On average, humans need approximately 13 gallons of water a day. In the U.S. the average family uses 245 gallons per day!
Water use habits: The Average Home vs. The Conservation Station
The Average Home: Indoors
- 36 gallons
- 25-35 gallons
- 2 gallons (faucet running)
- 20 gallons! (faucet running) More than the average person needs ALL day!
- 5-7 gallons
- 15 gallons
Washing Machine (top loading)
- 40 gallons
Washing Dishes by Hand
- 20-30 gallons (faucet running)
The Conservation Station: Indoors
- 15 gallons (21 less)–Take showers instead of baths.
- 5 gallons (20 to 30 less)–Use the water to get wet and lather up, scrub with it off, and turn it on again to rinse off. Replace your shower head with an ultra low-flow version (I use one–there is no noticeable difference in shower quality at all!). Put a bucket in the shower to catch some of the water and use that water to water thirsty plants. Consider going gray.
- .5 gallons (1.5 less)–Turn the water off while you brush.
- 1 gallon (19 less)–Use only a bowl. I use a cup–then again, I’m not the hairiest man in the world.
- 2 gallons (3-5 less)–Buy a low-flow model. Put a jug of water in the cistern (I use a large glass pasta sauce jar, filled with water). This reduces the amount of water lost with each flush (amount depends on the size of the container). Don’t flush every time. If it’s yellow let it mellow–if it’s brown flush it down. Finally, don’t use the toilet simply to dispose of tissues; put them in the trash.
- 7 gallons (8 less)–Use the “short cycle”.
Washing Machine (front loading)
- 24 gallons (16 less)–Only run machines when they are full.
Washing Dishes by Hand
- 5 gallons (15-25 less)–Use a wash sink and a rinse sink. Also, replace the washers on dripping faucets. One drop per second wastes 27,000 gallons per year!
Conserving Water Outside
- Plant native and drought tolerant grasses, flowers, ground covers, shrubs, and trees. They require less water and will survive dry spells.
- Apply mulch around flowers and plants to retain moisture in the soil and reduce evaporation. This will also promote growth and control weeds (which compete with plants for water).
- Use soaker hoses. They are more efficient than regular hoses (which use 10 gallons per minute) because the water goes straight to the roots.
- Do your watering early in the morning to minimize evaporation.
- Avoid sprinklers that use a fine mist. Most of the mist evaporates before it hits the ground.
- Don’t overfertilize. Fertilizer increases the need for water. Don’t use chemical fertilizers. They pollute the groundwater supply!
- Don’t overwater! A heavy rain means you don’t have to water for up to two weeks. Most of the year lawns only need one inch of water per week.
- Collect rainwater by installing a rainbarrel. I used mine all summer to water the garden, flowers, and bushes, and washed the car few times as well. I never used the house-connected hose for any of these tasks.
- Make sure sprinklers do not spray water on the driveway (or any other pavement).
- Don’t hose down the driveway or patio to clean it. Use a broom!
- Don’t let the hose run when washing the car. Use a nozzle that has a shut off valve and can be adjusted to a fine spray. Park the car on the grass when you wash it so you are watering the water at the same time.
In a time of increasing demand for water and a decreasing fresh water supply, these conservation steps are important for EVERYONE! Be a role model.
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image credit: Marlon Felippe at Wikimedia Commons