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Water Use and You

17 November 2011

DrinkTap.org reports that the average daily per capita use of water in the U.S. is 69.3 gallons.  And that’s just indoor use.

Just think about that number for a minute.  69.3 gallons.  That’s over 5 tanks of gas or probably two years worth of milk for me.

So how do those gallons break down?  11.6 gallons for showering, 15.0 gallons for washing machines, 1.0 gallons for the dishwasher, 18.5 gallons for the toilet, 1.2 gallons for baths, 9.5 gallons for leaks, 10.9 gallons for faucets, and 1.6 gallons for other domestic uses.

This seems overwhelming, right?  There are some easy things you can do to reduce water use.  The first step is to deal with any leaks in your house.  Have a tap that constantly dribbles or a shower that never quite turns off.  Those drips build up over time to add up to a lot of water.

Another great factor to consider is how efficient your fixtures and appliances are.  The EPA says older toilets use 3.5 to 7 gallons per flush.  Yes, a new toilet is a financial investment, but over time that money will pay off.

At home, you could even consider using “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” and not flushing every single time you use the toilet.  That may seem a little gross, but it’s a great conservation trick.  Just make sure to flush before guests come over for a visit.

And older washing machines use up to 54 gallons of water per load, while most newer efficient models use about 27 gallons.  That’s half the water.

For those of us who rent, replacing large appliances isn’t really an option.  That doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do though.  The average faucet produces 2 gallons of water per minute and the average sink full of dishes takes 20 gallons to wash.  By turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth or in between rinsing dishes, you can save a lot of water.

Water Sense, an EPA partnership program has other great tips and tricks for reducing water use.  You can even test your water smarts, a fun combination of pac man and a quiz.

What other suggestions do you have for reducing water use?

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2 Comments
  1. 17 November 2011 4:09 pm

    I definitely use the “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” trick at home. I drink a ton of water and have to pee a gazillion times a day. If I were to flush every single time – holy moly that’s a lot of water!

  2. 18 November 2011 9:20 am

    I’ve read a few articles about “yellow is the new green” and I still have a bit of a hard time with it. I think it’s a cultural thing–when it’s ingrained in you that it’s rude to not flush, it’s hard to get past it without a lot of mental retraining.

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