Is the tap water from local municipalities safe? Is it likely that older copper pipes may leach into the water?

In 2007, it was found that some bottled water companies were selling water that was contaminated and less healthy for consumers than tap water. TheNatural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) conducted a four year study on bottled water. The results of this study show that one-third of the bottled water tested contained levels of contamination which exceeds allowable limits under either state or bottled water industry standards or guidelines.

Generally, copper tubes are soldered directly into copper or brass fittings, although compression, crimp, or flare fittings are also used. Formerly, concerns with copper supply tubes included the lead used in the solder at joints (50% tin and 50% lead). Some studies have shown significant “leaching” of the lead into the potable water stream, particularly after long periods of low usage, followed by peak demand periods. In hard water applications, shortly after installation, the interior of the pipes will be coated with the deposited minerals that had been dissolved in the water, and therefore the vast majority of exposed lead is prevented from entering the potable water. Building codes now require lead-free solder.

Where is the majority of home water use and how can I save ?

According to a 1999 American Water Works Association study[citation needed] on residential end uses of water in the United States, Americans drink more than 1 glass of tap water per day (the daily human drinking water requirement being 2-3 quarts). Daily indoor per capita water use in a typical single family home is 69.3 gallons (260 litres), falling into the following categories:

~ Toilets – 26.7% (18.5 gal.)
~ Clothes Washers – 21.7% (15 gal.)
~ Showers – 16.8% (11.6 gal.)
~ Faucets (including drinking water at ca. 1%) – 15.7% (10.9 gal.)
~ Leaks – 12.7% (9.5 gal.)
~ Baths – 1.7% (1.2 gal.)
~ Dishwashers – 1.4% (1.0 gal.)
~ Other indoor domestic uses – 2.2%

By referencing these usage levels you will be able to better gauge where you may save on usage and cost. Generally, front load washing machines save $147 per year. Some communities offer rebates. Low flow toilets may save up to 4000 gallons per year. A new dishwasher will save $51 per year over a seven year old dishwasher. A new oil furnace is 90% efficient vs a 20 year old with a 72% efficiency. Potential savings of $230/yr. Lowering your water heater temp to 120 from 130 degrees saves 5% per year.A high efficiency shower head will reduce hot water usage by up to 50%. A leaky faucet can cost you a few hundred dollars a year. A programmable thermostat that adjusts so you don’t have to remember, can save up to $202/yr. (Consumer Reports)