How You Use Water Inside Your Home
In this day and age of indoor toilets and aqueducts it is hard to believe that there is a such thing as water rationing. What’s all this business about water rationing? If you don’t believe that it’s happening in towns from coast to coast all you have to do is ask around. Someone who has experienced a drought recently will tell you that water rationing at 50 gallons a day per person (and in some cases — 50 gallons per day per household), is not a fun situation. Want a comparison? It would be easy for a family of four to use 1500 gallons of water per day trying to maintain an average household and a garden.
But drought or not, water conservation makes good sense. Besides insuring availability you can count on reducing the water bill. And there is another plus.
Water treatment and purification is a cost that, like it or not, we can all relate to. But when water conservation is in full effect there is another potential cost savings. And it lies in 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 sewage treatment plant the higher the cost. Example: It costs considerably more to treat a pint of waste carried away by the flush of a 7 gallon toilet than it does to treat a pint of waste carried away by one flush of a 3.5 gallon toilet. So don’t forget—the water generated by a toilet flush, brushing your teeth, washing your hands, showering, washing clothes and dishes and more all ends up at the sewage treatment plant.
And you thought the cost of water was just the cost of water. Oh boy!
So, as you read the following tips on how to conserve water remember—you are killing two birds with one stone. Saving water and reducing wastewater treatment costs. Oh, and don’t forget the cost savings at the water heater. Read on to find out more on this one.
HOW MUCH WATER ARE YOU USING
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 a speedometer. 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), an average of slightly more than 107 gallons per day. In some communities all you need to do is read your water bill to find out this information.
To use your water meter to detect a hidden leak all you have to do is 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. Anyway, once everything is off, take a meter reading. If the reading changes a leak exists.
Most water gets used in the bathroom, so that is where you have to be most careful. Don’t flush conservation away. Most toilets installed before the early 1980’s used 5 to 7 gallons of water per flush. Those installed between the early 1980’s and most recently 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 your water use. Converting from a 7 gallon toilet to a 1.6 gallon toilet can reduce your overall water use by 25% or more. Do you see the dollar savings in that Scotty? By the way, a leaky toilet can cost you 50 gallons of water or more per day—regardless of its size. Want to find out if your toilet leaks? Remove the tank lid and add about 7 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 showerhead. You may have a showerhead in your home that allows a flow of 7 gallons per minute. A five-minute shower can use 35 gallons of water. A low flow showerhead (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 manifests itself each month when you get your gas and electric bill. Remember the less water you use for a shower the less hot water needed to get the job done. And by the way, low flow showerheads are aerated and feel very similar to a shower you might take with an old fashioned showerhead. Try it you just might like it. Can you afford not to?
The kitchen and laundry also can be big waste centers. Dish and clothes washers can use 17 to 35 gallons of water per load. Be a good manager and only run 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. And, good luck!
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