Save 27,412 Gallons of Water This Year

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Simply changing your mindset could save thousands of gallons of water this year. (Stock Photo)

We gave away 35 EcoFlow showerheads to Earth911 readers to promote smart water practices with our partner Waterpik! See the honest feedback our winners gave about their prizes!

A glass of water in the morning, washing your hands before dinner, throwing in a load of laundry after work – these things are daily routine for your household. But your water-consuming habits add up to 80-100 gallons of per day, requiring the withdrawal of more than 43 billion gallons per day from public supply systems. That’s the highest usage rate of any other country in the world.

Saving thousands of gallons of water in your home isn’t far from reach with simple upgrades and changes to daily behavior.

“It sounds simple, but turning off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving is huge,” says Craig Fitzgerald, brand manager for Waterpik. “Little things like that sound insignificant but, as a whole, add up to significant savings.”

We found four feasible implementations you can make in 2011 to save more than 27,000 gallons of water.

1. Upgrade the highest water-user in the home.

Savings: 4,000 gallons

Your toilet consumes the most water in your home, even more than the clothes washer. In fact, if U.S. citizens averaged only four or five flushes per day, it would amount to more than 5 billion gallons of water down the drain. That’s enough to supply drinking water to the entire population of Chicago for more than 6 years. Installing a WaterSense-labeled toilet, which uses 20 percent less water, will save 4,000 gallons of water and $90 a year.

2. Plug the leaks.

Savings: 10,000 gallons

If you’re not ready to invest in upgraded appliances, maintain the ones you already have. Fixing a leak can save a whopping 10,000 gallons of water per year – enough to fill a swimming pool.

According to the EPA, examining your winter water usage is a good way to check for leaks as it’s likely that a family of four has a serious leak problem if its winter water use exceeds 12,000 gallons per month.

Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, you probably have a leak. For toilets, check for leaks by adding food coloring to the tank. If the toilet is leaking, color will appear in the bowl within 15 minutes.

3. Wash full loads only.

Savings: 5,200 gallons

It may sound simple enough, but washing full loads of laundry and dishes can save major bucks in the long run because your appliances use the same amount of water, no matter the capacity. The average washing machine uses about 41 gallons per load and 425 watts of energy, and the average dishwasher uses 6 gallons per cycle and 1,800 watts of energy.

Fill your appliances to the brim, and only wash when full. If a household cuts its usage to three times a week for the dishwasher and two times a week for laundry, that family could save 5,200 gallons of water annually.

4. Invest in a low-flow showerhead.

Savings: 8,212 gallons

Of all the rooms in the home, the bathroom consumes the most water. Break it down even further, and you’ll find that in a household of two people each taking one 10-minute shower daily, that household consumes 50 gallons of water a day – costing you about 27 cents.

Replacing a regular showerhead with a low-flow showerhead would knock it down by 36 percent, and that’s just on your water bill! The bigger savings will appear on the gas bill as shorter showers take less energy to heat.

The low-flow showerheads of yesterday were paltry when it came to water pressure. Today, engineers have figured out a way to angle the direction of the water flow to make it seem harder while still using less water.

“The other way that you can save additional water is a handheld shower with pause control on the handle, so it pauses water to a trickle, knocking it down to a half gallon per minute,” says Fitzgerald.

For example, Water Pik’s EcoFlow showerhead has a dial on the handle that allows you to reduce water flow for times when you need less, like when shaving.

What is 27,412 gallons?

To put these savings into perspective, calculate your own water footprint to find out how much water you use on a day-to-day basis. You may only see those thousands of gallons of water as dollars on your utility bills. Behind the scenes, it’s helping to alleviate impending shortages – a recent government survey showed at least 36 states are anticipating local, regional, or statewide water shortages by 2013.

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  • http://wateraflamed.blogspot.com bladerunner

    I would also add

    5. Eat less meat
    6. Do not buy food products from regios suffering of water scarcity
    7. Buy less industrial products

    Check this water footprint calculator for iPhone.
    Free download on the App store

  • Megan

    I cut my water usage in half and my water bill didn’t change. When I contacted the company, it was because they don’t charge for the first 6 “units” of water (each unit is 780 gallons). So basically, when I thought I was “wasting” water, I still paid exactly the same – all surcharges and infrastructure fees. I was a little miffed, needless to say. It makes it a little harder to do the actual work when you don’t see any results in your checkbook.

    On the other hand, I did lower my electricity usage, and that bill actually went down. Yea!

  • Vipul Seth

    I did everything possible but still our usage was ~8000 gallons a month (for a family of 4). Then I replaced my dishwasher and laundry washer with High efficiency appliances and my monthly usage now is not more than 3000 gallons! That translates into at least $20 of savings per month. I spent ~$1450 on these appliances and received $175 in rebates. Even if I were to not receive these rebates, I still would have recovered the cost of appliances in ~5-6 years (considering the fact that the cost of water always goes up)

  • Gary

    I use between 2 & 5 gal/day. Virtually no water is wasted. I don’t need to wash dishes because no food is left on the plate and I don’t eat greasy food. I may lick it clean or pour water on the plate and use a fork to scrape off stuck food. I then drink the water from plate. The water I use to rinse out my running and tennis shorts & socks is use to water plants.
    Water is never poured down the drain. The gray water from my infrequent clothes washing in a bucket is for watering plants. I sometimes wash my hands in a small pail and add that water to the gray water. Here in the desert we get little rain, but when we do I catch the runoff from the roof in 5gal buckets. That water is poured into the toilet tank after flushing, used to rinse out the aforementioned clothes, and used to wash clothes.
    I don’t wash myssself as often as most Americans, but you couldn’t tell. I urinate into a container and pour it into the gray water. I flush for solid waste only.
    I’m not bragging, just saying what CAN be done if one really wants to conserve water.
    [I believe a unit of water is 748 gal, not 780 stated in another comment.]

  • http://www.bonfriends.org Rahim Munir Soomro

    Thats great article. I was amazed to see how much water we waste in just flushing daily. There is one more thing, i would like to add in this. Using a bucket full to plant trees, instead use it for the vegetable washing and then use it for planting. I have tried this on my own home and it works perfect. And the water used for vegetable is really very good for plantation purpose. It helps to grow plants so quick and thick.

  • http://IndeedWaterislife Princess

    Amanda dear, your write ups are always a treat, thanks for reminding us about water saving, especially as we mark the world water day this week on the 22 of March.
    Water is life and each time we save water we save lives.
    Good to now that Megan, Vipul, Gary and Rahim are conserving water already, please do let other friends and relatives know about it, again one can make a lot of difference though it may not show instantly but in the long run it ticlkes to lots ogf gallons saved.
    Another tip to reduce water is to forgo the shower business whether slow shower head or not. Just fill a bucket with water take a water bailer and scoop small quantities to wash your body and you will use exactly the quantity you want to.
    Water is a very scare commodity and we underestimate its importance as we take its availability for granted. One can only appreciate water the more when faced with a brief scarcity then we shall save every leaking trickle.
    Ha- Ha Its a great idea to save water in case of dry day.
    Cheers.

  • Paolo

    It takes time for the shower to warm up, so as the cold water flows, I collect it in used “Just Lemonade” bottles and water the plants, etc. with it later. I limit my shower time, of course.
    When we moved here from Seattle, I brought my rain barrel (provided at low cost from the city). It doesn’t rain as often here in L.A. but when it does, it really pours! Do Angelinos use cisterns or rain barrels?

  • Clark

    Here in the Southwest, many people have irrigation systems even if they have low water “desert landscaping”. Drip irrigation is the norm with each plant having its own adjustable emitter. Most people have no idea how much water their irrigation systems use as this is delegated to a professional landscaping or cleanup company who really doesn’t care about minimizing water usage. Even homeowners who do their own yardwork often have little understanding about their water needs. With a little research and trial and error, it is often possible to dial back the amount of water that each plant or grass area needs to stay healthy. A side benefit comes from not having to trim plants as often as overwatering often causes many plants to grow out of control. Also, turning off your irrigation when it rains can also save water.