How to Use Water Effectively

The convenience of tap water makes many people think of water as an unlimited resource. However, the reality is that only one percent of all the world’s water can be used for drinking. Nearly 97 percent of the world’s water is salty or otherwise undrinkable, and the other two percent is locked away in ice caps and glaciers. There is no “new” water: we are using the same water the dinosaurs used millions of years ago.

The average American uses about 90 gallons of water each day in the home, and each American household uses approximately 107,000 gallons of water each year. In fact, 50-70 percent of home water is used for watering lawns and gardens. Surprisingly, nearly 14 percent of the water a typical homeowner pays for is never even used—it leaks down the drain. In comparison to other countries, Americans use much more water each day than individuals in both developed and undeveloped countries: For example, the average European uses 53 gallons; the average Sub-Saharan citizen, 3-5 gallons.

Conserve Water

Common Household Uses Of Drinking Water (Gallons per Capita per Day)

  • Bathing: 20 gpc
  • Toilet Flushing: 24 gpcd
  • Lawn Watering and Pools: 25 gpcd
  • Laundry: 8.5 gpcd
  • Dishwasher: 4 gpcd
  • Car Washing: 2.5 gpcd
  • Drinking and Cooking: 2 gpcd
  • Garbage Disposal: 1 gpcd

The national average cost of water is $2.00 per 1,000 gallons. The average American family spends about $474 each year on water and sewage charges. American households spend an additional $230 per year on water heating costs. Although, in most cases, combined water and sewer bills average only about 0.5 percent of household income. By using water wisely, you can save hundreds of dollars each year.

Water efficiency plays an important role in protecting water sources and improving water quality. Using water-saving techniques such as replacing appliances like dishwasher and inefficient fixtures such as toilets and showerheads, you can save a substantial amount each year in water, sewage, and energy costs. There are many other ways to save water in and around your home. Here are the five that might get the best results:

  1. Stop Leaks:
    • Many silent leaks allow water and your money to go down the drain. Studies have shown homes can waste more than 10% due to leaking.
    • Another large water waster can be leaks in your irrigation system. If you have an older irrigation system, over 50% and even more than 75% of the water can be lost to leaks

  2. Replace Old Toilets with models that use 1.6 gallons or less per flush:
    • If your home was built before 1992 and the toilet has never been replaced, then it is very likely that you do not have a water-efficient 1.6 gallon per flush toilet. You can check the date stamp inside the toilet by lifting the lid and looking at the back of the toilet at the manufacturer's imprint of the make, model and date of manufacture.

  3. Replace Old Clothes Washers with EPA Energy Star certified models:
    • Energy Star™ rated washers that also have a Water Factor at or lower than 9.5, use 35-50% less water and 50% less energy per load.

  4. Plant the Right Plants with Proper Landscape Design & Irrigation
    • Select plants that are appropriate for your local climate conditions. Having a yard with 100% lawn turf area in a dry desert climate uses significant amounts of water.

  5. Water Only What Your Plants Need
    • Make sure your irrigation controller has a rain shutoff device and that it's appropriately scheduled. Most water is wasted in months prior to or just after the rainy season when intermittent rains occur.

If the cost of water is rising, it is possible that suppliers meet the needs of aging infrastructure, comply with public health standards, and expand service areas. In most cases, these increasing costs have caused water suppliers to raise their rates. By using water-saving techniques, you can help reduce household water and waster water use, which can have far-reaching environmental benefits. Also, Conservation reduces the need to develop new water treatment facilities and new water storage.

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