Living Green: Water Conservation

Bathroom Water Conservation

Fresh water is a valuable resource. Here are a few tips to use only the water you need in the bathroom:

  • While brushing your teeth, washing your face, or shaving, don’t continuously run the water in the sink. Turn it off until you need it.
  • The aerator, the screw-on tip of the faucet, ultimately determines the maximum flow rate of a faucet. Aerators are inexpensive to replace and they can be one of the most cost-effective water conservation measures. For maximum efficiency, purchase aerators that have flow rates of no more than 1.0 gallon per minute. Some aerators come with shut-off valves that allow you to stop the flow of water without affecting the temperature. When replacing an aerator, bring the one you’re replacing with you to the store to ensure a proper fit. You can find quality aerators at hardware stores and home centers for $10-$20 each and achieve water savings of 25-60%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Check for toilet leaks by adding food coloring to the tank. If the toilet is leaking, color will appear in the bowl within 30 minutes. Check the toilet for worn out, corroded, or bent parts.
  • Avoid unnecessary flushing. Dispose tissues, insects, and other similar waste in the trash rather than the toilet. If you have older toilets in your home (those built before 1982), every flush uses 5-7 gallons of water. Newer toilets are designed to flush using only 1.6 gallons. If the toilet flush handle frequently sticks, letting water run continuously, replace or adjust it.
  • Fix leaky faucets. Leaks could be a significant portion of your indoor water use. According to the American Water Works Association (AWWA), leaks make up about 14% of all indoor water use. Fixing a leaking faucet could you save you 140 gallons of water per week.
  • Use the minimum amount of water needed for a bath by closing the drain first then filling the tub. The initial burst of cold water can be warmed by the adjusting the water temperature as you fill the tub. Be sure to use the least amount of water necessary.
  • Take shorter showers. Try an “Army” shower: get wet, turn off the water, soap and scrub, then turn the water on to rinse. (Some low flow shower heads come with shut-off valves that allow you to stop the flow of water without affecting the temperature.)
  • Install a low flow shower head in your bathroom. For maximum efficiency select a shower head with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gallons per minute. If you are not sure of the flow rates here is a quick test to determine whether you should replace a shower head:
    1. Place a bucket, marked in gallon increments, under your shower head.
    2. Turn on the shower at the normal water pressure you use.
    3. Time how many seconds it takes to fill the bucket to the one gallon mark.
    4. If it takes less than 20 seconds to reach the one gallon mark, you could save water by installing a low-flow shower head.

 

Kitchen Water Conservation

Use less water in the kitchen by following these tips:

Run your dishwasher only when it is full.

Use the most efficient setting on your dishwasher and air dry instead of using the heat setting. Tests by the Consumers Union show that pre-rinsing dishes before you load the dishwasher is unnecessary and wastes up to 20 gallons per load. Automatic dishwashing detergents can contain phosphates that promote algae growth that threatens aquatic life, when released into local waterways. Many detergents also release chlorine into the dishwasher’s steam and indoor air. Look for detergents that do not contain these ingredients.

Minimize the use of kitchen sink disposals

Sink disposals require a lot of water to operate properly. Start a compost pile or worm bin as an alternate method of disposing of food waste.

Store drinking water in the refrigerator

Rather than letting the tap run to get a cool drink of water. If you don’t like the taste of your tap water, purchase a filter pitcher or add a filter to your tap. You will save money over buying bottled water, and the energy used, and the pollution created to produce, ship, and dispose of all those plastic bottles.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (link to: https://www.ucsusa.org/), approximately 1.5 million barrels of oil (enough to run 100,000 cars for a whole year) are used to make plastic water bottles. Transporting these bottles burns thousands more gallons of oil. In addition, the burning of oil and other fossil fuels (which are also used to generate the energy that powers the manufacturing process) emits global warming pollution into the atmosphere. Only about 10% of water bottles are recycled, leaving the rest in landfills where it takes thousands of years for the plastic to decompose. Besides, tap water is actually held to more stringent standards than bottled water.

Control the aerator of your faucet

The screw-on tip of the faucet, called the aerator, ultimately determines the maximum flow rate of a faucet. Aerators are inexpensive to replace and they can be one of the most cost-effective water conservation measures.

For maximum efficiency purchase aerators that have flow rates of no more than 1 gallon per minute. When replacing an aerator, bring the one you’re replacing with you to the store to ensure a proper fit. You can find quality aerators at hardware stores and home centers for $10 -$20 apiece, and achieve water savings of 25-60%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.