People Say They Conserve Water, But Do They Really?

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Do you think about your water consumption daily? How long should you water your lawn? How is your water bill calculated? Do you stop watering your lawn when it rains?

Most people, when asked, will say they try to save water at home. But do their actions back up that claim? If you carefully examine your own habits, you may realize there’s room for improvement.

How Much Do We Know About Our Water Usage?

Earlier this year, Orbit, maker of smart sprinklers, surveyed Americans on their feelings about water conservation and their actions (or lack thereof) to conserve water. The intention of this survey was to determine the attitudes and behaviors of people living in areas affected by significant droughts over the past few years. For this reason, nearly half of the respondents live in California.

The survey results were interesting — if not altogether surprising. Americans say they are conscious of how much water they use. In fact, 87 percent of those surveyed reported that they were thoughtful about their water consumption — even though many of their daily practices don’t do much to conserve water. And many don’t really know how much water they use.

Among the many stats reported in this study, two really stood out:

  • 42 percent of those surveyed don’t understand how their water bill is calculated
  • 77 percent of respondents believe they use between 1 to 250 gallons to water one-quarter of an acre of lawn (the average amount is about 1,400 gallons)

Insights from Your Water Bill

If you don’t know how your water bill is calculated, the EPA has some great resources to help you decode your water bill. One piece of information you may want to look at carefully is your usage trend.

Some water utilities provide a chart that shows how much water you use each day — and even the time of day when you use the most water. Aside from providing insight into your usage patterns, charts like these can help you spot leaks. If your usage suddenly spikes but you haven’t changed your water-use habits, you may have a leak in your home or on your property.

Watering Your Lawn Effectively

If you’re not sure how much water your lawn needs, here is some useful information: On average, a lawn needs 1 to 1.5 inches per week to stay green and healthy. This number rises and falls depending on the time of the year and your climate zone. It’s better to water your lawn once or twice a week with a good soak than to water small amounts every day.

The best time of day to water your lawn is early morning, just before the sun rises. The second-best time is late afternoon. When it rains, reduce the amount you water. You might want to consider investing in smart sprinkler controllers that automatically stop watering if it is raining or has rained recently.

Want to know exactly how much water your lawn needs? Multiply the square footage that needs to be watered by .62 gallons (the amount of water needed for 1 square foot). For example, 500 square feet times .62 gallons equals 310 gallons of water. On average, that’s how much water my lawn needs per week.

Another dilemma: How long should you leave your sprinklers on? First, find out how many gallons per minute your sprinklers spray. This should be available on the manufacturer’s packaging. Then, divide the number of gallons your lawn needs (calculated by the formula in previous paragraph) by this gallons-per-minute rate.

For more information about saving water, visit our guide to conserving water at home.

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Brian Brassaw

Brian Brassaw

Brian formerly managed the Earth911 Recycling Search and shared green living tips and tricks on Earth911’s Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter accounts. Brian also shares DIY projects on Little Pilots Lounge.
Brian Brassaw