion resistant and highly flexible so shifts in the subsoil won’t crack it. This is something that traditional clay, PVC and cast iron pipes lack. And, the HDPE pipe is expected to last about 200 years. Replace it once and you never have to do it again.

How Do I Get Started?

Call the trenchless sewer experts at My Plumber CA and get an estimate today! You can also visit our trenchless sewer repair page to learn more.

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Cosmetic Changes: Bring Your Bathroom Back to Life with New Fixtures

Updating your existing bathroom could be as easy as making a few changes with new fixtures and hardware, adding a coat of paint or hanging some special artwork. Here are a bunch of low-cost ways to totally transform your current bathroom look.

 

Whip the Walls Into Shape

Even though there isn’t a whole lot of wall in most bathrooms, they still set the tone for the space. You can change the entire feel of the room with a fresh coat of paint. Be bold and go with a bright red or green, make it serene with a light blue, seafoam or beige, or take it to another level with a chocolate brown or charcoal. The latter two are great to use with white and gold fixtures and accents.

Maybe you’ve got a larger bathroom. Try adding wainscoating to divide the space into two distinct color and texture zones. There are plenty of styles to choose from to create everything from a cottage feel to something right of a Spanish bordello.

Sometimes paint and wainscoat just won’t do what you need. Opting for a full scene wall paper can make it feel like you are bathing on a sunny beach or in the middle of birch woods.

 

Amp it Up With Accents

The kitchen isn’t the only room that can use a backsplash. Consider installing some glass accent tiles behind the bathroom sink up to the mirror. Maybe even take it a step further and add a chair rail height band all the way across the wall.

Accents can be as simple as a new set of artwork on the wall. It could be a set of three related pictures, a group of small shelves with pots on them or even a few well placed pieces of 3-d metal art.

The largest canvas you have in your bathroom is the shower curtain. Get one that really sets the place off. There are literally thousands of choices out there to choose from.

Do you have one of those huge glass monstrosities from the 1980s. Add a frame to that mirror with prefabricated trim. It takes less than an hour and can class up your bathroom immediately.

 

Step Up Your Storage

Is your bathroom a little short on storage space? Could you use a place to put bath towels and amenities? Consider adding some custom shelving to the bathroom.  Smaller shelves can be used to handle groupings of candles, bath salts, and makeup kits. Larger shelves could hold wicker baskets filled with towels, hair care products, curling irons and more.

 

Fascinate With New Fixtures

The place you’ll get the most bang for your buck – outside of paint – is in the fixtures. Because the faucet and sink, toilet and shower are the three major focal points in the bathroom, changing them will immediately re-invent your space. The best thing about new fixtures is switching them out may end up saving a ton on water costs by doing it.

Get some new hardware and draw pulls for your vanity as well. Make sure they match your faucet. Don’t like your vanity – scrap it and go with a pedestal sink. It will open up a cramped space. Double up by putting in shallow shelving and you won’t even lose storage space.

Sometimes new lights can add an entirely new feel to your room. Not just the type of fixture either. Actually changing the type of bulb can give you different light spectrums in your bathroom. Purchase a natural sunlight spectrum bulb to give you the most natural light.

If you’d rather go for a big budget redo, our design specialists can help you. We’ve done dozens of remodels in the past few years and look forward to helping you with yours.

Lucky Me I Called My Plumber

Lucky Me
Hi everyone, had a problem with our water heater the other day and, lucky me I called My Plumber...
My Plumber CA
Written by: Leslie P.
Date Published: 05/11/2015
Hi everyone, had a problem with our water heater the other day and, lucky me I called My Plumber, they must have sent me one of their best and most knowledgeable technicians. His name was Michael -Mike. Although I was not excited about the bad news, (mind you, no one ever is).... Hahah I was given options and I made up my mind...he took care of the problem and fixed others to help the situation in the long run. I thought it was a bit expensive but, then again, it was not just any handyman that I called. It is a licensed and bonded company that gives you warranty on their work. And since I have had them do work in the past I I even got a lil discount. I spoke with the office manager , Lonnie , and she was great and understanding. P.S. A lil reminder , when you get a chance, drain your water heater, at least once a year. With our hard water that we have in San Diego, it will only give your water heater a longer life.
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