Preserving More Than Just Water

by Tom Wilson 9/3/23
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Reduce Water Home Usage

Small changes add up to big savings
Simply making some minor adjustments in your daily routines can save a substantial amounts of water. Being self conscious and aware of the ways we can conserve is a great place to start. The next step is making a commitment to shifting your behavior to more responsible habits. There are many ways we unknowingly waste this valuable recourse every day. We'll break down how your can save both water and money with some easy household changes.

"We never know the worth of water till the well is dry"
Thomas Fuller, 1732

Where Does the Most Home Water Loss Occur?

Our household water usage can be broken down into a few main areas. Understanding where each has potential for reducing waste is an important start.  Energy efficient appliances can greatly reduce water consumption. Yet, changing and adapting our habits and way of thinking is even more important.

Reduce Bathroom Water Usage  

Approximately 1/2 of all home water usage takes place tin the bathroom. As creatures of habit, most of us have no idea how much water we waste every day preforming our daily routines.  Showering, shaving, brushing our teeth and toilet usage all consume large quantities of water. Lets take a look at the ways we waste less and save money too!

Check for Leaks in Toilet

The flush valve (or Flapper) is the most common cause of toilet leaks. Over time, wear causes these valves to be improperly seated, causing leakage into the toilet bowl. These leaks are often barely audible and may go noticed for long periods of time. Depending on the severity of the leak, water loss can be as high as 200 gallons a day. Plumbers Tip: add a few drops of food coloring into your toilet tank. After 15 minutes, check your toilet bowl. The presence of the same color in the bowl will confirm a leak. Keep in mind, leaks can also occur from the supply line leading up to the toilet. Run your fingers along the line t check for leaks if water is detected around the bowl. Don't hesitate to consult a professional plumber if the problem becomes more than you can handle.

Shower Hose Leaks

A shower hose may leak for a variety of reasons. It may be worn over time, have faulty couplings, or might just be improperly installed. Regular inspection and maintenance is required to avoid wasting water.  Look for cracks or kinks in hose and replace if damage is apparent. If the cause of the leak can not be determined, seek out professional plumber's assistance to resolve the problem. Their expertise can quickly solve and fix any issues you may have. 

Replace Showerheads with Energy Efficient Units

Energy efficient showerheads lower the flow rate (gallons) per minute) used. When first introduced, water flow intensity was too weak and inadequate for most users. However, Modern innovations have increased performance dramatically. New models can save up to 40% on water usage while maintaining efficient and consistent water pressure. The United States Environmental Protection Agency Energy (EPA) reports showering accounts for 17% of all residential usage. The installation of a WaterSense labeled showerhead can save the average family 2,700 gallons of water a year. The EPA also states that heating less water saves enough electricity each year to heat an average family home for 11 days. 

Take Showers instead of Baths

An average 10 minute shower uses around 1/2 the water that taking a bath does. Reducing the amount of baths taken can greatly reduce water usage. On the occasions when you do take a bath, try filling the tub a bit lower as a compromise.

Take Shorter  Showers

It may seem to be overstating the obvious but shorter shower save on water usage. Northern Arizona University reports the average 10 minute shower uses 18 gallons of water. Taking a cooler shower will reduce your energy bill as well.

Turn Water Off When Brushing Rour Teeth Or Shaving

Turning the faucet off in between rinsing can save a considerable amount of water. While it is convenient to let the tap run continually, it is also extremely wasteful.

Reduce Kitchen Water Usage   

The kitchen is one of the rooms we feel most comfortable in.  A place where both home cooked meals and memories are made. Yet it is also a room where a great deal of water is unnecessarily wasted. Lets explore...

Check for Faucet Leaks  

Many leaks in you kitchen faucet can be remedied by a few simple repairs. Often times, tightening the ring or replacing the O-ring will do the trick. But, when inner parts begin to wear, it is usually a good time to shop for a new faucet. For some this may be a simple DIY project. For many this may mean calling a professional plumber to make sure the job is done right.

Check for Leaks in Under Sink Pipes  

Leaks under your sink not only waste water, they can cause serious damage throughout your kitchen if not addressed. Check corrosion on metal pipes or cracks in plastic pipes. Other related leak causes are worn gaskets or washers, supply line leaks or high water pressure. Again, we advise seeking a professional plumber's assistance for any repairs beyond your comfort level.

Limit Dishwasher Usage to Full Loads 

Your dishwasher uses the same amount of water and energy for every load regardless of how full it is. It makes good sense to only run a wash cycle with a completely full load. It only makes sense to limit the amount of times you run a wash cycle. 

Use ENERGY STAR Certified Dishwashers

According to the US Department of Energy, ENERGY STAR certified dishwasher average 12% less energy and 30% less water usage than standard models. Smaller appliances with shorter life spans like dishwashers typically are not eligible for tax rebates. But, keep in mind your savings on monthly water and energy bills will add up over time. 

Reduce Water Usage When Washing Dishes by Hand

Modern energy efficient dishwashers use over 50 - 70% less water than washing by hand. Yet, if you must hand wash your dishes there are a few ways you can reduce your water usage. Using two basins will use the least amount of water and is the ideal method.. After scraping and rinsing off dishes (using cold water to save energy) fill the first basin with hot water. Add a small amount of dish washing solution then fill the second basin with cold water. It is not necessary to rinse dishes in hot water. Of course, not every home kitchen has the benefit of two sinks. If this is the case, a plastic basin placed near your sink will suffice for rinsing. This method will result in the the least amount of water and energy usage.

Don't Wash Fruits and Vegetables Under a Faucet

Rather than putting Fruits and Vegetables in a colander and washing under your faucet, rinse in a bowl filled with clean water. This is an equally effective method that uses far less water.

Reduce Laundry Water Usage  

Lets face it, doing laundry is not among most peoples favorite chores.  The task of cleaning our clothing is performed out of necessity and habit. It's probably safe to say most of us have not given a lot of thought as to how much water we waste while doing this thankless duty. We'll review ways you can save money by reducing unnecessary water consumption. 

Limit Cloths Washer Usage to Full Loads

Reduce water and energy usage by consolidating unnecessary smaller loads. Please note: A full load does not mean overloading your machines. Washers that are too full will not get clothing as clean. Also, overloaded dryers take longer to finish and use more energy do dry your clothing.

Use ENERGY STAR Certified Cloths Washers

ENERGY STAR certified clothes washers save on average 25% less energy and 33% less water than standard models. Advanced energy saving feature make the initial cost of these washers higher. But long term water and energy savings more than offset the higher purchase price. 

Use Cold Water to Wash Laundry

The EPA reports that over 70% of energy cost is the result of heating water. Detergents generally do just as good a job in cold as hot. You will also encounter less shrinkage and fading of clothing over time. Of course saving money on your energy bill is a big plus too!

Wash Clothing and Towels Less Often

An article of clothing worn only for a brief period of time may not need to be washed every time you wear it. Likewise, a bath towels can be used multiple times before washing, Simply hang them up to dry and re use until washing is needed. 

Reduce Lawn Watering Usage  

Reducing water usage doesn't mean you have to sacrifice a beautiful lawn. To the contrary, watering less but more efficiently can actually promote better results. Learn how to conserve water while maintaining a greener healthier lawn. 

Water Your Lawn Thoroughly But Less Often

Watering thoroughly but less often allows for greater moisture penetration. This aids in the development of a deeper root structure and a fuller greener lawn. Dry periods between watering are important as they encourage root growth. Be mindful of the weather forecast, if rain is predicted, let mother nature take over.

Don't Cut Your Grass Too Short

Allowing your grass to remain at a height of at least 3" will allow shade for soil which limits evaporation. This also encourages deeper root development and a healthier lawn. A bonus benefit is the significant reduction in water consumption.

Water Early in the Morning or After Sunset 

Avoiding watering during peak sun hours will greatly reduce the amount of water lost through evaporation 

Don't Water Your Driveway or Sidewalk

This may sound like a silly statement but quite often this is exactly what happens. Have you ever taken a walk and been forced to detour around a neighbors sprinkler? Allowing water to be dispersed anywhere else but your lawn is inefficient and wasteful. Take time to properly set your your watering system.
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