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Water Use Around Your Home

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The first step in understanding how to conserve water in your home is to know where water is used. Most people use 50 to 70 gallons of water indoors each day and as much as the same amount outdoors, depending on the season. Indoors, three quarters of all the water is used in the bathroom.(Vis. 1) Outdoors, lawn and garden watering and car washing account for most of the water used.

How to Conserve Water Daily Because such a huge percentage of the water you use is used in the bathroom, that's where water conservation efforts should focus. You can install a few simple, inexpensive devices in the bathroom that can save a lot of water with no change in your lifestyle or your present habits. Many hardware and plumbing supply stores stock these items. These are:

- Toilet dams or rock-filled containers. These devices (one of which you can make yourself) (Vis. 2) reduce the amount of water flowing out of the toilet by up to 25 percent. They do not affect its flushing ability. Never use a brick to accomplish the same effect---particles from it could harm your plumbing. Always be sure that at least 3 gallons of water remain in the tank so it will flush properly.

- Low flow, water-saving shower heads. This piece of plumbing (Vis. 3) reduces the amount of water flowing through your shower by up to 50 percent, but increases its velocity so the shower feels the same. This also saves hot water. You may even be able to avoid buying a larger water heater, should the need arise.

- Faucet aerators. These devices restrict the amount of water going through your faucet by up to 50 percent, but add bubbles so the flow of water appears the same. They could be installed on all of your faucets, not just the ones in your bathroom.

Other relatively simple things you can do in your home to further reduce water use are:

- Repair leaks in your faucets and toilets. A leaky faucet can waste 20 gallons or more per day. Leaky toilets, even though they are usually silent, can waste hundreds of gallons per day. To find out if your toilet has leaks, put a little food coloring in the tank. If, without flushing, color appears in the bowl, you have a leak that should be repaired. Repairing a faucet is usually as simple as changing an inexpensive washer. Leaky toilets can often be repaired by adjusting the float arm or plunger ball.

- Use your dishwasher and clothes washer only when you have a full load. If you are purchasing a new clothes washer, choose one with variable load or suds saver options. Many dishwashers are also now available with water saving options. If you already have these options, use them whenever possible.

- If you are building a new home or remodeling an old one, consider installing "low flush" toilets. These toilets use 1 to 2 gallons per flush instead of the 3 to 5 gallons used by conventional ones. They are readily available and, although they cost more, they can save you a lot of money in the long run through decreased water and energy use.

Outdoor uses of water are often high volume. Nevertheless, there are ways you can save water. Try these: - Attach a pistol type sprayer to the end of your garden hose. In addition to enabling you to adjust the rate of flow, this device keeps water from continuing to run out during those short periods when you put down the hose without turning it off (while you are washing your car, for example).

- Water your lawn only when necessary. lt takes 660 gallons of water to supply 1,000 square feet of lawn with 1 inch of water. This is nearly the same amount of water as you use inside the house in an entire week! Water your lawn when it begins to show signs of wilting---when the grass does not spring back when you step on it---rather than on a regular schedule.

Saving Water in Special Situations Sometimes it is necessary to use extra measures to reduce even further the amount of water you are using in your house. Although useful in any situation, these techniques may be especially helpful, or even necessary in some cases, when water levels are high around your house, your septic system shows signs of failing or your community water system temporarily loses capacity to supply adequate amounts of water.

Indoors, you should consider these changes: - Take short showers instead of baths. A four minute shower can use as little as 8 gallons of water, while a bath needs 50 to 60 gallons.

- Avoid unnecessarily flushing your toilet. Never use it as a wastepaper basket to dispose of cigarette butts or tissue paper.

- Turn off the faucet while you are shaving or brushing your teeth or hand washing dishes.

- Avoid running water in the shower while you are shampooing or soaping. Most people step away from the water to do this anyway. Many water, saving shower heads come with a button to shut off the flow without changing the mix of hot and cold water.

Outdoors, try these: - Use mulch around trees and shrubs and in garden bees. This greatly reduces the amount of water lost through evaporation and so reduces the need for watering.

- Consider using a drip irrigation system in your garden. This system supplies water only to the root zones of plants. In addition to saving water, it reduces weeding because it doesn't water the areas between rows and hills of crops.

- Use only plant varieties that are well adapted to your locality and soil conditions. Poorly chosen varieties often need greater amounts of fertilizer and water just to stay alive.

- Avoid watering the lawn. Your lawn may turn brown in the middle of the summer, but this doesn't mean that it's dead. Rather, the grass is dormant and will regrow when rain and cooler weather returns.

- Use the water from your roof downspouts for watering your garden and flower beds.

Where To Go For Help If you need help in locating water, saving devices or other advice about water conservation, contact your local health department.

See Extension Bulletin WQ-16 How to Conserve Water in Your Home and Yard. This is designed to help you save money, protect your health and reduce the risk of damaging the quality of your drinking water, lake or pond by practicing water conservation in your home. These tips are best used in conjunction with Extension bulletin E-1521, "Maintaining Your Septic System." http://www.msue.msu.edu/msue/imp/mod02/01500606.html

This information comes from Michigan State University Extension bulletin WQ16, How to Conserve Water in Your Home and Yard.

Water Use Around Your Home Pictures

Visual title - Visual size Visual title - Visual size
Water Use Around the Home - 9K A Toilet Dam - 18K
Water-Saving Shower Head - 15K

MSU 2003

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