With the decrease in the availability of clean, safe water, consumers must take it upon themselves to reduce their own water use. Not only is this beneficial for the environment, it also leads to a reduction in water and sewage costs, which can be astronomical in areas that have very limited water supplies.
According to WaterSense, a partner of the Environmental Conservation Agency, 40 states are expected to experience water shortages over the next decade. Finding ways to reduce water use now will help consumers navigate through these shortages with greater ease and comfort.
So how can the average consumer reduce his/her water use? Consumer Reports recommends looking into replacing water-wasting appliances and fixtures with ones that are more water-efficient, and making lifestyle changes that will cut water use. By looking at water use room-by-room, Consumer Reports pointed out some ways that the average consumer can reduce their personal water consumption.
Water Use in the Bathroom
The bathroom is one of the biggest culprits of water waste, as more than half of indoor water use occurs there. Older appliances and fixtures can leak and lead to additional water loss, even when not in use. Consumers can take steps, such as replacing old toilets, faucets, and showerheads with newer, water-efficient models, to reduce bathroom water use. Replacing an older toilet alone can make a large impact, reducing the average amount of water per flush from 6 gallons to 1.28 gallons or less.
Consumers can also make some lifestyle adjustments, such as taking shorter showers, turning off the water when brushing teeth or shaving, and not using the toilet as a garbage can, that will help reduce daily water use.
Water Use in the Kitchen
There are many steps that can be taken in the kitchen to reduce water use. Not rinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, running the dishwasher only when it is full, and soaking pots and pans instead of washing them under running water are just a few simple steps that can be taken to reduce water waste.
Installing water-efficient dishwashers will also help reduce water consumption, as newer Energy Star dishwashers are 15 percent more water-efficient than standard models. Kitchen faucet aerators can also reduce water faucet flow to less than one gallon per minute, causing less waste.
Water Use in the Laundry Room
In the laundry room, consumers can reduce their water use by replacing water-wasting washing machines with Energy Star models that use 10 to 12 gallons for an 8-pound load of laundry, about 40 percent less water than a regular washer.
If buying a new washing machine is not an option, consumers can take measures to ensure that their current washing machine is doing the most efficient job. Choosing the appropriate water level setting for the size of the load (small, medium, large, etc.), choosing the right soil setting (heavy-duty vs. light), and only doing full (not overstuffed) loads will help ensure that the washer is using the appropriate amount of water for the job.
Water Use Outdoors
Almost 30 percent of consumer water use is done outdoors. Lawns soak up more water than other plants, and homeowners tend to overwater their lawns even when they are already healthy and green. An established lawn only needs 1 inch of water per week, which is often supplied by weekly rainfall (in non-desert areas).
To reduce water use outdoors, consumers can change the way they treat their yards, including watering less often, leaving lawn clippings on the lawn to add moisture and nitrogen, collecting water in rain barrels to use for watering plants, and reducing lawn size by adding mulch, ground cover, ornamental grasses, or other plants where grass does not flourish naturally.
Consumers can also save water outdoors by changing the way they clean their cars. Using buckets, instead of a hose, will help reduce water use while washing the car at home. When looking for a commercial car wash, consumers can save water by choosing a car wash that recycles water for reuse.
By taking small steps, consumers can make big changes in the amount of water they use. This helps the environment, while also saving the average consumer money in water and sewer costs.