We moved into our home in 2006. While there were a ton of projects that needed to be done, one of the easiest is to reduce your water usage. Given the state of water in the world and the desert southwest (whether we admit it or not), it was a priority for us to immediately reduce our water footprint.
The best way to start this off is by performing a water audit. A water audit is taking an inventory of your existing fixtures and their water use, whether it be gallons per minute, as is the case with shower fixtures, or gallons per use, as is the case with a toilets and dishwashers. Then, to be more accurate, keep track of how often you use each fixture over the course of a month. Once you have these two numbers, you can calculate how much water you are using in any given month. Once you know where your heaviest water usages are for your family, you can start to prioritize what changes will have the biggest impact. You don’t have to do it all the first time, but create a plan and stick to it.
In our home, we found that showers and toilets were the biggest consumers, so we started there. I will post more about those in future posts.
Some helpful tips when doing an audit:
- Time your showers to determine your shower water usage accurately. Do this at least 10 times to get a good average.
- Use a single gallon container for determining flow rates. For your showers and bathroom sinks, time how long it takes to fill up the container. For showers, if it fills up in 24 sec. or less, it is a water hog and doesn’t even meet current regulations. For Sinks, if it fills up in less than 60 sec. then you should look to put in a new aerator. Anything more than 1 gpm for sinks is too much and an aerator costs about $5 anyway.
- There is no such thing as a low-flow tub fixture… don’t be fooled by marketing. Tubs are not about being low flow, they are about filling up the tub as quickly as possible. The secret with tubs is to take less baths. Or take the bathwater and use it outside for irrigation.
- Keep a chart in the bathroom so that you can mark off how often the toilets get used. Kids love magnets if you need ways to get them involved.
- Put a flow meter on your landscape water supply line. This will very accurately show you how much water you are using. Leave it on, so you can check it each month to verify that you don’t have any leaks. If the number seems high… call a professional to have it inspected for potential leaks. (remember 70% of your water use is outside)
- Check with the manufacturer for water usage for your dishwasher and washing machine. Every cycle is different so a flow meter to test this is helpful as well.
This should get your started. Good luck.