In this day and age of indoor toilets and aqueducts, it is hard to believe that there is a such thing as water rationing. Someone from an area that has experienced a recent drought will tell you that water rationing at 50 gallons a day per person and in some cases, 50 gallons a day per household is not fun. To illustrate the sacrifice required, it would be easy for a family of four to use 1500 gallons of water per day maintaining an average household and a garden.
Drought or not, water conservation makes good sense. Besides ensuring availability you can count on reducing the water bill. And there is another plus.
Water treatment and purification is a cost, like it or not, to which we can all relate. But when water conservation is in full effect there is another potential cost savings. It falls into the area of sewage treatment. That's right, sewage treatment! The water that drains away from showers, sinks and toilets all ends up in the same place the sewage treatment plant. The more water that has to be processed at the plant, the higher the cost. Example: It costs considerably more to treat a pint of waste carried away by the flush of a seven-gallon toilet than it does to treat a pint of waste carried away by one flush of a 3.5-gallon toilet. The water generated by a toilet flush, brushing your teeth, washing your hands, showering, washing clothes and dishes ends up at the sewage treatment plant.
As you read the following tips on conserving water, remember that conservation kills two birds with one stone: it saves water and reduces waste-water treatment costs. In addition, there is a cost savings at the water heater.
If you are on a public water system, chances are you have a water meter somewhere on or near your property. Besides telling you how much water you are using it can also help you detect leaks.
Water meters look a little like speedometers. Subtract the first reading from the second reading to find out how many cubic feet of water you have used. A cubic foot contains 7.5 gallons of water. For example: If the first reading is 006300 and the second reading a week later is 006400, then your use for one week was 100 cubic feet or 750 gallons (100 cubic feet x 7.5 gallons per cubic foot = 750 gallons). That's an average of slightly more than 107 gallons per day. In some communities all you need to do is read your water bill for this information.
To use your water meter to detect a hidden leak, turn off every plumbing fixture in your house for a couple of hours. And don't forget to turn off the built-in icemaker or the reverse osmosis water filtration system. They turn themselves on automatically. Once everything is off, take a meter reading. If the reading changes, a leak exists.
Most water use is in the bathroom, and that is where you have to be most careful. Don't flush conservation away. Most toilets installed before the early 1980s used five to seven gallons of water per flush. Those installed after the early '80s use 3.5 gallons per flush and today almost every state is mandating the use of 1.6 gallon toilets. If you are like most people, toilet use in your house constitutes 40% of water use. Converting from a seven-gallon toilet to a 1.6-gallon toilet can reduce your overall water use by 25% or more. A leaky toilet can cost you 50 gallons of water or more per day regardless of size. To find out if your toilet leaks, remove the tank lid and add about seven drops of red or blue food coloring. Do not flush for about 15 to 20 minutes. If the water in the bowl becomes colored, a leak exists.
Low-flow water fixtures also save on waste especially at the shower head. You may have a shower head in your home that allows a flow of seven gallons per minute. A five-minute shower can use 35 gallons of water. A low-flow shower head (3.5 gallons per minute) can reduce the water used in a shower by half. Multiply the savings by the persons showering each day and the number of showers taken per day by each person.
There is another hidden expense when taking a shower and it reveals itself each month when you get your gas and electric bill. The less water you use for a shower, the less hot water used.
By the way, low-flow shower heads are aerated and provide a spray similar to that of an old fashioned showerhead.
The kitchen and laundry also can be big waste centers. Dishwashers and clothes washers use 17 to 35 gallons of water per load. Be a good manager and run only full loads.
During the summer outdoor water use can run the needle off the chart. Washing an automobile can use 100 gallons of water and washing down a sidewalk easily can consume 60 gallons or more. Conserve and save.