Water Use

 

We don’t need to tell you how important it is. It’s essential for all life, and not a commodity to be gambled with in the Futures Market (although that’s exactly what’s happening). Only 0.3% of all the water on Earth is available for human consumption.  That’s right – there’s a finite supply for a growing global population. We rely on unseen aquifers and a labyrinth of pipelines from rivers, reservoirs and dams. Most of us don’t give much thought to how water reaches us – we just assume that every time we turn on the faucet or flush the toilet water will be there. This system has worked for a long time, and it can continue to work, but only if we start using water more efficiently.


We use drinkable water to flush our toilets – meanwhile 40% of the world’s population still lacks basic sanitation facilities. We use between 1.6 and 6 gallons of water per flush – while over a billion people still don’t have safe drinking water. But that’s over there and this is here, right? Understandably, many of us really only have the time and energy to focus on our own communities. Unfortunately, even in our own backyards we’re seeing more and more signs of water stress.   

So what should we do? Well, let’s begin by being more aware – give more thought to where our water comes from and how much we use. Understanding our individual use will help us make the small adjustments that add up to big savings. We also need to move away from once through water use and move towards reusing and recycling water. Hey, even if it’s not drinkable that doesn’t mean it can’t be put to another use!


First Things First
Start by figuring out how much water you’re currently using so you can keep track of savings!
 
No Brainers
In The House:
  • Install faucet aerators (available free from most water providers) & efficient showerheads.
  • Turn off the water while brushing teeth and shaving.
  • If you still do dishes the old fashioned way (yourself) fill the sink with water for washing, then refill the sink with clean water for rinsing. If you let the dishwasher do the work, make sure it’s full before turning it on.

Outside:
  • Use native plants that don’t need too much water.
  • Use mulch – it traps moisture and adds nutrients!
  • Water in the evening or early morning. See if your community has a tool similar to Turf-Time – that tells you exactly how much water your lawn needs based on current weather, temperature and humidity.
 
A Little More Time
Check for leaks. Toilets are the main culprits – these porcelain Gods are the biggest water users in our homes. If they’re leaking you could be paying for over 20 gallons of lost water each day!
 
Reasonable Investments
Install efficient irrigation such as drip. Even a basic tube with holes allows you to more precisely target plant roots and can actually improve plant health.
 
Take Advantage of Rebates
We’ve seen agencies that offer the following rebates:

  • Up to $150 back for installing a low-flow toilet.
  • Up to $125 back for installing a high-efficiency washing machine.
  • Up to $50 back for installing a high-efficiency dishwasher.
 
Full-on Treehugger
  • Consider a compost toilet.
  • Look into graywater irrigation.
  • Replace your lawn with food garden (let’s face it, between fertilizer, pesticides, and fuel for your lawnmower, petroleum companies are really the ones getting the most enjoyment out of lawns).
  • While you’re waiting for water to heat up capture the cold water in a container and use it for watering plants.