Five Easy Ways for Californians to Cut Water Usage
By Paul Abrams
California recently put into effect statewide mandatory conservation steps that established a goal of cutting water usage by 25%. That may sound difficult, and for households already in water conservation mode, it might be. However, for a typical residential home, there are many ways to cut water usage that make a big difference but which are barely noticeable to the residents themselves. Roto-Rooter’s ROTOGreen program makes it easy for homeowners to cut water usage. And for the DIY crowd, many of these steps can be fully implemented without the aid of a plumber. Here are five simple areas where you can cut water usage.
Take showers instead of baths. The average shower uses one-third as much water as a bath. Limit showers to 6 minutes or less and replace your old showerhead with a low flow model. We’re partial to the Niagara water saving showerhead. It uses only 1.5 gallons of water per minute – a savings of 1 to 4 GPM over conventional showerheads. The best part? This showerhead is so well engineered, you won’t believe you’re using a low-flow showerhead at all.
Don’t let the water run while shaving or brushing teeth. Replace your old faucet 3.5 gallons per minute faucet with an efficient news one that only spews out 1.5 GPM. We know that fancy new faucets are expensive so if you like your old faucet, you can replace the aerator on it that will restrict flow to 1.5 GPM or even all the way down to 0.5 GPM.
The newest ultra-efficient toilets use only 1.28 gallons per flush. Toilets made after 1993 use only 1.6 GPF but toilets older than that waste at least 3.5 gallons with every flush. You can spend a lot of money replacing old toilets or you can remove the guts of your toilet tank and replace them with a new dual-flush converter that will cut your water usage down to 0.8 GPF for liquid waste and 1.6 GPF for solid waste. Home Depot and Lowes carry these converter kits and they have easy to follow instructions. Still too complicated and expensive? Find a brick and gently place it inside your toilet tank. The brick will displace up to a half gallon of water and so you’ll get the same flush power but use less water.
Laundry – If you have an old style top loading washing machine, only wash full loads. And if your laundry load is small, be sure to adjust the setting on the machine so that it doesn’t fill the machine with enough water to wash a full load. If you have a new style front load water efficient machine, it should weigh the load and use only the water it needs to get it clean but make sure your settings are optimal.
Finally, the single biggest source of water waste is leaks. Almost every home has at least one water leak someplace. Fix those leaks and you’ll see an immediate cut in household water usage. You can see faucet drips but toilet leaks can be stealthy and hard to detect. If you notice a ripple of water in the bowl, that’s a water leak. Most toilet leaks can be fixed by replacing the toilet’s flapper valve. Watch this video for step-by-step instructions for changing a flapper valve.
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