Water conservation is becoming a critical part of daily life around the world. As populations grow, it is becoming more important than ever to manage freshwater use to ensure a stable supply for everyone going into the future. While the vast majority of water use in the United States comes from power generation and agriculture, reducing water waste in the home is one way we can do our part to help manage our supply. Reducing water waste in the home is not only easy to do, but can save a significant amount of money over time.
Breakdown of residential water use
According to the EPA, across the United States, a full 70% of residential water use takes place inside the home with only 30% used for exterior purposes.
12% of indoor use is leakage!
Shockingly, the EPA finds that a full 12% of all water used inside the house is from leaks. That means the average home in the United States is wasting nearly 8.5% of their overall water bill on leaks that could be causing further damage to the structure of their home.
Toilets are one of the most common locations where leaks might be wasting your water and money. Thankfully they are incredibly easy to detect and almost as easy to fix! To determine if your toilet is leaking, just listen to it for a few minutes. The toilet has a leak if the water runs to refill the flush tank without the toilet being flushed. These leaks are typically due to a poor seal of the flapper valve against the bottom of the tank.
To fix this, first ensure that the flush chain is not too tight and preventing your flapper from closing all the way. If that is not the case, visually inspect the flapper. If it looks torn or deformed, your best bet is to replace it. These are cheap parts that are typically available at any local hardware store.
Leaking faucets are another common issue, particularly with older compression style faucets. You can fix compression faucets by tightening the faucet down further or by replacing the compression stem. A plumber can hone eroded valve seats smooth or just replace the entire faucet depending on cost.
Cartridge style faucets are very easy to repair, simply pull the existing cartridge out and go to your local hardware store and look for a replacement!
Other ways to reduce water waste in the home
Install low-flow fixtures
Low-flow fixtures reduce the amount of water they allow to flow through them by restricting flow. You can often convert a normal faucet to low-flow by replacing the aerator with a low-flow model. Low-flow shower heads also go a long way to reducing water, as showers contribute to nearly 20% of all water use in the home and lower flow is not an issue with a properly designed shower head.
Installing low-flow toilets can be costly, particularly if there is nothing else wrong with your toilet. You can however, convert an older toilet to lower flow by installing a volume reduction sleeve in the tank. These sleeves are glued into the existing tank to reduce the volume of water used in a flush. They work quite well and can make a significant improvement in water use per flush.
Hands-free faucets can a great way to realize water savings in the home. They make it easy to use the faucet in short bursts while washing hands or rinsing dishes. When not using hands-free faucets it can be frustrating to turn the water on and off every time you want to use it. If your hands are full or dirty the last thing you want to do is touch your faucet. Hands-free faucets are perfect for situations where short intervals of water flow are preferred. Tapmaster even has models that allow for hands-free continuous flow for when you want to run the water while filling a basin or saucepan.
Saving water in your yard
Lawn and garden irrigation is another major place where water waste occurs. There are a number of ways to reduce outdoor water use in the home that can have large impacts, particularly in areas where people have large yards in hot climates.
Pick when you water
Choosing the correct time to water your garden or lawn. Experts tend to agree that watering your lawn and garden early in the morning before the sun rises is the best time for irrigation. It allows for the water to soak into the soil before the sun comes out and evaporates it. Experts also suggest irrigation in the evening rather than during the day. However sources indicate that watering at night carries a higher likelihood of moss, lichen or mold buildup occurring. This occurs because the excess water sits overnight rather than being evaporated like it would during the day. This is a small risk and is still preferable to watering at high-noon.
Convert to low maintenance landscaping
Converting outdoor gardens and lawns to low-water plants can be another way to significantly reduce exterior water use. Common ways to do this are replacing grass with gravel, sand, mulch or clover. Adding mulch to flower beds and vegetable gardens also reduces evaporative effects on the soil.