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Water Conservation

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 8 months ago

 EVERY DROP COUNTS

 


Why worry about water? According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's WaterSense program:

 

Across the country, our growing population is putting stress on available water supplies. Between 1950 and 2000, the U.S. population increased nearly 90 percent. However, in that same period, public demand for water increased 209 percent! Americans now use an average of 100 gallons of water each day—enough to fill 1,600 drinking glasses! This increased demand has put additional stress on water supplies and distribution systems, threatening both human health and the environment. There's a reason that water has become a national priority. A recent government survey showed at least 36 states are anticipating local, regional, or statewide water shortages by 2013.

 

There are many more benefits of water conservation, including reduced costs and energy use and safer water supplies. For example:

  • If all U.S. households installed water-efficient appliances, the country would save more than 3 trillion gallons of water and more than $17 billion dollars per year.

  • U.S. public water supply and treatment facilities consume enough electricity to power more than 4.5 million homes for an entire year. For example, letting your faucet run for 5 minutes uses about as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 14 hours.

  • If 1% of U.S. homes retrofitted with water-efficient fixtures, we could save enough energy to avoid 75,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions -- the equivalent of removing nearly 15,000 automobiles from the road for 1 year.

  • Depleting reservoirs and groundwater aquifers can put water supplies, human health, and the environment at serious risk. Lower water levels in reservoirs and groundwater aquifers can lead to higher concentrations of natural contaminants, such as radon and arsenic, or human pollutants, such as agricultural and chemical wastes. 

 

WATER USE CALCULATORS

 

WATER-SAVING TIPS FOR INDOORS

  • Fix all leaky faucets and running toilets. Leaky faucets dripping at the rate of 1 drop per second can waste up to 2,700 gallons of water per year.

      • If you're unsure whether you have a leak, read your water meter before and after a 2-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, you probably have a leak.
  • Insulate all hot water pipes, especially within 3 feet of the water heater. Also insulate the cold water inlet pipes for the first 3 feet. Here's how:

      • Use quality pipe insulation wrap, like pipe sleeves made with polyethylene or neoprene foam, or use acrylic tape to neatly tape strips of fiberglass insulation around the pipes.
      • Match the pipe sleeve's inside diameter to the pipe's outside diameter for a snug fit.
      • Place the pipe sleeve so the seam will be face down on the pipe.
      • Tape, wire, or clamp (with a cable tie ) it every foot or two to secure it to the pipe.
      • On gas water heaters, keep insulation at least 6 inches from the flue. If pipes are within 8 inches of the flue, your safest choice is to use fiberglass pipe-wrap (at least 1-inch thick) without a facing. You can use either wire or aluminum foil tape to secure it to the pipe.
  • Low-flow faucet aerators can reduce your house's water consumption and water heating costs by 50%.

      • If an aerator is already installed on your facuet, it will have its rated flow imprinted on the side. This should read 2.75 gpm (gallons per minute) or lower. Replace if over 2.75 gpm.
      • Unscrew the old aerator if one is installed. This can often be done by hand. If you need more force, use channel-lock pliers, vise grips, or a small pipe wrench. Unscrew smoothly and steadily -- don't jerk hard, or you might damage the threads.
      • Apply a single piece of white pipe tape around the threads of the new aerator.
      • Put the rubber washer inside the end, and screw the new aerator by hand onto the faucet.
      • Run water to test. If it leaks out the side, try tightening more by hand. Test again. If there is still a small leak, use pliers to tighten. Don't use a pipe wrench. Put a damp cloth around the aerator first to protect the finish from the pliers. Take care not to over-tighten.

IN THE KITCHEN

FOOD PREP & COOKING

  • Wash your produce in the sink or a pan that is partially filled with water instead of running water from the tap.

  • Collect the water you use for rinsing produce and reuse it to water houseplants.

  • Don't use running water to thaw food; thaw food in the refrigerator overnight.

  • Select the proper size pans for cooking. Large pans require more cooking water than may be necessary.

  • Cook food in as little water as possible. This will also retain more of the food's nutrients.

  • Throw trimmings and peelings from fruits and vegetables into your backyard compost pile or vermicompost bin instead of using the garbage disposal.

WASHING DISHES

  • Compost instead of using the garbage disposal, and save gallons every time.

  • Soak your pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.

  • Cut back on rinsing if your dishwasher is new. Newer models clean more thoroughly than older ones.

  • Run your dishwasher only when it is full, and you could save hundreds of gallons a month.

  • When washing dishes by hand, don't let the water run while rinsing. Fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water.

DRINKING WATER

  • Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap for cold drinks.

  • Designate one glass for your drinking water each day. This will cut down on the number of times you run your dishwasher.

  • If you accidentally drop ice cubes when filling your glass from the freezer, don't throw them in the sink. Drop them in a house plant instead.

 IN THE BATHROOM

SHOWERS

  • A full bath tub requires about 70 gallons of water, while taking a 5 minute shower uses only 10 - 25 gallons.

  • Turn the water off while you shampoo and condition your hair, and you can save more than 50 gallons a week.
  • If your shower can fill a 1-gallon bucket in less than 20 seconds, then replace it with a water-efficient showerhead. Each low-flow showerhead can save your house about 500 gallons per week. Low-flow showerheads reduce water waste, not water pressure.

      • If you have a low-flow showerhead installed, it should read 2.5 gpm (gallons per minute) or less.

TOILETS

  • Put food coloring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the toilet bowl within 30 minutes, you have a leak. It's easy to fix, and can save more than 200 gallons per day.

  • Throw away tissue in the trash instead of flushing it, and save gallons every time.

  • If your toilet is from 1980 or earlier, place a milk jug filled with water and 1 - 2 inches of sand or pebbles in your toilet tank to cut down on the amount of water used for each flush. Be sure this does not interfere with operating parts.

  • If your toilet is from 1992 or earlier, you probably have an inefficient model that uses between 3.5 - 7 gallons per flush. New and improved high-efficiency models use less than 1.3 gallons per flush (60 - 80% less water).

  • If your house is in the market for a new toilet, consider purchasing a High Efficiency Toilet (HET).

      • If 1% of U.S. homes replaced an older toilet with a HET, the United States would save enough energy to supply more than 43,000 households electricity for 1 month.

SINKS

  • Turn off the water while you brush your teeth, and save 2 gallons a minute.

  • When you are washing your hands, don't let the water run while you lather.

  • Turn off the water while you shave, and save more than 100 gallons a week.

  • Consider washing your face or brushing your teeth while in the shower instead of at the sink.

  • Look for bathroom sink faucets with the EPA's  WaterSense label in 2008.

      • Bathroom sink faucets bearing the WaterSense label will use no more than 1.5 gpm.

      • If each U.S. household installed a WaterSense faucet aerator or faucet adaptor, the country could save more than 60 billion gallons.

 IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM

  • Avoid the permanent press cycle, which uses an additional 5 gallons of water.

  • When using the washing machine, match the water level to the size of the load.

  • Wash clothes only when you have a full load, and save up to 600 gallons each month.

  • If your house is in the market for a new washing machine, look for a front-load washer with ENERGY STAR certification.

      • Most full-sized ENERGY STAR washers use 18 - 25 gallons of water per load, compared to the 40 gallons used by a standard machine.

WITH PETS

  • When you clean your fish tank, use the water you've drained on your plants. This water is rich in nitrogen and phosphorus, providing you with a free and effective fertilizer.

  • When you give your pet fresh water, don't throw the old water down the drain. Use it to water your trees or shrubs.

 

WATER-SAVING TIPS FOR OUTDOORS

  • Check your water meter and bill to track your water usage.

  • Check outdoor faucets, pipes, and hoses for leaks.

  • Make sure you know where your master water shut-off valve is located. This could save gallons of water and damage to your home if a pipe were to burst.

  • Winterize outdoor spigots when temps dip to 20 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent pipes from bursting or freezing.

PLANT CARE

  • Reduce the amount of grass in your yard by planting shrubs.

  • Next time you add or replace a flower or shrub, choose a low water use plants and save up to 550 gallons each year.

  • Plant during the spring or fall when the watering requirements are lower.

  • Use a layer of organic mulch around plants to reduce evaporation and save hundreds of gallons of water a year.

  • Minimize evaporation by watering during the early morning hours, when temperatures are cooler and winds are lighter.

  • Water your plants deeply but less frequently to create healthier and stronger landscapes.

  • For hanging baskets, planters and pots, place ice cubes under the moss or dirt to give your plants a cool drink of water and help eliminate water overflow.

LAWN CARE

  • Remember to weed your lawn and garden regularly. Weeds compete with other plants for nutrients, light, and water.

  • Adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting. Longer grass shades root systems and holds soil moisture better than a closely clipped lawn.

  • Aerate your lawn. Punch holes in your lawn about six inches apart so water will reach the roots rather than run off the surface.

  • Leave lower branches on trees and shrubs and allow leaf litter to accumulate on top of the soil. This keeps the soil cooler and reduces evaporation.

DRIVEWAY & WALKWAYS

  • Use porous materials like grasscrete to prevent wasteful runoff.
    • Bomanite of Michigan, LLC is a local grasscrete contractor. They are located at 23455 S. Griswold, South Lyon, MI 48178. Contact them at 248-437-2101 (telephone), 248-437-2110 (fax), or via e-mail.

  • Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway or sidewalk, and save 80 gallons of water every time.
  • Wash your car with water from a bucket, or consider using a commercial car wash that recycles water.

     

     

RAIN BARRELS

  • Using a rain barrel is one of the cheapest, simplest ways to conserve water and divert it from the storm stewer system. A single 55-gallon rain barrel (which are available from bottling or food processing plants for little or no cost) contains enough water to maintain a 3x5' garden for a week. Rain barrels provide several benefits:

  1. Free, oxygenated, unchlorinated, warm water for gardens, houseplants, and trees.

  2. A source of water in areas that have no spigots.

  3. Lower water bills (depending on how well you use the rainwater).

  4. Slowed down run-off into streams and storm drains to reduce erosion, sedimentation, and pollution. The initial surge of storm water after a downpour is most likely to overwhelm the storm water drainage system, causes the most erosion of the previously dry soil, and carries the most pollutants.

  1. Wait until you're in the middle of a small drought so that your barrel is empty.

  2. Tip the barrel over and try to empty as much water as you can from the spout.

  3. Lift the barrel off its stand and place it on the ground.

  4. With a spray nozzle on your hose, spray along the inside of the barrel from the hole used to connect it to the house.

  5. Take a small push broom with a detachable pole. Detach the pole from the broom head, turn the broom sideways, and push the broom head into the rain barrel. 

  6. Reattach the broom head to the pole inside the rain barrel.

  7. Use the broom to scrub the rain barrel on all sides of the inside.

  8. Spray the inside of the rain barrel again with the nozzle to clean out. Tip the rain barrel over, and empty water.

  9. Place rain barrel back up on its stand.

  10. Rinse out the gutter that feeds the barrel.

 

GREY WATER

Small home retrofits between $100 - 200 for indoor grey water recycling:

 

MORE INFORMATION

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