Saving water means saving money, no matter whether you live in the US, South Africa or anywhere else in the world. Rainwater harvesting and rain water tanks, as mentioned in the article below, are one way of saving water as well as saving money and the environment. Rain water tanks or rain barrels can be set up fairly easily – the size and complexity of the rainwater harvesting system can vary according to budget and needs.
Water is a vital and increasingly scarce resource. We can all do better at conserving it. Here are ways to reduce water use (and save money) at home—some simple, and some more involved.
Know where the water goes: The average four-person U.S. household uses 400 gallons a day. Nearly 30 percent is literally flushed down the toilet. Another 20+ percent goes to wash clothes, and 17 percent goes to bathing. An online water consumption calculator (www.saveourh2o.org/water-use-calculator) guides you through your own home water usage audit. Cost? Free!
Stop the flow: Turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth is an admonishment you first heard from your grandmother. Such “Depression-era” wisdom applies today. Don’t let the water run when doing dishes, shaving or brushing teeth. Take shorter showers. Run only full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher. A little awareness can save a lot of water: Cost? Free!
Stop those leaks: An astounding 13 percent of an average home’s water is lost via plumbing leaks! A small drip can add up to big waste. To see if you’ve got leaks, record the reading on your water meter. Stop using water for two hours, then check the meter again. If it shows water use, you’ve got a leak to find. Check toilets first: they can waste 200 gallons daily. To test, put some food coloring in the toilet tank. Wait 30 minutes. If the food coloring appears in the bowl, the tank is leaking. Cost? Finding leaks, free. Plumbing repairs extra.
Replace wasteful plumbing fixtures: Replacing old faucets and showerheads with water-saving fixtures allows you to conserve without even thinking about it. Ideally, you want no more than a 1.5 gallons-per-minute (gpm) flow rate for bathroom sinks and 2 gpm for showerheads, says the EPA’s WaterSense Program (www.epa.gov/WaterSense). You can measure each fixture’s gpm easily with a timer and graduated container. Turn the water on; collect for 15 seconds; then multiply that amount by four to find gpm flow rate. Cost? Measuring flow, free! Altering or replacing fixtures: $1.50 for a faucet aerator, $100+ for a new faucet, $20 for a showerhead.
Replace worn-out water hogs: Replacing old toilets, washing machines, and dishwashers with more efficient ones can offer big water savings. Older toilets, for example, use 3.5 gallons per flush while newer dual-flush models can use just 1.1 gallons per flush. Compare water-saving features when shopping. Cost? $20 for a dual-flush toilet conversion kit; under $1,000 for new washers and dishwashers.
Water your lawn less: Almost one-third of all U.S. residential water use—7 billion gallons daily—goes to landscape irrigation. To cut back, lose the lawn and plant a less thirsty, native plant landscape. Not ready for that? Then consider how you irrigate your Kentucky Blue. Apply just 1” of water weekly, early in the morning to reduce evaporation. Or water with collected rainwater; it’s far cheaper than municipal water. A simple rain barrel or rainwater tank capture system, like the Rain Xchange (rainxchange.com) does the job. Cost? Rain barrels can be found and rigged up for free. Rainwater capture systems can cost several thousand dollars.
Install a Graywater system: Graywater systems recycle water from sinks and showers for irrigation or to flush toilets. Such systems require re-plumbing water drain lines. Local health authorities may restrict graywater systems, so check your local codes. For more graywater info, visit oasisdesign.net/greywater/index.htm. Cost? Several thousand dollars.
Water is precious and scarce. Saving it is commonsense. While your individual efforts may seem a mere drop in the bucket, the combined efforts of many makes a sea of difference.
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