A Consumer's Guide to Water Conservation
Water is our most precious resource. To be able to continue to take advantage of water for its important uses, it must be used efficiently. When Ohioans use less water to accomplish the same things, it will save money and help ensure a water supply is available for the future. The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel offers the following tips to help consumers efficiently use their water.
Why you should conserve water
- Only 1 percent of the Earth’s water supply is available for drinking.
- You can survive for a month without food. You can only live for five to seven days without water.
- According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the United States uses about 408 billion gallons of water per day.
Conserving water indoors
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates each US citizen uses about 80 gallons of water each day. Here is how our daily water usage breaks down:
- Toilets use the most water representing 18-24 gallons per person.
- Washing machines utilize about 15 gallons per load.
- A ten minute shower uses up to 20 gallons of water.
- A full bath consumes about 36 gallons of water.
- Hygiene (washing face, brushing teeth, etc.) uses 2.5 gallons per day.
- Dishwashers consume 4 to 10 gallons each cycle.
The EPA has developed the WaterSense program that strives to use water more efficiently. As part of the program, labeling specifications were created that will ensure the toilets and faucets you purchase are high-performing, water-efficient models. For more information on this program visit www.epa.gov/watersense.
- Consider replacing an old, inefficient toilet with a WaterSense model. New toilets use as little as 1.28 gallons per flush. Replacing a toilet prior to 1980 with a low-flow model can save up to about 13,000 gallons of water per year and more than $140 in water bills.
- Locate and fix leaks. An easy way to test a toilet for leaks is to place 10 drops of food coloring into the tank. Wait 15 minutes and then check the bowl. If the colored water shows up, you have a leak. A leaking toilet can waste as much as 200 gallons each day.
Shower & Bath
- Replace shower heads with an efficient model that uses no more than 2.0 gallons of water per minute and can save your household up to 2,700 gallons of water per year.
- To find out whether you would use more water showering or taking a bath, plug the drain while you shower. Compare the final water level to your normal bath water level. Typically, a partially-filled tub is equal to a short shower.
- Take shorter showers to help conserve water. Try playing a song that matches your target shower time.
Sink and Other Household Fixtures
- Turning off the water while you brush your teeth will save up to eight gallons of water per day.
- When shaving, plug up the sink and run enough water to rinse your razor instead of using running water.
- Make sure all your faucets have an aerated or spray tap. Aerators mix air with the water to cut down on water use.
- Make it a habit to fix faucet leaks promptly. Leaky faucets often require new washers. A leaky faucet can waste over five gallons of water a day.
- Strive to wash only full loads of laundry. If smaller loads of laundry are necessary, adjust the water level on the washing machine accordingly. Use cold water when possible.
- Wait to run the dishwasher until it is full. Let dishes air dry after washing.
Conserving water outdoors
- In the summer, watering lawns and gardens can more than double Ohioans’ monthly water usage.
- Consider watering in the cooler morning hours to minimize evaporation.
- Better yet, adjust your watering schedule according to the weather. Let Mother Nature water your lawn for you.
- Ideally, use a rain barrel. Collecting rainwater is a free way to water your plants and wash your car.
- Promptly repair any leaky hoses or spigots. And make sure your sprinkler hits plants not the sidewalk.
- When purchasing new trees and plants, look for those which require less water to survive.
- Use a broom instead of a hose to clean the driveway and sidewalk.
- Turn the hose off while washing your car.
- Mulch flower beds to keep the soil cool, reduce moisture evaporation, and promote growth.
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