Too Much Water Down the Drain? Make Some Changes

Energy use and global warming get a lot of attention these days (and they should), but water conservation is an equally important environmental issue. Significant portions of the United States are facing serious water constraints and we all need to do our part to save water. Did you know that the average American household with three members uses over 300 gallons of water per day, both inside and outside?

Inside of our homes, toilets, clothes washers and showers are the largest water users, representing 20, 15 and 12 gallons per person per day respectively. By making some behavior changes, and by adding some new fixture attachments and appliances, an average water-conserving home could cut the 300 gallon daily average to less than 150 gallons with no sacrifice in comfort or performance. Let’s get to it!

How to Do It

We’ll go in order from least expensive (free!) to most costly.

1. Only run full loads of dishes and laundry. This is the most efficient from a water and energy-saving perspective.

2. Don’t hand wash your dishes or clothing. You’ll use more water that way rather than using your machines–particularly if you have newer, Energy Star machines. And you could be wasting a lot of water rinsing off your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher. Most dishwashers can wash your dishes clean even if you haven’t rinsed them first.

3. Make sure to fix any leaks. Do you hear your toilet running all the time? Is there a drip, drip, drip in your tub? The water volume from these leaks will really add up over time. Leaks can account for as much as 10% of your indoor water use! These are often undetected because they are small, hidden in water fixtures, walls and basements, or happen underground. Check your water meter to see if you have any leaks (shut off all water uses in your house for an hour, and see if your meter moves).

4. Turn off your faucet while you brush your teeth, scrub your hands, and wash your face.

5. Get high-efficiency shower heads. These are really amazing: you’ll still enjoy a luxurious, powerful shower stream but you will save thousands of gallons of water per person per year. You can also get a small sink-faucet attachment, which works the same way and will really cut your sink water use.

6. Get low-flow toilets. Today’s high efficiency toilets not only save water and energy, but also perform as well as their water-guzzling predecessors. You may be wasting tens of gallons a day if you live in an older house with old toilets. Check out our simple DIY steps for installing a low-flow toilet!

7. Get a re-circulating water pump.  Such a system can save 10 gallons of water or more per day depending on your piping layout. It will also give you hot water as soon as you turn on the tap. However, make sure you use versions with a motion or switch activator, as those with timers can increase hot water energy use. Check out the re-circulating water pumps from Got Hot Water.

8. If you have some money to spend, or if it’s time for new machines, it’s a very good idea to get an Energy Star approved laundry machine and dish washer. These machines save a significant amount energy and water and they will save you money over the long run. There are also rebates available for these appliances, too.

See– that wasn’t so bad! You still have clean dishes, laundry, teeth and a nice hot shower. And you’ve saved over 50,000 gallons of liquid gold each year. Nice work!

Thanks to Low Impact Living for sharing this article.


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