The average U.S. household consumes around 146-thousand gallons of water every year, mostly within the home. Scientists predict water shortages in thirty-six states by the year 2013. Analysts however say that all is not bleak, and there much the nation can do to save around 3-trillion gallons of water every year.
A few simple changes in water consumption within the home can make a vast contribution to water conservation. The payoff for consumers is they will reap significant savings in energy costs. Saving water means saving money, in lower water bills plus the cost of heating that water.
10 Ways for Homeowners to Save Water & Money
- Stop Leaks — Studies have shown that leaking household devices and systems account for ten-percent of water consumption in the average house. Check appliances, plumbing devices and irrigation systems for leaks. Test for leaks by turning off all fixtures and read your water meter. Keep all water off for one hour and check again. The reading should not have changed. If it has, it means you have a leak. You can test your toilet by putting a few drops of food color in the tank, and waiting ten minutes. Check the water in the bowl; if the coloring has entered the bowl, your toilet is leaking and needs repair. The typical household pays about 250-dollars annually for leaking water.
- Install Low-Flow Showerheads — Pre-1992 shower heads deliver water at 8 gallons per minute (GPM). Newest models of low-flow shower heads use 1.6 to 1.85 GPM and save in two ways — 45-thousand gallons of water less per family of four each year, plus the cost of energy to heat the water, calculates roughly to an annual saving of 92-dollars.
- 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-dollars and these toilets usually pay for themselves within four years. Homeowners save an estimated 28-dollars per year with a low-flush toilet.
- Replace Old Clothes Washer — New Watersense and Energy Star-rated washing machines use an average of 40% less water than traditional washers. If you limit your laundry to two full loads a week, you’ll save more than 6,400 gallons of water annually.
- Turn Off Faucets — When you brush your teeth for two minutes and leave the water running, you’re using two gallons of water, morning and night — more during shaving. The average household wastes more than 16-thousand gallons of water a year this way.
- Use a Car-Wash — Up to ten gallons of water a minute is wasted every time you wash your car with a hose. Washing your car at a commercial car wash saves nearly 10-thousand gallons of water a year, plus the water at these stations is recycled.
- Sprinkle Less — Rain sensors and sprinkler clocks cut water use by about 15-percent. Most water is wasted just before and after the rainy season when intermittent rains occur and sprinkling systems work steadily. Shut-off devices save thousands of gallons of water per month in every household. An irrigation controller also saves water by only watering plants when they need it. If you water manually, placing sprinklers around your yard, set a timer to remind you to turn off sprinklers and not waste while over watering.
- Sweep More, Hose Less — Using a broom for ten minutes before you rely on water pressure from a hose or power-washer to clean driveways, walks, patios and decks saves 1-thousand gallons of water every week.
- Chill — Kitchen faucets flow at a rate of more than a gallon a minute while you’re waiting for water to get cold enough to drink. Keeping a pitcher of water in the refrigerator eliminates this waste, saving at least one thousand gallons of water per year for each person in your house.
- 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 bushes which require large amounts of water. Become familiar with the principles of “Xeriscape,” a government program which shows how to create a beautiful landscape with a low-maintenance, drought-resistant garden plan.
Water conservation is a frame of mind, a way of thinking about our lives and our homes. It only take a little effort to make a big difference, reap savings, and earn the satisfaction that we are making ‘every drop count.’