Steps to Reduce Your Household’s Water Use

By Jimmy Rutland, 2018 President

Home Builders Association of Alabama

 

An average family of four uses 400 gallons of water each day, so it’s important to find ways to use water more wisely. Fortunately there a plenty of inexpensive, relatively simple steps that will make a big difference in how much water you use.

Fix Hidden Leaks

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, up to 10% of homes have easy-to-fix leaks that waste at least 90 gallons a day. In fact, a toilet leak could be wasting about 200 gallons of water daily. A simple fix with a few tools and parts from the hardware store could solve the problem.

A degraded toilet flapper can use the same water as leaving a faucet running at a constant stream. To check for a leaky flapper, put a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank and wait 10 minutes. If the color shows up in the bowl, you’ve got a leak that is easily fixed with a new flapper.

Your water meter can tell you a lot about whether you’ve got a leak. Find a time when no one will be using water for at least a couple of hours — maybe before you leave for work or a family outing — and note the water meter reading. When you return, see if it has changed. If it has, you’ve got a leak somewhere.

Eliminate Running Water

When you’re brushing your teeth or shaving, flip off the tap while you scrub or use the razor. Leaving the water running lets as much as eight gallons of unused water run down the drain (and run up your water bill) each day. Teaching your kids this habit will multiply the savings.

Outdoor Watering Done Right

Your outdoor watering techniques could be another area for improvement. Outdoor water use makes up about 30% of the average water bill – and most of that is used for maintaining landscapes. Yet up to half of the water that home owners use outside is wasted because of inefficient watering methods and systems.

If you’re using hoses and sprinklers, take a few minutes to ensure your sprinkler system is working efficiently to minimize water waste. Begin by inspecting sprinkler heads for clogs or damage. Then, ensure that your sprinkler heads are securely connected to pipes and hoses. You may need to replace the rubber washers to get a good seal.

Finally, aim the sprays to make sure water lands where it will soak into the earth, not pool on sidewalks, driveways and patios. Set water sprays as low to the ground as possible to give wind and sun less chance to evaporate the droplets. It’s typically best to water early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid peak sunshine.

To learn more about ways to save water or improve your home’s overall efficiency, visit epa.gov/watersense.

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