The average American household consumes about 146,000 gallons of water each year, primarily within the home. Scientists predict water shortages in thirty-six states by 2013. However, analysts say that it is not all bleak and that the nation can do a lot to save about 3 trillion gallons of water each year.
A few simple changes to water consumption within the home can go a long way toward conserving water. The reward for consumers is that they will realize significant savings in energy costs. Saving water means saving money, in lower water bills plus the cost of heating the water.
Ten Ways for Homeowners to Save Water and Money
- Stop leaks – Studies have shown that leaky household devices and systems account for ten percent of the water use in the average home. Check appliances, plumbing fixtures, and sprinklers for leaks. Test for leaks by turning off all accessories and reading your water meter. Keep all the water out for an hour and check again. The reading should not have changed. If so, it means you have a leak. You can test your toilet by putting a few drops of food coloring in the tank and waiting ten minutes. Check the water in the container; If the dye has gotten into the bowl, your toilet is leaking and needs repair. The typical household pays about $ 250 a year for water leaks.
- Install low-flow shower heads – Shower heads prior to 1992 deliver water at 8 gallons per minute (GPM). Newer models of low-flow showerheads use 1.6 to 1.85 GPM and save in two ways: 45,000 fewer gallons of water per family of four each year, plus the cost of energy to heat the water, roughly estimated at an annual savings of $ 92.
- Replace old toilets – Toilets manufactured before 1994 use at least 3.5 gallons of water per flush (GPF). Newer ultra low flush toilets use 1.6 GPF, which is the current federal standard for all new toilet installations. Prices start at $ 100, and these toilets typically pay for themselves in four years. Homeowners save about $ 28 a year with a low-level toilet.
- Replace old clothes washer – The new Watersense and Energy Star washers use an average of 40% less water than traditional washers. Limiting your laundry to two full loads per week will save more than 6,400 gallons of water per year.
- Turn off the taps – When you brush your teeth for two minutes and leave the water running, you are using two gallons of water, in the morning and at night, more during shaving. The average home wastes more than 16,000 gallons of water a year this way.
- Use a car wash – Up to ten gallons of water per minute are wasted every time you hose down your car. Washing your car at a commercial car wash saves nearly 10,000 gallons of water a year, plus the water at these stations is recycled.
- Sprinkle less – Rain sensors and sprinkler clocks reduce water use by approximately 15 percent. Most of the water is wasted just before and after the rainy season when intermittent rains occur and irrigation systems are running constantly. Shutoff devices save thousands of gallons of water per month in every home. An irrigation controller also saves water by watering plants only when they need it. If you water manually, placing sprinklers around your garden, set a timer to remind you to turn off the sprinklers and not waste while over-watering.
- Sweep more, hose less – Using a broom for ten minutes before relying on water pressure from a hose or pressure washer to clean driveways, walks, patios and decks saves a thousand gallons of water each week.
- Cool – Kitchen faucets flow at a rate of more than a gallon per minute while you wait for the water to cool enough to drink. Keeping a jug of water in the refrigerator eliminates this waste, saving at least a thousand gallons of water per year for each person in your household.
- Go native – Plants native to your area use less water and are less prone to disease. Drought-resistant shrubs are beautiful replacements for flowering perennial shrubs that require large amounts of water. Get acquainted with the principles of “Xeriscape,” a government program that shows how to create a beautiful landscape with a low-maintenance, drought-resistant garden plan.
Water conservation is a state of mind, a way of thinking about our lives and our homes. It only takes a little effort to make a big difference, reap savings, and get the satisfaction that we’re making “every drop count.”