5 Easy, Inexpensive Ways to Conserve Water in Your Home
Indiana is currently in the midst of yet another drought. Much of the state has reached an “abnormally dry” status, which comes with symptoms like browning grass and stressed crops. Portions of the state’s Western and Southern borders have reached a “moderate drought” designation, meaning that crop growth is stunted, livestock must receive supplemental feed, algal blooms appear in water bodies, and our creeks and ponds run low.
While conditions aren’t as bad as they were a decade ago, officials still warn that if the drought worsens, the state will soon be at higher risk for fire. Residents are urged to save water where they can to avoid tipping the scales.
So what can homeowners do to reduce their water consumption? Fortunately, there are a number of easy changes that don’t take much investment. We’re recommending five of the most effective and affordable ways to conserve water in your home.
1. Switch Your Showerheads
Showering takes up a massive amount of water. This is especially true in the summer, when many of us shower more often as a result of the heat. The EPA has found that showers account for 17% of household water use, amounting to an average of 40 gallons per day.
Switching to EPA-recommended WaterSense showerheads can significantly reduce your usage. Compared to standard shower heads, which use 2.5 gallons per minute (GPM), WaterSense fixtures use a maximum of 2 GPM. An average household is expected to save 2,700 gallons of water per year, and over 330 KwH of water heating electricity. In Indiana, that amounts to electric bill savings of about $46.
2. Add Aerators to Your Faucets
Installing low-flow aerators to your sink faucets is probably the easiest and cheapest fix on this list. It’s possible to buy a pack of many aerators for only a few dollars, and they can be screwed onto your faucet openings by hand, requiring no special skills or technique.
Aerators are available for a variety of GPM flow rates, allowing you to choose how much you’d like to reduce your flow. It’s possible to go as low as 0.5 GPM. Compare this to the typical flow rate of a bathroom faucet (2.2 GPM), which is almost as high as a standard showerhead. This makes it easy to see how faucet flows account for 16% of household water use.
Outfitting your faucets with 0.5 GPM aerators will cut your usage by about 77%, which translates to 18,445 gallons of water per year. If you choose to go with a less drastic level of 1.5 GPM, you’ll still cut usage by 32%, or 7,665 gallons.
3. Transition to Low-Flow Toilets
Toilets account for almost 30% of a home’s water consumption. While the current federal standard for new toilets is 1.6 gallons per flush, older toilets can use as many as 6 gallons.
WaterSense toilets, on the other hand, use only 1.28 gallons for each flush. Switching to these can save 13,000 gallons per year, saving an average of $140 annually on water bills. Over the lifetime of each toilet, savings can accrue to $2,900. Given that many WaterSense toilets cost less than $200, the upgrade can quickly pay for itself.
4. Install Greywater Recycling
Greywater is a term referring to used water outside of the kitchen and septic systems. It typically comes from showers, tubs, sinks, and even washing machines. Greywater recycling systems put this water to use once again, either for irrigation or toilet flushing.
According to the EPA, greywater can reduce your use of new, clean water by 16-40%. It’s even possible to recycle ⅔ of the fresh water that’s used in your home. A study of residential greywater systems found that households were able to reduce their water consumption by 17 gallons per day, or 14,565 gallons per year.
Greywater systems cost an average of $2,500 to install, but simple systems that run only from your laundry room can be as little as $700.
5. Upgrade Your Washing Appliances
Dishwashers and laundry machines account for a combined 18% of household water usage, taking up 24 gallons per day to run. Upgrading to Energy Star versions of these appliances will help you get those numbers way down.
Energy Star Dishwashers use 3.1 gallons of water or less, about half that of a standard dishwasher. Replacement reduces water use by 65% and energy use by 10%. When it comes to laundry machines, Energy Star clothes washers use only 13-14 gallons per load, which is in sharp contrast to the 31 gallons used by average machines. Washers that were manufactured prior to 2003 have even worse water usage rates.
Get Expert Help Installing Water-Saving Upgrades
If you’d like to implement some of these changes and start saving ASAP, Hamm and Sons can help. We’re one of Indianapolis’ most trusted plumbing crews, with over 30 years spent serving our city’s residents. Our professionals will help you get your water-saving upgrades done quickly so that you can have peace of mind for the rest of the summer. Contact us to set up your appointment.