Saving Money On Your Utility By Saving More Water
Water can be easily wasted during any of the following activities:
• Landscape irrigation
• Hosing down walks and drives
• Washing automobiles and other vehicles
• Clothes washing
• Toilet flushing
• Water heater over-heating
• Pressure regulators set too high
Most water gets used in the bathroom, so that is where you have to be most careful. Don’t flush conservation away. Most toilets installed before the early 1980’s used 5 to 7 gallons of water per flush. Those installed between the early 1980’s and most recently use 3.5 gallons per flush and today almost every state is mandating the use of 1.6 gallon toilets. If you are like most people toilet use in your house constitutes 40% of your water use. Converting from a 7 gallon toilet to a 1.6 gallon toilet can reduce your overall water use by 25% or more. Do you see the dollar savings in that Scotty? By the way, a leaky toilet can cost you 50 gallons of water or more per day—regardless of it’s size. Want to find out if your toilet leaks? Remove the tank lid and add about 7 drops of red or blue food coloring. Do not flush for about 15 to 20 minutes. If the water in the bowl becomes colored a leak exists.
Low flow water fixtures also save on waste—especially at the shower head. You may have a showerhead in your home that allows a flow of 7 gallons per minute. A five minute shower can use 35 gallons of water. A low flow shower head (3.5 gallons per minute) can reduce the water used in a shower by half. Multiply the savings by the persons showering each day and the number of showers taken per day by each person.
There is another hidden expense when taking a shower and it manifests itself each month when you get your gas and electric bill. Remember the less water you use for a shower the less hot water needed to get the job done. And by the way, low flow showerheads are aerated and feel very similar to a shower you might take with an old fashioned showerhead. Try it you just might like it. Can you afford not to?
Water heating is an important issue. The hotter the water in your heater, the more cold water it will take to cool it in a mixing situation (i.e., clothes washer, shower, etc.). Bleed your water heater every six months or so. Air in the tank will cause over-heating, and may result in water being lost through the pressure overflow valve. The easiest way to bleed the water heater is to open the drain valve at the bottom until the water coming out stops sputtering. Usually two to three gallons are lost. A bucket, eye protection, rain gear and heavy rubber gloves will help. Remember the water that will burst out is hot.
The kitchen and laundry also can be big waste centers. Dish and clothes washers can use 15 to 50 gallons of water per load. Be a good manager and only run full loads. For clothes washing, cut down on recommended detergent levels (approximately 20%), and eliminate extra rinses. Use completely full loads or adjust the water level (if your machine allows).
During the summer outdoor water use can run the needle off the chart. Washing an automobile can use 100 gallons of water and washing down a sidewalk easily can consume 60 gallons or more.
Another wonderful way to save water is to precisely control water pressure as it enters your home. This, appropriately enough, is done with a water pressure regulator. If you have a regulator, adjust it so that the pressure does not exceed 60 lbs. If you don’t, buy a water pressure gauge ($12) with a garden-hose fitting. Hand screw it onto the faucet closest to where the main water line enters your home. Turn the faucet on with the gauge in place and read the number behind the needle. Regulator or no, it is wise to make this pressure check. High water pressure is not only wasteful, but can do damage to dishwashers and washing machines. Many appliance warranties are voided when pressure exceeds 100 lbs. Unfortunately, hiring out the installation of a water pressure regulator can cost several hundred dollars.
Conserve and save. And, good luck!