More and more families are trying to do their bit to save water, and in so doing, bring down their household utility costs. If this includes you, a research article titled: 'The Water Short List: The Most Effective Actions U.S. Households Can Take to Curb Water Use', which was recently published in the scientific journal Environment, may help you in your quest.
The article, authored by Benjamin Inskeep and Shahzeen Attari, outlines how you can substantially reduce water consumption in the home by implementing simple measures such as changing your day-to-day water consumption habits and installing appliances that are water-efficient. While much of the advice is old news, the paper is the first to actually provide quantitative estimates of how much water can be saved in the household by implementing the suggested measures. The researchers also reveal that many of the commonly proposed water conservation measures actually save less water than what they consume.
As water is likely to become increasingly more scarce in the future, it is encouraging to learn that there are readily available measures that US households can take to drastically cut their water consumption.
The article looks at measures households can take to reduce water consumption both indoors and outdoors, and focuses on enhancing water-efficiency by curtailing water use and upgrading technology that utilizes water to perform its function, or supplies water to the household. Using data obtained from the USGS and the Water Research Association, the researchers estimate that by implementing simple measures such as upgrading dishwashers and washing machines with water-efficient replacements and installing water-efficient faucets, showerheads and toilets, indoor household water consumption can be drastically reduced by as much as 45%.
A household can cut their water consumption by a whopping 18% just by installing a WaterSense certified toilet that meets EPA standards for water efficiency. Water consumption can be reduced by a further 30% by curtailing water use through actions, for example reducing the number of toilet flushes by 25%, spending less time in the shower, and only using the washing machine when you have a full load of washing.
Outdoor water consumption can be drastically reduced, or practically eliminated by installing a rain-harvesting system such as rain barrels to collect rainwater for watering the garden, installing a drip irrigation system, watering the garden early in the day before the sun is high in the sky, to reduce evaporation, and opting for warm grass over cool-season grass.
They also note that some previously proposed 'water-saving' tips are in fact counter productive, such as brushing your teeth or washing your face while taking a shower, as much less water flows from an average bathroom faucet than a normal showerhead.
This article expands on Attari's previous paper published in PNAS in March, which showed that Americans were typically clueless with regards to the water consumption rates of different activities, and therefore not in a position to make effective changes.
The authors acknowledge that water availability is an area of growing concern, with many cities across the US anticipating water shortages in the future ahead. Yet, because the cost of water is relatively cheap, US citizens have little incentive to reduce their consumption, which is currently 98 gallons per day on average -- seven times greater than what they actually require for their daily needs. However, while replacing water-hungry home appliances and plumbing fittings with more efficient technology may produce financial savings, for many households the upfront costs are a major deterrent. The authors suggest one way around this stumbling block is to offer financial incentives, such as larger rebates on water-efficient household appliances, that would encourage consumers to upgrade.
The full article can be found online at: http://www.environmentmagazine.org/Archives/Back%20Issues/2014/July-August%202014/water_full.html