Stop Wasting Water! Three Ways to Manage Water Usage

Brett Freeman


If you live in an older home, you're probably already aware that it was built in a time of plenty. As in, "there's plenty of affordable energy, so who cares if it can be heated or cooled efficiently?" Older homes and home appliances had a similarly blasé attitude about water, but that doesn't mean that you should. Water is becoming an increasingly precious commodity, and there are a number of changes you can make to significantly reduce the amount of water your family uses.

Old Toilets = Overkill

If your house was built before 1993, your toilets probably use three to four gallons of water per flush. If your house was built in the 1950s or earlier, you could have toilets that use seven or more gallons per flush. To put that in perspective, consider that someone using a seven-gallon toilet will flush more water in two weeks than they will drink in an entire year!

If your house has toilets that use more than the 1.6 gallons per flush mandated by a federal law passed in 1992 (the gallons per flush, or GPF, is marked inside the toilet tank), you should replace them with newer, more efficient toilets. The new toilets pay for themselves over time via lower water bills, and reduce your home's overall water usage by 10 percent or more.

"I Never Leave the Sink Running!" Yeah, Right.

Despite good intentions, we are all guilty of walking away from a running faucet. Maybe you do it just for a second. Or two. Or maybe you get caught up doing something else, forget that the water is running, and only a few minutes later that's 10 gallons of water down the drain. You can prevent this water loss by installing hands-free faucets. Some of these faucets will only run if someone is standing in front of them, while others have infrared sensors that turn them on when something is placed under the faucet. Both types can save hundreds of gallons of water a year.

Heating Water is a Tankless Job

Although not technically a water-saving device, a tankless water heater can dramatically reduce the amount of energy expended to provide your home with hot water. A traditional water heater heats water, and then keeps it hot. When you are at work, your water heater is keeping its tank full of water hot. When you are on vacation, your water heater is using energy to keep that water hot. A tankless water heater uses rapidly heated tubing to heat water as needed. The rest of the time, it is shut off, using absolutely no energy. And because tankless water heaters heat water instantly, you never run out of hot water. If you ever find yourself with a house full of guests, the person who showers last will appreciate that.

About the Author
Brett Freeman is a freelance journalist. He also owns a landscaping and irrigation company in North Carolina. Previously he has worked as a beat reporter, a teacher, and for a home improvement company, and he used to own a bar/live music venue.

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