Water Conservation Around the House

Water SavingSaving water is a large part of going green. If you had to guess what activity or appliance uses the most water in a home what would you guess? The shower? The dishwasher? Washing machine perhaps?  Water conversation around the house is really, really simple if you start incorporating some of this ideas into your everyday routine.  

Water consumption comes in all forms, some critical, others more of a lifestyle issue. Critical matters are obviously hydration and cooking. Non-critical, long luxurious showers, copious toilet flushes, letting the faucets run needlessly, high frequent small load washes.

This graph from Carbon Visuals nicely sums up per capita consumption for a few select countries across the water consumption spectrum. It illustrates how different cultures and lifestyles impact water conservation around the house. It is really startling how much larger the United States consumption levels per capita are compared to other advanced countries. U.S. residents consume nearly twice and much as French consumers and nearly 4x more than their British counterparts.

In partial defense to the U.S. and Australia’s top of the charts status, agriculture in dry climates inflates per capita consumption compared to European climates. But nevertheless, the differences are significant and partly due to consumer habits.

Water consumption

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), approximately 30% of a home’s total indoor water use is actually accounted for by toilets. The average toilet uses about 5 gallons per flush (GPF), and older toilets consume about 8GPF.

Limiting the amount of water used by the toilet is simpler than one might expect. WaterSense labeled toilets use as little as 1.6 gallons of water with each flush. This is a major reduction from the standard 5GPF common in most homes around the US. If installing a new toilet is out of your budget, toilet displacement bags are available to limit the amount of water necessary to clear the toilet bowl.

Or simply do the old trick of carefully placing a brick or few hand size stones in the toilet bowl to reduce the amount of water included in each fill.

Toilet leaks also contribute to wasted water. The average American uses 100 gallons of water every day. Think about that and imagine 100 gallons jugs stacked in your kitchen.  That’s a lot of water.

The average toilet leak consumes 300 per day. That could amount to as much as $500 literally gone down the drain every year. The most common toilet leak is attributed to the flush valve. These leaks are often difficult to detect, as most of them are silent.

A leak can be detected by dropping a color tablet into the bowl once it stops filling. Wait about 20 minutes. If the color of the bowl has changed, there is a leak problem. With less than %1 of the water on earth available as fresh water for our use, it is important for us to limit our use of this precious resource wherever possible. Water Conservation: Dishwashing Habits The average person in the US is responsible for the consumption of 300 gallons of water every day. Although the largest contributor to indoor water use is the bathroom, from washing the dishes to washing vegetables and cooking, a lot of water goes down the drain of the kitchen sink. One of the biggest culpriwts in this arena is dishwashing, but it doesn’t have to be a major factor in water waster.

Save Water through Dish Washing

Dishwasher – With all of the advances in technology, there are dishwashers available that save water and energy. When choosing a new dishwasher, look for the EnergyStar seal of approval. If purchasing a new dishwasher is out of reach, you can still save water with the dishwasher you already own. Without pre-rinsing, only run the dishwasher when full. This saves up to 10 gallons of water. Be aware that running this appliance during peak hours of the day consumes more energy, could cause a power outage, and will raise your energy bill. As a result, washing the dishes at night is recommended.

Hand Washing – Washing the dishes by hand does not have to be a water guzzling activity. The majority of kitchens have two basins. Fill one with soapy water, and the other should be filled with water for rinsing. Washing the dishes in this manner will require only half the amount of water that would have been used by running the water for rinsing. This is the method that I use for washing my dishes (I just don’t get that “sparkly” clean look in my dishes otherwise). With only 1% of the water on this earth available to us for everyday use, it is important to save as much as we can wherever we can. Saving water in the kitchen is simple, and keeps you on the track to living a greener lifestyle.

Read: Shower The Navy Way, Hot Water Conservation Tips, or Outdoor Water Use.

Water Conservation: Save in the Kitchen

In The Kitchen – Drinking, washing, cooking, cleaning, rinsing, etc. – this is what your average kitchen provides. Basically every activity in the kitchen requires water (unless you’re toasting bread – then again you need to wash it down with something, right?). To ensure that your water use doesn’t become water waste, follow some of tips below to help you conserve water in the kitchen.

Drinking – Fill a pitcher with water for drinking and place it in the fridge. Many times, when someone wants a drink of water they run the faucet, waiting for the water to reach a desirable temperature. Each minute the water is left running 2.2 gallons of water go down the drain. This may not seem like much, but consider that each person should drink as many as six 8 ounce glasses of water every day. If you have leftover ice, this can be used for watering plants.

Aerators – Water can be saved in the kitchen by simply replacing your current faucet aerator. The aerators installed in the average home use 2.2 gallons of water every minute they run. This is almost the same amount of water used by the standard showerhead. Is it possible that you need as much water to wash vegetables as you do to bathe? I didn’t think so either. Low flow aerators have a water flow rate as low as 1 gallon of water per minute. These are also very cost-effective. Aerators can be found for $3 each.

Leaks – Leaks in the home can amount to as much as 10,000 gallons of water every year. Regularly check your faucets for leaks. Catching a leak quickly allows you to stop it before it hits that 10,000 gallon mark.

Cooking – Recycle the water you use when you cook. Place a bowl under vegetables and fruits that need rinsing. This water can be used for plant watering. The same can be done when draining water from pasta.

So, take a look around your home in terms of water usage and challenge yourself in finding ways to reduce your consumption.  Its easier that you think.

A few other related Green Blizzard insightful articles: Kitchen Composting Made Easy, Fast Food: Think of the Carbon Impact, Shave Some Meat Off Your Diet and Reduce Your Carbon Footprint, and Cold Cooking Challenge.


About the author

Danielle Jappah

Danielle brings a touch of southern US charm to our writing team.Since points of view on climate change vary depending on resources, economies, and political viewpoints of the region, we wanted a southerner to expand our point of view. The U.S. South has its own unique POV on climate change and Danielle writes from her office in Atlanta inspiring southern naysayers to wake up and recognize what happening everywhere.