According to the EPA, the average American family uses more than 300 gallons of water per day at home. Whether you are living in a drought-stricken region or not, conserving a precious resource like water is very important. This can be done by making changes in the way we use water and adapting efficient water-saving technology.
Here are some ways through which you can contribute to water conservation.
SAVING WATER IN YOUR HOMES
Old and inefficient toilets, shower heads, and leaky taps should be replaced with newer models that conserve water. Toilets use up the most amount of water in a household. Older toilets could use up to 7 gallons of water per flush. High-Efficiency Toilets (HET) use a maximum of 1.3 gallons per flush and Ultra Low Flush Toilets (ULF) use a maximum of 1.6 gallons per flush. Dual-flush toilets come with a full flush and a half flush capability, using the half flush as much as possible helps conserve water.
High-efficiency washing machines not only use only about half the water used by older washing machines per load, but they also save energy and perform better. The most efficient way to wash clothes in a washing machine or dishes in a dishwasher is running a full load.
Apart from using an efficient water saving shower, another way to conserve water while showering is to adopt the "navy shower" method, where you turn off the shower while shampooing and washing your body. Do not ignore leaks; ensure that you fix all of them. An average household can lose up to 20,000 gallons of water per year from leaks. Insulating water pipes is easy and inexpensive, it helps you get hot water faster, and no water is wasted while you wait for it to heat. A water timer fixed under a tap and set to turn the tap off after a certain amount of time prevents wastage of water. Water usage monitors also help regulate the usage of water.
Find your water meter and learn how to read it. Comparing readings from the beginning and end of the day will tell you how much water you and your family use. Another use of the water meter is that it helps you detect leaks in your home. When you turn off all the taps, but your water meter is still running, you likely have a leak in your house.
WaterSense is a voluntary partnership program sponsored by the EPA. WaterSense-labeled products and services use at least 20% less water, perform as well as or better than their counterparts, save energy, help save on your water bills, and achieve water efficiency through technology. All WaterSense products meet the EPA's specifications for water efficiency and performance. They are also backed by independent, third-party certification.
While replacing inefficient faucets and aerators with WaterSense-labeled products can save 700 gallons of water per year, a WaterSense-labeled irrigation controller can save about 8,800 gallons of water!
LANDSCAPING AND IRRIGATION
A significant amount of water is used to water plants and maintain landscapes. Water-wise landscape planning and planting and using water-efficient irrigation systems with optimal schedules and controls and low-flow sprinkler heads, significantly contribute to water conservation.
Xeriscaping is the use of water-wise plants, which are local plants that are adapted to the local climate and hence require less water. These plants also survive droughts and are tolerant to pests and diseases. They adapt to the limits of their natural environment and therefore need less water, fertilizers, and pesticides. Plant trees together so that they can shade each other and increase humidity levels, and therefore reduce their need for water. Trees also provide shade to small plants that need cooler temperatures. Never plant trees in an irrigated lawn, since lawns require more water than trees, and overwatering could damage trees. There are several varieties of shrubs and perennial plants which adapt to different climatic conditions and can thus be very water efficient. Lawns and annual plants use up the most water.
Efficient irrigation design and scheduling are important for efficient water use. A well-managed sprinkler system will release water only when required, and only the amount needed to replenish the soil. You could get a smart irrigation controller, where the sprinkler system automatically alters its program in accordance with a change in the weather. Other options are inexpensive rain shutoff devices, and soil moisture sensors, which switch off the irrigation system when it is raining, or the soil is wet. If you have just a small garden, then hand watering would be better than an irrigation system to conserve water. Also, always water your plants early in the mornings, since the cooler temperatures reduce the loss of water through evaporation.
Rainwater Harvesting, where rainwater is collected, and water catchment systems, where non-potable water from rivers, ponds, or wells, is collected are ways to reuse water. The collected water is used for purposes, including toilet flushing, single-pass cooling, and landscape irrigation.
Greywater is obtained after water from showers, baths, sinks, and laundry is filtered to remove solids. Greywater could be used for toilet flushing or landscape irrigation. Note that many jurisdictions do not permit the use of greywater due to health concerns. So check before you implement.
When you use the toilet as waste disposal or an ashtray, you're simply wasting several gallons of water. Avoid this completely! Do not keep the water running when you brush or wash your hands. Utilize the water which goes for a waste while you wait for your shower water to heat up. Collect that water in a bucket and use it to flush the toilet or water plants.
Similarly, the water used to boil pasta (when cooled down) or wash vegetables and fruits can be reused to water plants. In case you have a dual kitchen sink, fill one with soapy water for washing and the other with clear water for rinsing. You're likely to use half the amount of water you otherwise use. Clean driveways and sidewalks with a broom instead of a hose.
Evaporation can cause your swimming pool to lose water, get a cover to conserve the water. This helps reduce the replacement water needed by 30 to 50%. You could combine your dog's bath time with watering the plants. This way, you save water and achieve two tasks. Just make sure that your dog's soap doesn't harm your plants. When you have to wash your car, take it to a car wash where water recycling processes are used.
Government-backed research shows that population growth and climate change is likely to cause severe water shortages in the US within the next 55 years. Only a contribution from each one of us can make a difference.
Do your bit to conserve water now! ♥