Dear Debbie: We bought a renovator last year and are renovating the kitchen and bathrooms this summer. So many decisions. We try to be eco-smart when it comes to faucets, toilets, and showers, but we’re concerned that the drop in water isn’t giving us a very good return. And it is also more expensive. What do you think? -Marcel
Dear Marcel: Conserving water is one of the biggest challenges today. Most of us who live in North America are just not used to the idea that there is no limitless supply. I understand your concerns about performance, but with the innovative work done by environmentally conscious companies that make plumbing products, there are some great options that meet your demands and save significant amounts of water. By sticking with your existing (old) plumbing, you can save water by taking shorter showers, turning off the water while brushing your teeth, and being mindful of how often you turn on the faucet. While this is useful, it is not enough. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program, huge amounts of water will be saved by adopting water-efficient devices and technologies.
When purchasing your devices, look for the WaterSense label and discuss the quality of performance with knowledgeable staff. Buying high-performance, water-efficient products will be the best investment you can make. Here are some products from Kohler (www.kohler.com) that will help you save water: The Sensate kitchen faucet features non-contact control, moving your hand or a utensil under the nozzle opens or closes the water, so no waste. Its Purist kitchen faucet has a low flow aerator option and a spray pause feature to run off the sink. For your bathroom, look for a toilet that has high-performance flush options such as dual flushes. Personalize your shower with Kohler’s digital DTV interface. It allows you to adjust spray patterns and water temperature. To help save water, this interface has a pause button to stop the water flow for up to two minutes, and you can also adjust the duration of the shower.
Dear Debbie: We live in a ranch style bungalow and recently changed the siding to a light sage green color; window frames and doors are white. In the middle of the facade is a porch with a burnt orange brick wall. What would you suggest for the roof (color, style) and paint the brick? Would you change the color of the entrance and garage doors? Thank you. – Darlene
Dear DarlÃ¨ne: Think about what you want to see when you look at your house. I would maximize the entrance, which is almost hidden behind tall bushes and shrubs. Start by moving them to the side of the house next to the garage and plant a low garden along the driveway. Choose a darker shade of your sage green to cover the white of the garage door so that it is less prominent. The front door is the welcoming focal point of a home; how you want to treat it is up to you. You can go bold with a contrasting color or paint it the same shade as the brick. Warm gray, black or woody brown are classics. One option for the roof would be to replace the shingles with rusty orange tiles that would match up with the brick in the driveway. Tiles are more expensive, but that would be wonderful. A dark gray roof tile would also work, attaching to the mortar around the bricks. Leave the natural bricks; they make an attractive contrast to your siding.
Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please send your questions to [email protected] You can follow Debbie on Twitter at www.twitter.com/debbie_travis and visit Debbie’s new website, www.debbietravis.com.