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.