With climate change impacting weather patterns worldwide, resource efficiency is at the forefront for environmentally inclined homeowners’ builders and developers. This is especially true for water; if recent years have taught us anything, it’s that water is a precious resource that can’t be taken for granted.
A recent CNN article noted, “Global scientists reported in August that because of the climate crisis, droughts that may have occurred only once every decade or so now happen 70% more frequently.” In the United States, severe drought affects nearly 50% of the country, especially in the west, where water restrictions are expected to be in place again this year.
Energy and water-efficient homes are the way of the future. Whether you own an energy-efficient or an older home with the original fixtures, now is the time to think about using water more efficiently. Fortunately, there are lots of things most anyone can do
maximize your home’s water efficiency.
Inside the Home
Check Your Plumbing
Look at the plumbing anywhere in your house. Epa.gov states that “…average household leaks can account for nearly 10,000 gallons of wasted water every year, and those homes with leaks can waste up to ninety gallons or more per day. Common types of leaks found in the home are worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves.”
Install Water-Efficient Appliances
Install certified products like WaterSense toilets, showerheads and faucets as well as ENERGY STAR dishwashers an clothes washers when you update, remodel, or replace appliances or fixtures. For example, ENERGY STAR dishwashers use up to 80% less water than conventional, 20-year-old, dishwashers and WaterSense efficient faucets use 15% less water while being priced competitively.
Be Conscious About Water Use
Most of us go through the day running the water while we brush our teeth or washing vegetables at dinner time. We aren’t aware of the water we’re wasting or how we could reduce water waste. There are many small actions – like not running the washing machine or dishwasher until we have a full load or covering a swimming pool when it’s not in use to reduce evaporation – that can make an impact.
Be aware of what you put down the sink. Toxic chemicals make their way into our waterways and groundwater, threatening water that is short in supply.
Small actions add up.
If you want to look at the really big picture of your water use, consider cutting back on red meat because that one pound of beef requires up to 1800+ gallons of water to produce.
Outside the Home
Most water waste occurs outside. Overwatering, leaks, bad habits and poor landscaping practices lead to more lost water than appears on the inside. Getting control of your outdoor water use is one of the most effective ways to prevent water loss around the home.
Check for Leaks
Turn on hoses and sprinkler systems and check for leaks. Check hose bibs that may have been damaged by freezing temperatures, broken sprinkler heads, and water features to ensure no leaks.
Plant a Water Wise Garden
Water-efficient garden designs don’t fall short on style and are easy to maintain. Indigenous plants thrive on what nature provides. Plant drought-resistant plants and trees (Xeriscape see Colorado WaterWise – Xeriscape Colorado) that work with the lower levels of rain/snow in the Western U.S. is critical. Using mulch in the landscape in all climates will help to retain moisture and prevent evaporation.
Swap Out Sprinklers for Drip Lines
Drip lines are up to 70% more effective than a standard sprinkler. Put irrigation systems on timers and run the water early in the morning to maximize efficiency further.
Water is life, and now is the time for greater water efficiency in all of our homes. Small changes can yield significant results when it comes to water conservation. Being mindful, becoming informed, and making intelligent choices about water efficiency will set you up to survive rising bills and water shortages and respect water for others and wildlife and treated as it should be, as our most valued resource!