Beyond the Bin
Water Wisdom - Using Water Efficiently
Even though water is the most abundant substance on earth, only 1%
is available for human consumption. Most of the water on earth is
either saltwater or freshwater that is frozen in the polar ice caps
and not usable by humans. Population growth, agriculture, and
manufacturing all demand increasing amounts of freshwater.
Clean drinking water is precious because the amount of water on
earth is constant and recycled through time. This means some of the
water you drink is more than 20 million years old! Protecting and
conserving water is vital to our survival and the survival of future
Some of the environmental benefits that are aided by water efficiency
- Fewer septic system failures caused from water overwhelming the
- Healthier natural pollution filters such as downstream
- Reduced water contamination caused by polluted runoff
from over-irrigating yards and agricultural lands.
- Reduced need
to construct additional dams and reservoirs or otherwise regulate
the natural flow of streams, thus preserving their free flow and
retaining the value of stream and river systems as wildlife habitats
and recreational areas.
- Reduced need to construct additional
wastewater treatment facilities.
- Efficient water use can also
reduce the amount of energy needed to treat wastewater, resulting in
less energy demand and, therefore, fewer harmful byproducts from
- Most people realize that hot water uses up energy,
but supplying and treating cold water requires a significant amount
of energy, too. American public water supply and treatment
facilities consume about 56 billion kilowatt-hours per year—enough
electricity to power more than 5 million homes for an entire year.
The average American home uses about 260 gallons of water per day;
however, during peak season the average household can use about
1,000 gallons of water in a day. Some homes use as much as 3,000
gallons on a peak day!
Here's what you can do...
- The average bathroom faucet flows at a rate of two gallons per
minute. Turning off the tap while brushing your teeth in the morning
and at bedtime can save up to 8 gallons of water per day, which
equals 240 gallons a month!
- Collect water that runs until the
shower gets hot. Use it to water plants.
- Take a 5 minute shower
or take one every other day: You can save 3 times: the water, the
sewer, and the gas or electricity it takes to heat the water.
Save water and energy every flush: Over the course of your lifetime,
you will likely flush the toilet nearly 140,000 times. If you
replace older, existing toilets with WaterSense labeled models, you
can save 4,000 gallons per year with this simpler, greener choice.
Don't pre-rinse dishes. Most newer dishwashers don't require
- Make sure the dishwasher is full when you run it
and/or use a small trickle to wash and rinse dishes. Average
dishwashers use approximately 12 gallons of water every time you use
- Reuse clean household water, such as water you run until
it's hot, or water used to boil eggs or steam vegetables.
drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap for
cold water. You can waste up to 4 gallons of water every time you
let the water run until it is cold.
- Make sure there are no leaks
or drips: A dripping faucet can waste 20 gallons a day or more, and
leaking toilets can waste up to 500 gallons a day!
- The average
washing machine uses about 41 gallons of water per load.
High-efficiency washing machines use less than 28 gallons of water
per load. To achieve even greater savings, wash only full loads of
laundry or use the appropriate load size selection on the washing
- When washing the car use a bucket: Only run water when
you are rinsing the car off. Some commercial car washes recycle
their water and are more efficient than doing it yourself.
how much you are using: A good way to help you reduce your use of
water is to know how much you are consuming. Your water bill will
tell you what you have used in cf's (cubic feet) or ccf's (100's of
cubic feet). To convert cf's to gallons multiply the number of cf's
by 7.5. To convert ccf's to gallons multiply by 748.
Information taken from: