Water is an often under-appreciated resource in our life. Even though water makes up three-fourths of the Earth’s surface, 70%of the human body, and we would die in 3 to 4 days without it, water is one of our most wasted and neglected resources.
By making some small and inexpensive upgrades to your home you could reduce your water usage by 20% or more.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Urban Green Council (UGC), the average person uses almost 100 gallons of water a day doing tasks such as showering, washing dishes, shaving, brushing our teeth, flushing toilets, watering lawns, and most important of all… for drinking. All of this water usage cost the average family $1000 a year and water heating accounts for almost 15% of your utility cost.
On average, water leaks in our homes can account for almost 10,000 gallons of water wasted per year. That’s nearly 900 billion gallons of water wasted nationwide every year. That’s equal to nearly 11 million homes.
Roughly 30 percent of household water usage occurs outdoors. This number can go as high as 60% in arid environments. If you water your lawn 7 days a week for 20 minutes a day, the amount of water used would be equivalent to 800 showers. Nearly 50% of all water used outdoors is lost due to wind, evaporation, and runoff caused by inefficient irrigation methods and systems. A household with an automatic irrigation system that isn’t properly maintained and operated can waste up to 25,000 gallons a year. A properly managed system can reduce water usage by 15% and save almost 7,600 gallons of water per year.
In addition to the additional cost wasted water has on your own direct personal finances, imagine how much it cost your city or town’s Water Authority. Many of our municipal water treatment facilities and sewer systems are outdated and struggling to keep up with our rapidly growing communities. The added stress to these systems cost all of us in increased taxes, indirectly affecting our personal finances and increasing our cost of living.
Set a Water Usage Reduction Goal
As an official EPA WaterSense partner, WeWentGreen.com follows the EPA’s WaterSense guidelines when it comes to setting water usage reduction goals and a 20% reduction in water is the recommended starting goal.
How to Meet Your 20% Water Usage Reduction Goal
There are many ways to improve your home water efficiency and meet your 20% water usage reduction goal. Some of the things you can do require no money at all, some changes can be made for under $100, and other changes can be more costly. You may not be able to meet the 20% goal and that’s ok. Just remember that no matter what you do any reduction in your water usage is a win.
How to Save Water Indoors
- Only run the dishwasher when it’s full. Doing this can save 1 load a week and save the average family 320 gallons of water per year.
- Turning the water off while brushing your teeth can save 8 gallons per day, and doing it while shaving can save 10 gallons per day. If you brush your teeth twice a day and shave 5 times a week, that’s nearly 5,700 gallons of water saved.
- Don’t let your water run while washing dishes. Letting your faucet run for five minutes can waste 10 gallons of water and use enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for 18 hours.
- You can save 13,000 gallons of water and $130 a year by replacing old, inefficient toilets with WaterSense labeled models.
- Replacing inefficient bathroom faucets and aerators with WaterSense labeled models can save you $250 in water and electricity costs over the faucets’ lifetime (15-20 years).
- Replacing showerheads with WaterSense labeled models can reduce water and electricity costs by $70 and save more than 2,700 gallons per year.
- By replacing the showerhead, faucet aerator, and toilet with WaterSense labeled products can pay for itself in as little as one year.
- Install a dual flush toilet, which can use as little as 0.8 gallons of water per flush.
- You can also use dry fixtures such as composting/waterless toilets, which don’t use any water at all (Check out our selection of waterless toilets).
How to Save Water Outdoors
- You can reduce water usage by 15% and save nearly 7,600 gallons of water per year by replacing your standard clock timer with a WaterSense labeled irrigation controller.
- If you hire a professional to install or audit your irrigation system, make sure they are certified by a WaterSense labeled irrigation program (Find certified irrigation professional).
- When creating your landscape, use plant species native to your region, this will significantly reduce the demand for irrigation. When plants are not adapted to local weather, climate, and soil conditions they require more water (Create a water-smart landscape with the EPA’s WaterSense Water-Smart Landscapes guide).
- Know when and how much to water allows you to keep your landscape healthy (EPA’s WaterSense Watering Tips).
- Check that your irrigation system is functioning properly (EPA’s WaterSense Sprinkler Spruce-Up).
- Sweep instead of using a hose to clean driveways, sidewalks, and steps.
- Use a bucket to wash your car or use a commercial car wash that recycles water.
- Use a cover to reduce evaporation from your pool when it is not in use.
- When water use increases during the summer months reduce water waste by knowing the facts and if a drought is declared in your area follow the EPA’s WaterSense guidelines to reduce water usage and waste.
More Advanced Water Efficiency Techniques
Once you have completed some, or all, of the water-saving actions above to improve your water efficiency and reduce as much waste as possible. You can look into improving your water efficiency even more by adding alternative sources of water, such as rainwater harvesting and greywater.
Rainwater harvesting is a great way to add an alternative water source to your home and can be fairly inexpensive to accomplish as well. Rainwater can be collected from roofs, and by other means, and reused for non-potable needs, such as irrigation purposes. Unfortunately, due to water rights issues, rainwater harvesting may not be legal in your area. So be sure to check with your local government before installing a rainwater harvesting system.
Greywater is untreated wastewater, and this is important, that has not been in contact with toilet or kitchen waste, that is blackwater. Blackwater systems do exist, but they are rare and costly.
Greywater systems collect water from all bathroom fixtures, except toilets, and sometimes washing machines for reuse outside and inside to flush toilets, water lawns, and any other purpose not requiring the use of potable water.
Greywater systems do require more plumbing and can be costly, depending on your needs the benefits could far outweigh the cost.