Water Conservation and Water Efficiency…A Little of Both Will Go A Long Way
Though incredibly admirable very few of us are willing to simply make do with less. When it comes to water we need to conserve but we don’t need to do so with hardship. Much like with energy we can conserve water through efficiency. Efficiency is about doing the same with less. This all comes down to paying attention. If you aren’t aware of your water consumption patterns then you are negligent. How’s that for straight forward.
The cost of water is expected to increase over 10% per year in the US, which I hope motivates people to use less. By the year 2025, if present water consumption patterns continue, 2 out of every 3 people on the planet will live in water stressed conditions as reported by the United Nations Environment Program. By the year 2100, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change expects up to 3 billion people to suffer from water scarcity.
I am not talking long hot showers or water your lawn scarcity; I am talking drinking and cooking scarcity. It’s time to get smart. People can make changes in the way they consume water today; just as we are in building our home. Did you know that in an average home, with an average flush rate of 10,000 flushes per year, installed a high-efficiency toilet (of 1.28 gallons or less) would save 22,000 gallons of water per year when compared to a 3.5 gallon toilet (pre-1992) or 3,200 gallons compared to a 1.6 gallon toilet?
We are designing a compact plumbing system using only high-efficiency plumbing fixtures, fittings and valves. We’re installing high-efficiency toilets (HETs) with a 1.28 flush rate (dual flush in some private locations). We’re installing water conserving showerheads with a 1.75 gallons per minute flow rate which promises a 30% water savings over a traditional 2.5 gpm showerhead (without the pressure loss!). We’re also adding faucets with 1.5 gpm low flow aerators which add air to our water and deliver another 30% savings over faucets with a 2.2 gpm standard aerator.
This combined with our rainwater harvesting system which is designed to collect and hold 7000 gallons of rainwater which will be used to water our drought tolerant grass mixture and plantings, is expected to save another 70% of our annual water consumption over a traditional system.
We’re also buying a water conserving ENERGY STAR front loading washing machine and a water conserving dishwasher to maximize our savings. All of this combined with our personal cognizance of our water habits like making sure the water is off when the kids (and us) brush our teeth, no leaky faucets and shorter showers (shorter by one minute day can save 900 gallons a year!) all make for a water efficient household.
The more efficient we are with our water, the more we conserve and in my opinion we are not taking on any hardships to do so. Our costs for some items have added to the budget. The dual flush toilet has a higher cost that is running about 25% more over a conventional toilet and the rainwater harvesting system and tank have an added cost as well, but we had to put it in a water diversion system anyway, the added expense for us is really in the collection tank. We get our water supply from a municipal system so we pay for our water, and the costs are fairly high so we will be able to project our costs savings once our final system is in and determine if we ever reach a payback point, but that is not what this is about for us.
Take a look around your home and see what you can do to increase your water efficiency. It is really inexpensive to add an aerator to your existing faucets, so maybe look at that as a first step.
KDL | follow me on Twitter : newscaster