A television commercial in my area depicts water related appliances warning the household about wasting water. During an overly long shower, a message on waste mysteriously appears on a fogged up mirror. A broken water sprinkler head and leaking toilet asks to be repaired. The overall message of the commercial? Restrict your water usage to sensible levels to avoid your city having to forcibly restrict–or fine–you.
We’ve heard a lot about energy conservation in the last few years, and conserving water holds equal, if not more, importance. After oxygen, water and food win as the most important survival necessities. And, it’s a little difficult to grow much food without water. And the BP crime in the Gulf Coast illustrates how carelessness with our water sources screws up both water and food supply; and the survival of communities.
How often have we heard: It’s the little things? It often is with water conservation. A change as small as installing a low-flow shower head, which uses about 2.5 gallons of water per minute (GPM) as opposed to 6 GPM of the typical showerhead. That means you can save 35 gallons of water during a 10-minute shower, which saves your furnace from heating more water, too. Of course, most of us don’t know how many gallons we use per minute. According to the Maryland Department of Water:
To calculate flow for faucets (indoor and outdoor) and showerheads, turn faucet to the normal flow rate that you use, and hold a container under the tap for 10 seconds and measure the quantity of water in the container. Multiply the measured quantity of water by 6 to calculate the gallons per minutes (gpm).
You will need to convert the quantity of water collected to gallons before multiplying by 6. For instance 2 quarts equal .50 gallons. This converter makes it easy. You probably know this, but just in case. The reason for multiplying by 6? You ran water for 10 seconds and there are 60 seconds in a minute, so your 10 seconds represent 1/6 of a minute.
The Maryland Dept of Water published a paper, Conducting a Household Water Audit. Read the full report here. They also list other resources for additional information on conservation. The paper can be downloaded as a PDF.
You can visit any of the home improvement retailers’ sites to discover all kinds of water saving devices, whether it’s a faucet, toilet or water heater. Some of them even offer water saving tips on their sites. I like the Rain Saver Inline Shower Shut Off Valve available at Green Logic. This device allows you to turn off the water flow as needed, say as you smooth in or comb shampoo or conditioner through your hair. And it only cost $6!
Have a conversation with your household about conservation. Lead the way with your own actions. See, it wasn’t that hard to find a de-stresser to replace standing under a hot shower for 20-30 minutes.
It is the little things, but you make the greatest impact when you do lots of little things together. Only run the faucet during spitting and rinsing when brushing your teeth. Adjust the water temperature and turn on the shower when you’re about to get in the tub. Recognize that the toilet is for specific type of waste attrib-Dschwenand not stuff that belongs in a trash can. Don’t use the steam from the shower to “iron” your clothes. Let your hand or electric dishwasher wash the dishes instead of rinsing every particle off the dish beforehand. Water your lawn and not your sidewalk, driveway and/or street. Find out the appropriate watering schedule for your lawn and avoid over-watering. Wash when you
have a full, or at least a medium, load. Pay attention to your water bill: know your monthly usage; if the bill goes up, investigate the cause–it could be a leak. Locate and fix your leaks.
These are only a few ideas. For more ideas, check out 100 Ways to Conserve Water.
Most important, simply start making changes today. It’s the little things. Keep going, there’s so much more we can do.
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