Develop a Water-Saving Strategy: Start With the EPA’s WaterSense Program
The U.S. EPA has put together an online tool that helps homeowners develop a water-saving strategy. The tool the EPA provides is easy to use. It asks for your household size and gives you options to see your savings by replacing your toilets or water heater. A family of four could save 16,000 gallons of water each year by replacing a toilet manufactured between 1980 and 1994 with low water use toilets. This agency estimates that average American households waste 11,000 gallons of water per year, which translates to washing 270 loads of clothing. Besides wasting a valuable resource, if those leaks come from hot water faucets, the energy losses are even greater, since most families must pay to heat water. You can also calculate your water losses from dripping faucets by counting the number of drips per minute and multiplying that number by 52.56. A faucet with 15 drips per minute will waste 788.4 gallons per year. If it’s a leaking hot water faucet, that’s equivalent to draining a 40 gallon water heater 20 times into your yard or down the street. The EPA’s WaterSense program is similar to the Energy Star program, but instead, it awards highly efficient plumbing fixtures with the WaterSense label. Looking for this label when replacing existing plumbing fixtures is a good water-saving strategy, because it tells you immediately that you’re choosing something that will save you money on water and water heating bills for many years. Other tips for saving water include:
- Turning the water off while you shave or brush your teeth.
- Washing only full loads in the dishwasher and clothes washer, or adjusting the load size setting if your appliances have this option.
- Installing a recirculating pump for the water heater. Instead of running the hot water faucet for minutes, this pump keeps the hot water circulating, cutting the amount you send down the drain.