Growing populations and increased water usage are putting a strain on our water supplies. By using water more efficiently, we can save money and preserve water supplies for future generations. Many people don't equate saving water with money, but a significant portion of your energy use is for heating water, and it's surprising how much you can save on your water bill, quite painlessly.
The average Canadian uses about 329 litres of domestic fresh wter daily. There are three ways to lessen that amount: repairing, rethinking, and replacing. Repairing involves fixing dripping faucets and running toilets. Rethinking involves changing a few day-to-day habits (it's usually easy). Replacing means upgrading to water-conserving appliances and fixtures when existing ones wear out. By following these steps in order, the average family can save thousands of litres of water per year, and knock a good chunk off their gas or electric bill.
Saving water in the kitchen can be as simple as storing drinking water in your refrigerator so you don't have to run the tap to get cold water. Other ideas include:
Repairing: A dripping faucet can waste as much as 833 litres of water per month.
Rethinking: A new ENERGY STAR® qualified dishwasher saves nearly 19,000 litres of water per year, compared to washing dishes by hand. If you do hand-wash dishes, keep the water off unless you're rinsing. Also operate your dishwasher only with a full load.
Replacing: Simply installing a low-flow aerator on your existing kitchen faucet will substantially reduce water consumption. ENERGY STAR qualified dishwashers use approximately half the amount of water as a 10-year-old unit. Also, the increased amount of insulation (which helps the water stay hotter longer) also makes them quieter.
One-fourth of all the water used in the average home is literally flushed down the toilet. Add in the shower, bathtub and sink, and you can see why the bathroom far outdistances every other room in the house in terms of water usage.
Repairing: It's estimated that one out of every five toilets leaks, wasting up to 1,900 litres of water per day. Often, a simple adjustment is all that's needed. Replacement-fill valves cost as little as $7 apiece and can be installed with a few simple tools, often in less than an hour. Fix dripping tub and sink faucets, too.
Rethinking: Don't let the water run while shaving, washing your face or brushing your teeth. A five-minute shower uses less water than an average bath.
Replacing: Replacing your existing showerhead with a low-flow version can save more than 7.5 litres per minute. Installing a new low-flow toilet can cut water consumption in half, saving up to 75,000 litres of water per toilet per year.
Conserving water outdoors can be as simple as watering your lawn in the early morning when temperatures are lower and evaporation is slower.
Repairing: Fix leaky faucets and hose gaskets.
Rethinking: Add mulch to garden beds to help retain soil moisture. Use a water timer on outdoor faucets to prevent over-watering lawns. Use an on-off nozzle when washing your car; this alone can save 378 litres per wash.
Replacing: Install a water efficient drip irrigation system for flowers, plants, and shrubs; it delivers the water to plants where they need it most, the roots. Purchase a sprinkler that delivers large drops of water close to the ground instead of one that tosses small droplets into the air where evaporation takes place more quickly.
Time to replace that old washing machine? an ENERGY STAR® qualified model can save you up to $130 per year in water and energy costs.
Just by matching the water level in your washing machine to the size of the load can save 37 litres of water per load.
Repairing: Fix or replace drippy laundry tub faucets. Install a low-flow aerator on faucets that don't already have one.
Rethinking: Use cold water wash and rinse cycles on your washing machine whenever possible. Operate your washer only when there's a full load. Soak and pre-treat stains before washing: it may prevent you from having to wash a second time.
Replacing: Standard washing machines often use more than 150 litres of water per load. ENERGY STAR® qualified washing machines use about half the water and 37% less energy to run.
While few of us are willing to give up the convenience of hot water, there are three ways to lessen the amount of envergy used creating it:
Thermal blankets that surround your water heater help to maintain the temperature of the hot water. Most insulating blankets come complete with special installation tape and can be installed in about 30 minutes using few, if any, tools.
Just as programmable thermostats can tell your furnace its OK not to work as hard when you're asleep or away, "smart" water heaters can be programmed to use less energy based on your schedule.