Less than 1 percent of Earth's water is drinkable. In America, water is relatively plentiful, and a typical household uses approximately 260 gallons of water every single day. Tap water has to be processed, which takes energy and costs money. The more water that is used, the more it costs environmentally and financially. (See References 1)
In the Bathroom
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, toilets are by far the biggest water wasters in most houses. Older toilets use up to 3.5 gallons every time they are flushed. Toilets manufactured after 1992 are much more efficient: Switching to a newer model can save a family of four up to $2,000 in water bills over the toilet's lifetime. (See References 1) People who can't afford to switch can displace some water by putting a milk jug full of pebbles and water into the tank. This practice can save up to 1 gallon per flush (see References 2). Turning off the tap while brushing their teeth will save people up to 3,000 gallons of water a year. Installing a low-flow showerhead, which can cost as little as $10, can reduce shower water use by 25 to 60 percent. (See References 1)
Laundry and Dishes
The average washing machine uses 41 gallons of water for every load, while new energy-efficient washers use up to 50 percent less water (see References 1). Dishwashers are water hogs, too, but people don't have to stop using them if they fill appliances completely before running them. Running the dishwasher only when it's full can save 10 to 20 gallons of water a day. People who wash dishes by hand should fill up the sink instead of letting the water run to avoid wasting about 5 gallons every two minutes. (See References 2)
The average lawn absorbs 10,000 gallons of water each year (see References 1). Homeowners who reduce the amount of turf grass they're growing will automatically save water. The best way to save water in the garden is to grow plants that thrive in local climates. They'll need less care and waste much less water. Gardeners who want to water plants should do so in the cool early morning and not let sprinklers water the sidewalks. Trickle irrigation and drip irrigation work best and can be very easy to use. (See References 4) Rain barrels can collect rainfall for watering houseplants and gardens. A rain barrel can save 1,300 gallons of water in the summer (see References 1).
Conserve water by making lifestyle changes. For example, save dishwater, bathwater and laundry rinse water. This is known as grey water, and it can be reused for gardening, washing your car and other nonpotable uses. Install a composting toilet, a simple free-standing structure outside the home that uses no water. People who aren't ready to make such extreme changes can conserve water by checking their toilets and plumbing for leaks, affixing faucet aerators and low-flow heads and adding pressure-reducing valves to slow the flow through water pipes. (See References 2)
An award-winning blogger, Jessica Blue has been promoting sustainability, natural health and a do-it-yourself attitude since graduating University of California, Berkeley in 2000. Her work, seen in a wide variety of publications, advocates an environmentally-responsible and healthy lifestyle.
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