Let’s try this exercise again, but switch from electricity to a different utility. The mean household spend on water in the U.S. per year is $645 . For as much water as Americans use – 80 – 100 gallons per person per day (29,000 – 36,500 gallons per year), that might seem pretty cheap (and it is). But, much of that use is preventable.
And while water may seem cheap, on the surface, keep in mind that many of the top water uses need heat to raise the temperature. This dramatically increases your heating costs – as water is not cheap to heat.
Lets go for Pareto’s Principle here. The top 5 uses of water in most houses are (by far):
- Clothes washing
- Dish washing
- Lawn watering
- Flushing old toilets & not fixing leaky ones
Fix these five areas, and you could cut your water use in half or more.
So. let’s address some simple wins in each area.
If you haven’t switched to a low flow showerhead, do it immediately. Old showerheads use 5 gallons+ per minute (gpm). Low-flow showerheads use under 2.5 gpm. I use this 1.85 gpm showerhead, and it gives one of the nicest showers I’ve ever had. I’ve also tried a 1 gpm unit and the results were poor – so I understand that there is a balance.
A 2.5 gallon-per-minute (gpm) unit can literally save a family of four $260 per year in heating costs alone vs. an older 5.5 gallon unit. So the ROI on these things are tremendous.
Most showerheads have a little gpm # labeled on them. If yours doesn’t, you can use a bucket and timer to find out what the output of your showerhead is.
Also, bathing does not save water – that is a myth. Plus, who wants to sit in a pool of their own filth? Not I.
2. Clothes Washing
This may sound simple, but if it doesn’t stink, don’t wash it. This also has the benefit of allowing your clothing to last longer.
And, if you do wash it, use lower water levels, cold water (especially for darks), and in the cheap energy efficient model that you buy when your older model becomes unrepairable.
There’s an even more efficient option that also results in a simultaneous workout: bucket + plunger.
3. Dish Washing
Energy Star dishwashers are obvious water savers, but not as much as you might think. Energy Star estimates a new Energy Star dishwasher saves an average of 1,300 gallons of water over its lifetime. That’s not much when you consider that a person uses around 30,000 gallons of water annually.
So here’s a quicker, cheaper win: get a faucet aerator for your kitchen (and bathrooms while you’re at it). At a few dollars each, the ROI will be astronomical.
4. Lawn Watering
Just. Don’t. Do. It.
If you need any motivation, read my post on how much it costs to water your lawn. Slowly replace as much grass in your lawn as you can with garden space, including native plants and fresh veggies!
5. Old and Leaky Toilets
If you have a toilet installed before 1992, it is not efficient. Most toilets put in after 1992 are 1.6 gpf (gallons per flush) or lower.
Energy Star estimates a family of four can save 16,000 gallons of water per year by making this change. And toilets are cheap ($100 is a good guideline).
Once you’ve made sure all your toilets are efficient, check to make sure there are no leaks. Simply drop some dye or dark juice in to the tank. Wait 5 minutes (without flushing), and see if the water in the bowl has turned to the color of the dye. If it has, you probably have a bad flapper that needs upgrading. Easy 1 minute DIY project.
Water Saving Tips:
- How much is your water bill and how many people are in your household?
- Which of these changes have you made or are on your list?
- What other water saving tips do you have?