By: Heather Skyler
You’ll likely be surprised to learn how much water the average family of four uses every single day in their home: 255 gallons!
The estimates are: 15 gallons for dishwashing; 12 for cooking and drinking; 5 for basic hand washing; 35 for laundry; 80 for bathing; 8 at the bathroom sink for tooth brushing, face-washing, etc.; and a whopping 100 in toilet flushes!
Now, you may be thinking to yourself, not me! We only bathe once a week and we never wash our hands! Regardless of whether or not you meet or exceed the average water use of the average family, everyone wants to save money on their water bill, and be kind to mother earth in the process. Here are some tips for doing just that.
1. Make sure that the water in your toilet is not continuously running. One way to check: place several drops of food coloring in the tank. Wait 15 to 30 minutes and don't flush. If the color appears in the water of the toilet’s bowl, you have a "leak." Locate the leak and make the necessary repairs or have them made as soon as possible. Depending on the severity of the leak, it is possible that up to 100 gallons of water could be wasted each day.
2. Put one to three tightly closed, quart plastic bottles (with rocks inside them to weight them down) inside the commode tank. Be sure to place the bottles in such a position as to not interfere with the flushing mechanism. When you flush the commode, one to three fewer quarts of water will be used. Don't use bricks for displacement of water in the commode tank. They may flake off and cause damage to the system. The flush volume of five gallons (for most conventional commodes) can be reduced by 15 percent without hindering performance.
3. Use your water meter to check for hidden water leaks. Read the house water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.
4. Install low flow faucet aerators in the kitchen and bathrooms. This is a very inexpensive and an easy way to save a lot of water. Aerators are typically small metal screens that fit into the faucet nozzle. These small screens mix the water coming out of the faucet with air, causing a fuller flow of water. Installing a faucet aerator doesn't require specialized tools, and a typical novice homeowner can complete the project in just a few minutes.
5. Install a low-flow showerhead. Inexpensive water-saving low-flow shower heads or restrictors are easy for the homeowner to install. Also, long, hot showers can use five to 10 gallons for every minute wasted in the shower. Limit your showers to the time it takes to soap up, wash down, and rinse off. "Low-flow" means it uses less than 2.5 gallons per minute.
6. Insulate your water pipes. It's easy and inexpensive to insulate your water pipes with pre-slit foam pipe insulation. You'll get hot water faster plus avoid wasting water while it heats up.
7. Rinse your razor in the sink. Fill the sink with a few inches of warm water. This will rinse your razor just as well as running water, with far less waste of water.
8. Use your dishwasher and clothes washer for only full loads. Automatic dishwashers and clothes washers should be fully loaded for optimum water conservation. Also, most makers of dishwashing soap recommend not pre-rinsing dishes which is a big water savings. With clothes washers, avoid the permanent press cycle, which uses an added 5 gallons for the extra rinse. For partial loads, adjust water levels to match the size of the load. Replace old clothes washers. New Energy Star rated washers use 35 – 50 percent less water and 50 percent less energy per load. If you're in the market for a new clothes washer, consider buying a water-saving frontload washer.
9. Minimize use of kitchen sink garbage disposal units. In-sink garbage disposals require lots of water to operate properly, and also add considerably to the volume of solids in a septic tank which can lead to maintenance problems. Start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing food waste.
10. Keep a bottle of drinking water in the fridge. Running tap water to cool it off for drinking is wasteful. Store drinking water in the fridge in a safe drinking bottle. If you are filling water bottles to bring along on outdoor hikes, consider buying a LifeStraw personal water filter which enables users to drink water safely from rivers or lakes or any available body of water.