Eco-Rep Green Corner: Reducing water usage at home

Sixty-two percent of home energy consumption and indoor water use happens in the same place: the bathroom. Flushing the toilet uses approximately 28 percent of indoor water, bathing uses 19 percent and faucets use 15 percent. A normal water bill for a house of four in New Jersey is about $312 per year, and approximately $192 is spent yearly on the household bathroom water usage.
Fortunately, there are several easy ways to reduce water usage in the bathroom. You can reduce flushing usage 40 percent by putting a brick or large rock in your toilet tank directly after flushing: the tank fills with less water.
Showerheads, on the other hand, are slightly more complicated to fix. Most showerheads use up to six gallons of water per minute (gpm), which means that my 15 minute shower can use 90 gallons. Many reduced flow showerheads can use as little as ½ gpm, saving between 60 to 90 percent of shower water. You can easily switch showerhead types by unscrewing your showerhead with a wrench, bringing it to your local hardware store, and asking the professional to aid you in selecting a new and reduced-use showerhead. Tutorials and instructional videos are also available online.
Many shower lovers argue against reduced flow showerheads by raising concerns about water pressure, because, after all, who wants to bathe in a trickle of water? But these showerheads use less water by infusing more air into the stream of water, thus the pressure stays constant while the amount of water used goes down, and the amount of air processed increases. But showerheads are not alone in this not-so-new technology. Faucet aerators are also available for as little as $2. If you take a close look at the side of your faucet, exactly above where the water comes out, a small imprinted number will be listed, saying how much water it uses per minute. If you already have a faucet head on, you can easily unscrew it, and screw on a new aerator.
Water heating accounts for approximately 14 percent of household electric use, but if you switch to showerhead and faucet aerators, they will use less hot water, and the electricity used to heat water can be reduced by 50 percent. If a financial argument is more convincing, then let us examine that for one moment. A typical yearly electric bill is $2,200 and about $308 of that is used to heat water. You can reduce that number by $156 by using a reduced flow showerhead and faucet aerators. A typical yearly water bill is $312 and about $192 of that comes from total bathroom usage alone. That number can be reduced by $112 if you reduce your toilet and shower water usage.
Thus, you can save yourself around $268 per month by taking these three small steps: putting a brick or large rock in your toilet tank, getting reduced-flow showerheads and faucet aerators. With your potential savings, you can feel good about rewarding yourself with a nice, hot shower.

– Hannah Strong
Westminster Eco-Rep

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