Is water consumption something that comes to mind when it comes to your household’s daily functions? Whether you “believe” in climate change or not, it’s still a good idea to be mindful of your impact on the planet regarding the resources you use. Water is an essential element for all life on planet Earth and I think it should be respected. Although you may not be able to directly change the water consumption and pollution habits of large industries, you have the power to make a difference starting at home. Take a look for yourself at these before and after images of California’s drought effect on the landscape. The last image gives a fantastic, yet saddening perspective.
6 Biggest Water Users In Homes
Below are several major sources of water consumption in a typical household in no particular order and tips to ease your water usage.
Water Usage Meters
Installing a water usage meter can help you monitor the total water usage of your household and can help you spot leaks early.
Industry standards for water usage in toilets have become more prudent in recent years. A standard toilet’s water tank size is now 1.6 gallons. Before 1982, toilets would use 5-7 gallons of water per flush, yikes! Toilet designs with two flush options (1.6 & 1.1 gallons or less) are becoming more popular not just in homes, but in commercial spaces as well. I have heard complaints from a few users that the conservative 1.1-gallon flush doesn’t do the job, so a 2nd flush is needed anyway, making the water conservative feature counterproductive at times.
Toto’s Neorest toilet comes in versions that use only 3.8 liters (just over 1 gallon) of water and a “Cyclone flushing system”. These features along with an ion barrier surface help keep the bowl cleaner for longer, avoid the double flush problem.
This solution may not be for everyone, but those on board the tiny house and off-grid lifestyle movement have a few creative solutions to water conservations from toilet use. If you really want to embrace this lifestyle, there are a few “out there” alternative toilet solutions to reduce water consumption.
The average American shower lasts about 8 minutes and uses around 17 gallons of water. While shower time does play a wonderful role in our daily lives for necessary decompression, relaxation, and the occasional brilliant idea, there are still ways to conserve water and pamper yourself. If you don’t want to switch to super quick military-style showers, there are smarter low flow shower heads on the market that use less water by utilizing pressure to give the feel of more water. Most low flow shower heads average at about 1.6 gallons per minute, but Bricor has created low flow shower heads with an impressively low 0.5 GPM. If you’ve had experienced this product, we’d love to hear about it in the comments.
If you’re thinking about a bathroom remodel, consider adding a steam shower. Steam showers are a fantastic way to detox and relax the day’s stresses away. Investing in this spa-like feature for your own health will also be an investment for the resale value of your home. When it comes to conserving water, Mr. Steam steam showers use about 5 gallons of water for 30-minute steam session.
The dreamy fantasy of the American home with a sprawling lush green lawn, unfortunately, does not belong everywhere. To maintain a healthy green lawn without putting a strain on your water consumption, it would be best to live in a climate with plenty of rainfall and no drought. Sure, you could supplement the lawn and landscape with a thorough irrigation system, but there are lower maintenance solutions to make life easier. Drought-tolerant plants that are native to your region are a must! If you need to irrigate, the best time to do so is in the early morning or the evening to avoid water from evaporating. Using grey water for irrigation is an option but often times requires a lot of maintenance for the grey water in order to keep it clean and irrigation pipes clog-free.
Another option for the yard would be to replace most of the existing plants with hardscaping. This could mean gravel, concrete pathways, half walls, furniture, etc. to make your yard usable, attractive, and low maintenance. There are many wonderful examples of attractive hardscaping from talented landscape designers and architects on platforms such as Houzz.
Compared to other water hogs at home, dishwashers are not so guilty. There is still an ongoing debate whether it is more water efficient to wash dishes by hand or use the dishwasher; it depends on many factors. Factors that can make using the dishwasher less water efficient are having an old dishwasher model, pre-rinsing dishes, and running the dishwasher without a full load. Luckily, newer models have gotten more efficient as consumers demand water consumption efficiency in products. A quality dishwasher shouldn’t require a pre-rinse anyway. Check out this roundup of efficient dishwashers for 2016 along with helpful specifications.
High-efficiency washing machines are becoming the norm with their 15-30 gallons of water usage per load. Much like dishwashers, factors such as load size contribute to how much you stretch your water usage. Although these are mostly used in commercial applications, British company Xeros has developed washing machines that clean your clothes with polymer beads and minimal water.
Portable washing machines may be just the solution for tiny home dwellers, college students, or anyone needing a quick off-grid way to clean clothes with minimal water. Depending on the brand, there are electric and manual models available the work with just a few cranks of a lever. You’d be surprised how much can fit in these small machines.
Have you ever heard of Shade Balls? Shade Balls are a brilliant idea by Sydney Chase designed to protect important bodies of water in drought stricken areas from evaporation. The same concept could be applied to your backyard pool, no matter the size, to prevent water from unnecessarily evaporating away. When not in use, a UV protected sliding pool cover could be used to protect pool water during intense midday sun and weeks without use.