Water is something that has a different value wherever you are on the planet. In areas of the earth made up largely of desert, it’s increasingly seen as a valued commodity. In other places, however, it’s regarded as an abundant resource that will always appear at the quick turn of a tap.
The latter attitude is something that needs to change fast. By 2030, it’s estimated that half of the world’s population could be living in areas classed as under high water stress. It’s hardly surprising, considering the average human in the developed world goes through 747 gallons a day. With the booming world population, that’s a figure that’s just not sustainable.
10 of The Biggest Water-Wasters
So how do we cut down on our water usage? Well, we’ve come up with a list of ten ways you can start to reduce the amount of water you waste today. Some are small changes, but all will make a big difference to the future of our planet moving forward.
1. Doing the Dishes by Hand
The majority of taps in the developed world are able to deliver between two to five gallons of water per minute. Leaving the tap running while you’re doing the washing up can, therefore, see you use as much water as a dishwasher after just two minutes. Washing dishes by hand uses an average of 14 gallons of water, but if those dishes are also rinsed, that figure can reach as high as 33 gallons. To put that into some context, the average American uses 17.2 gallons of water every time they have a shower.
The Solution: A dishwasher. A modern-day machine rarely uses above 10 gallons of water per load. When you think about how much cutlery, bowls, and plates you can wash in one go, the savings become substantial.
2. Fixing the Dripping Tap
Have you ever had an annoying leaking tap around your home? The constant sound of dripping is enough to drive any sane person insane. Yet despite this, getting a leaking tap fixed is rarely seen as a priority.
One plumbing service in North Carolina has done the math and found out that an average faucet drip could be wasting around 347 gallons a year. Times that figure by seven billion, and it suddenly becomes very clear why the world could be running out of freshwater.
The Solution: Get leaking taps fixed as quickly as possible. The longer you leave it, the more water – and money – you’ll waste.
3. Washing the Car at Home
Let’s face it – most of us choose to wash our vehicles at home because we think it will work out cheaper than going to the car wash. A study by Kaady Car Washes, however, has proven that theory could in some respects be wrong. Using a hose to wash down your vehicle can see you go through 80 to 140 gallons of water. A car wash, on the other hand, only uses 30 to 45 gallons.
Stats from the construction engineering company Colas show that the price per gallon of water in the United States is approximately $0.005 per gallon. So, if you’re someone that washes their car at home every weekend, you’re likely spending around $3 a month for the pleasure.
The Solution: A car wash. Professional car washes recycle waste water. It’s often sent to treatment plants to help prevent the pollution of the environment. Home car wash wastewater, however, is usually lost down drains or contaminates the soil.
4. Watering the Garden With Sprinklers
Keeping the garden looking its best is never easy over the summer months. A sudden heatwave can turn a luscious, green lawn into something of barren land in just a matter of weeks if left unwatered.
One solution that many all over the world turn to is garden sprinklers. They’re reasonably inexpensive, easy to set up and save you an unmeasurable amount of watering time. There are, however, worries over just how much water they use.
In certain areas of California, for example, sprinklers are only allowed to be used once a week by law. It’s somewhat understandable, considering an average sprinkler system uses around 265 gallons per hour. In more human terms, that’s approximately three and a half bathtubs of water.
The Solution: Unfortunately, not all of us have the time to water our gardens, so sprinklers still serve an important purpose. A good tip to avoid overuse is to set them so they go off first thing in the morning or last thing at night. This helps to guarantee that none of the water evaporates due to the warm temperatures.
5. Making Biofuels
While biofuels are usually an environmentally friendly way of producing power, they do have one major downside: they require a lot of water. Powerplants that make biofuels typically use far more gallons of water in comparison with carbon dioxide emitting fossil fuels. Take corn ethanol as an example. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers estimates that the process involved in making less than a gallon of corn ethanol requires 170 gallons of water. That’s bad math in anybody’s book.
The Solution: Using more sustainable waste and renewable electric power will help to keep the world’s vehicles, machinery, and technology moving forward in a greener fashion.
6. Drinking Beer
The first sip of an ice-cold beer is one of life’s simple pleasures. You’d think that such a refreshing taste would be something that helps to keep you hydrated, but the truth is the exact opposite.
All alcohol acts as a suppressant to the hormone Vasopressin, which is responsible for letting the kidneys know when to and when not to absorb and hold onto water. As alcohol is also a diuretic, it means going to the toilet becomes a frequent occurrence on a night out. When these two factors combine, your body is essentially throwing away water. The end result of feeling dehydrated is one of the leading causes of a sore head the next morning.
The solution: If the taste of beer is something you’re just not willing to give up, think about trying an alcoholic-free version instead.
7. Toilet Leak
According to the EPA, the average American family uses more than 300 gallons of water per day at home. Roughly 70% of this use occurs indoors. A running toilet may waste as much as 200 gallons per day, up to two-thirds of an average family’s water use and leak accounts for 12% of water usage! Every time you flush the toilet, 1.6 gallons of water goes with it. Older toilets are also big water wasters, and if your toilet has a leak, that water usage can double.
The solution: A toilet leak is easy to check for. Drop a dye tablet or food coloring in the tank yearly to see if the color of the water in the bowl changes color. If it does, your toilet needs a replacement rubber flapper or fills mechanism. Old water taps can be replaced with low flow, high-efficiency models. Look for the EPA’s WaterSense label or ENERGY STAR certification.
8. Shower Heads and Faucets
Showering is one of the biggest water wasters. Moreover, older showerheads and faucets are not designed to limit the pressure of the water coming from your pipes. That means a lot more water is coming out a lot faster. While far more water-efficient than baths, showers still account for 20% of indoor water use and faucets 19%, according to EPA. Replacing a showerhead can also be tricky, sometimes requiring a plumber to replace your shower head and faucet.
The solution: There are a lot of high-tech features and options. Newer showerheads and water-saving aerators can significantly lower your water usage. Keeping your showers shorter and turning off the water while you lather will cut waste as well.
Shower with a bucket, and you could capture a gallon or more that could be put to good use watering your plants. Additionally, since you’re using hot water, conserving in the shower will also save energy.
9. Washing Machine
Clothes need water to get clean, but maybe not as much of it as you think. Older machines use an average of 45 gallons per load. If clothes or towels aren’t visibly dirty, there’s no reason they can’t be used more than once. Your laundry habits also waste a huge amount of water.
The solution: To reduce water waste, you can upgrade your washer and replace hoses once a year. High-efficiency washers use less water and electricity than traditional models and take more water out of clothes, so drying time is shortened, cutting energy use still further. However, wash only full loads!
10. The Kitchen Sink and Washbasins
The kitchen is one of the most popular rooms in the home, and the sink gets a lot of use. Not using a stopper when filling the sink to wash dishes by hand is a huge waste of water. Keep an eye out for leaks and all those little drips that can really add up. Often we forget to turn off the tap when we’re soaping up our hands or dishes or brushing.
The solution: To maximize water efficiency, install an aerator in your faucet. An aerator breaks up a single stream of water into multiple, more efficient streams. This reduces water usage without changing water pressure. Turn off the tap when you are not using water that is shaving or brushing or soaping hands or dishes.
If you want to reduce wasting water, buy new water-saving showerheads, faucets, clothes washers, or toilets. You’ll not only save tons of money in the long run but also leave a good environmental impact by taking part in saving water on this Earth. Look for the EPA’s WaterSense label or ENERGY STAR certification.