Conserving water plays an important role in reducing your environmental impact. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, less than 1 percent of Earth's available water is suitable for use by the human population (see References 1). By changing your behaviors and upgrading some of your equipment, you can save water and cut your utility bills. Even small changes can add up to a big difference.
Altogether, showers, toilets, clothes washers and leaks account for roughly 78.9 percent of per-capita domestic water use in the United States. By purchasing water-saving products and changing the way you use water in each of these four areas, you can drastically reduce your water bill. Look for the Environmental Protection Agency's WaterSense Label when buying new shower heads, faucets, toilets, urinals or a home.
With most of Earth's water saltwater, frozen or geographically inaccessible, water conservation has significant environmental benefits. As water supplies dwindle, conserving existing sources is increasingly important. Methods to decrease water use range from simple lifestyle adjustments to graywater recycling. (See References 2)
Every day, an average family of four uses about 400 gallons of residential water (see References 1). When you take into account water used outside on the lawn and garden, that figure can rise even further (see References 2). Quite a bit of this water goes to waste, circling down the drain or running into the sewer without benefiting anyone. Your family may be able to save up to one-third on your water bill each year ...
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As world population increases, so do pressures on freshwater resources, making attention to household water consumption more important than ever. Fortunately, many opportunities exist for water conservation in home gardens and landscapes. Through thoughtful garden planning and practices, you can save time and money, encourage optimal plant growth and take responsibility for your part in protecting water supplies.
The average U.S. family of four uses about 400 gallons of water per day. Toilets account for the greatest portion of indoor water consumption, using about 26.7 percent of the total, followed by laundry at 21.7 percent, and showers and baths at 16.8 percent. Leaks are common enough that they use about 13.7 percent of the indoor water supply (see References 3). About 30 percent of household water is used outside, however, and about half of that is used for watering landscaping (see References 4). You can drastically lower your water consumption by adopting new habits and installing some new equipment.
Only 1 percent of the earth's water is considered usable, and as the world's population increases, demand for freshwater expands as well. Collecting rain for later use or simply diverting it to prevent waste is the essence of water conservation. Methods to utilize rainwater range from simple to extensive. All require extra effort, but with a bit of ingenuity the rewards can be substantial. (See References 3)
People who practice a green lifestyle often discover that choices which are healthy for people are often healthy for the planet as well. Adjusting your lifestyle to practice good conservation habits often has the positive side effect of getting you outdoors and active, and shifting your diet from unhealthy and energy-intensive processed foods to fresh, nutritious options.
The aggravated driver, speeding through traffic, slamming on his brakes and then hitting the gas to pass slower drivers, is doing more than driving aggressively. He's also wasting gas. Every time you drive, you have the potential to conserve gas, save yourself money, reduce harmful emissions and conserve fossil fuel supplies. The habits you practice on the road and the way you maintain your vehicle can save or cost you --- and the environment --- significant expenditures.
Water conservation benefits both you and the environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cites conservation as the most environmentally sound and cost-effective way to control our increasing demand for water (see References 1). Even small changes can make a big difference in reducing the amount of water you use each day. Your water savings also save electricity needed to treat and deliver that water to you (see References 3).
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)
Eco roofs, or green roofs, replace or cover conventional roofs with vegetation. They conserve energy by insulating the building below, which reduces the urban heat island effect, cleans the surrounding air, increases the life of the roof by a factor of two or three, looks attractive and decrease stormwater runoff. Roof gardens act like sponges, absorbing rainfall and allowing it to transpire from the leaves of the plants, or detain water for release into catchment systems. The performance of an eco roof depends on many factors, including the season of the year, seasonal rainfall patterns and the interval between rains, according to the authors of a study for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (see References 2, page 3-14).
Gardeners take pride in their beautiful landscapes, sometimes showering them with an abundance of water to keep them lush. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 30 percent of water used by households goes toward outdoor applications. Try a few design tricks in your landscape to enjoy a thriving garden that requires less water. (See References 1)
While water is a renewable resource, it is not as renewable as many people believe. As the world's population continues to grow, the amount of fresh water needed to sustain life also rises. According to the University of Michigan, less than 3 percent of the earth's total water supply is freshwater, and 70 percent of the freshwater is frozen in the icecaps of Antarctica and Greenland. Conserving water around your home will lower your water bill while reducing the strain your household puts on municipal freshwater supplies.
Even though water is considered a renewable resource, only 1 percent of the water found on Earth is available for consumption. The other 99 percent is either salty or frozen. The decision to conserve water whenever possible is thus not only a financial consideration, but an environmentally conscious one as well.
Preventing damage to the environment has become a way of life for many people, with zero waste, sustainable living and carbon footprint reduction becoming common goals in households and businesses across the nation. Selecting even a few actions from the vast array of options for greening the planet to incorporate into daily activities can protect water resources, improve air quality, reduce waste and raise awareness of environmental issues.
The management of rainwater is an increasingly important priority for counties and municipalities across the United States. Impermeable surfaces such as roofs and driveways, and the poor water absorption of manicured lawns, lead to storm water running into waterways, bringing pollutants with it (see References 2, page 2). Storm water also sits and stagnates in many locations, where it can breed mosquitoes and pose a risk to public health by spreading diseases such as the potentially fatal West Nile virus (see References 1). Homeowners can help by capturing rainwater or making it easier for rainwater to seep into the soil.
Soil is often called the "living skin" of the earth. In rural areas, it's easily visible, but in large cities, it's hidden beneath buildings and roads. Two important ways that people use soil are for agriculture and the support of buildings and roads. Soil surveys of large areas, geotechnical tests of soils at construction and farm sites and simpler home garden soil tests guide usage choices by identifying soil strengths and problems. (See Resources 1)
On average, 30 percent of a household's total water consumption is used on landscaping, but this number can soar to 70 percent depending on regional and seasonal demands (See References 1). Therefore, efforts to conserve water outdoors, such as planting regionally appropriate species with low water needs, grouping plants by their water needs, reducing turf grass and maximizing the use of gray water to sustain ornamental plants, can substantially reduce total water use.
Water conservation includes keeping water safe from pollution as well as minimizing water use (see References 1). Conservation has become especially important as 36 states face water shortages by 2013, according to the EPA (see References 4). Teaching preschoolers about water conservation guides them to become environmental stewards rather than taking clean water for granted.