Think about water. It’s yours for the taking, 24 hours a day. All you have to do is turn a faucet. But where does it come from? The water you use doesn’t appear magically. It’s a carefully manufactured product – clean, safe and piped directly into your home – a valuable resource that shouldn’t be wasted.
Water will recycle itself eventually. But the high-quality water that we need and expect in our homes is not an infinite resource. Besides, you’re paying for every drop whether it’s used or wasted. So conservation can benefit your pocketbook, too.
The average person uses about 50 gallons of water in a day. It varies, of course, with individual water-use habits. About half a gallon is for drinking and cooking, the rest is for showers, baths, flushing the toilet, doing dishes and laundry, washing the car, watering the lawn, and giving your pet a bath.
Everyone wants to help conserve valuable resources. And water is one of the most valuable there is. We couldn’t live without it. But what can an individual do to help? Consider these suggestions:
- Check every faucet in your home for leaks. Just a slow drip can waste 15 to 20 gallons a day. Fix it and you save almost 6,000 gallons a year.
- Put a bit of food coloring in each toilet tank. Without flushing, watch for a few minutes to see if the color shows up in the bowl. It’s not uncommon to lose up to 100 gallons a day from of these otherwise invisible toilet leaks. That’s more than 30,000 gallons a year! Every time a toilet is flushed about seven gallons of water goes into the septic system. There are two ways to cut down here – first, don’t use the toilet for things it was not meant for; and second, reduce the water per flush. Toilets should not be used as trash cans to flush away tissues, gum wrappers, cigarette butts, spiders, disposable diapers, or anything else that ought to go in a waste basket or garbage can. Most toilets use more water than is really necessary and work just as well with less. Instead of using a brick in the tank to displace water (which may crack the tank because of weight or cause plumbing issues because of disintegration of the brick), use a plastic soap or laundry bottle instead. Fill a few bottles with water to weigh them and put them in the tank. CAUTION: Don’t put the bottles where they’ll jam the flushing mechanism. And be sure you don’t displace so much water that you have double-flush to get the toilet to work.
- Don’t shower too long or fill the tub too full. People used to think showers were less wasteful than tub baths, period! There is no hard-and-fast rule. A partially filled tub uses far less water than a long shower, while a short shower uses less than a full tub. Five minutes for showering and about five inches in the tub is plenty.
- When shaving or brushing your teeth, don’t leave the water running. Run as much as you need, then turn off the tap until you need more water. Water running unused goes straight down the drain.
- Try to use automatic dishwashers and clothes washing machines with full loads only. Even when the machines feature short cycles, you’re being more efficient with your water when there are enough dirty things for a full load. Automatic dishwashers use about 12 gallons per run, whether it is a full load of dishes or just a couple of cups. This is true of washing machines, also. Many washing machines use 40 or more gallons of water for a full load. Save up your dirty clothes for a full load.
- Are you the dishwasher in your household? Remember to not wash dishes with the water running. A sink full of wash water and one of rinse water will do the job just as well.
- Don’t let the faucet run when you scrub vegetable or prepare other foods, either. Put a stopper in the sink instead.
- Most importantly, water your lawn and garden with good sense. Do it early or late, not in midday heat. Avoid windy days. See that water goes where it should, not on sidewalks or driveways. Stick a spade in the ground now and then to see that water is getting down deep. A good soaking encourages good root systems. Landscape with native plants to reduce water needs. But remember this: A single lawn sprinkler spraying five gallons per minute uses 50% more water in just one hour than a combination of ten toilet flushes, two 5-minute showers, two dishwasher loads and a full load of clothes. So be sensible. Check with local lawn/garden experts for best results, and check local watering regulations.
There are some conservation items available for customers at the office – come see if there is something that would help you conserve water at your home.