I typically don’t look at my water bill and say, “My, my, my… I’m spending too much money on water.” But the fact of the matter is that water prices are on the rise. Where you might immediately notice the effects of your water consumption is in your energy bill.
Of course, saving water is always a good idea – after all, we don’t say “save some for the dolphins” for nothing. And according to Environmental Protection Agency, by the year 2013, “36 states will go through water shortages because of increased water usage and inefficient water management.” If you’ve ever had drought warnings in your area and water conservation measures put in place, the water usage in your home is also to blame.
But there are some ways to lower your bills and do your part to save the environment with some high-efficiency plumbing fixtures.
Toilets are probably the most popular choice in reducing water usage in the home. It makes sense. Toilets can use up to six gallons of water per flush. This just in: that’s a lot. That’s way too much, if you ask me. And to tack onto that, this is 30 percent of a home’s water usage, which makes it the main source of water use in the home.
There are options to lower your toilet’s water usage, though.
Dual Flush Toilets: These toilets use two different types of flush. It makes sense that it should take less water to flush liquid waste than it would solid waste, so why not do it. Dual flush toilets take this to heart and give you the option to flush for liquid waste, or flush for solid waste.
Composting Toilets: Think outhouse without the smell. These are typically dry toilets that store excrement for one year to let it completely decompose naturally. What about the smell? The excrement is typically mixed with some type of vegetable matter, sawdust, coconut coir, or peat moss to support the processing, absorb liquids and handle that awful odor. Sometimes the toilet is fitted with a vent pipe, in addition to the sawdust to filter out the smells. Then after the excrement is fully decomposed, this is safe to use as mulch for growing crops.
High-efficiency Toilets: The EPA is big on these toilets and has even brought out their own WaterSense labeled toilets. Typically, these use about 1.3 gallons per flush (as opposed to six gallons with older toilets). The EPA says that this will save you around 4,000 gallons of water per year.
While toilets account for about 30 percent of each household’s water use, showers account for about 20 percent of the water use in each home. Again, some people take longer showers than other, but the longer you shower, the more water you are wasting.
Showers can use 2.5 gallons of water per minute, while those gargantuan showerheads can use up to 20 gallons of water per minute! By switching to an ultra-low-flow showerhead (note: this does not mean you lose water pressure; rather, you’ll just restrict the amount of water that is used), your shower will use less than two gallons of water per minute. Not only will you cut 70 percent of your water use, you’ll also reduce the strain the shower puts on your water heater (read here about traditional water heaters’ effect on the environment.)
Faucets use the same amount of water as showers (typically) but we use faucets less than the shower, or for a shorter amount of time.
But how often do we just leave our faucets running with hot water (let’s say we want to quickly defrost something)?
Probably quite often. High-efficiency faucets use 1.5 gallons of water per minute, which not only saves on water consumption, but just like the showerheads, it will also reduce the toll on your hot water heater.
If replacing expensive faucet parts isn’t in your budget, you can also add water-saving aerator or flow restrictor to your faucet that will save you money and reduce your carbon footprint.
If every home in America were to use these types of fixtures, the country would save three trillion gallons of water per year and $1 billion per year.
If one out of every 100 homes were to use it, the U.S. would avoid 80,000 tons of greenhouse emissions.
Diane Kuehl is a DiY/home improvement professional, as well as co-owner of DIY Mother. She lives in Springfield, Illinois with her husband and two kids.