Sustainability Challenges - May
Drops to Watts: Save Water, Save Energy
It takes a considerable amount of energy to deliver and treat the water you use every day. For example, letting your faucet run for five minutes uses about as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 22 hours.
Heating water for bathing, shaving, cooking, and cleaning also requires a lot of energy. Homes with electric water heaters, for example, spend one-quarter of their electric bill just to heat water.
With climate change concerns, pervasive droughts, and high energy prices across the country, nearly everyone is looking for ways to conserve resources and cut costs. The good news is that by using a little "water sense" we can all save water, energy, and money.
Water Efficiency & the Environment
When reservoir water levels get lower and ground water tables drop, water supplies, human health, and the environment are put at serious risk. For example, lower water levels can contribute to higher concentrations of natural and human pollutants.
Less water going down the drain means more water available in the lakes, rivers and streams that we use for recreation and wildlife uses to survive. Using water more efficiently helps maintain supplies at safe levels, protecting human health and the environment.
In 1990, 30 states in the US reported 'water-stress' conditions. In 2000, the number of states reporting water-stress rose to 40. In 2009, the number rose to 45.
Tips for Conserving Water
- Inside the home:
- When washing dishes by hand, don't let the water run while rinsing. Fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water.
- Use a dishwasher; and when you do, make sure it's fully loaded.
- Run your clothes washer and dishwasher only when they are full. You can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.
- Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Compost vegetable food waste instead and save gallons every time.
- For cold drinks keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap. This way, every drop goes down you and not the drain.
- Put food coloring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the toilet bowl without flushing, you have a leak. Fixing it can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.
- When running a bath, plug the tub before turning the water on and then adjust the temperature as the tub fills up.
- Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of running water from the tap.
- Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and save 25 gallons a month.
- Install an instant water heater near your kitchen sink so you don't have to run the water while it heats up. This also reduces energy costs. See http://www.chilipepperapp.com/Default.htm
- Watering plants:
- Collect the water you use for rinsing fruits and vegetables and then reuse it to water houseplants.
- When cleaning out fish tanks, give the nutrient-rich water to your plants.
- When you have ice left in your cup from a take-out restaurant, don't throw it in the trash, dump it on a plant.
- If you accidentally drop ice cubes when filling your glass from the freezer, don't throw them in the sink. Drop them in a house plant instead.
- Outside the house:
- Use a commercial car wash that recycles water.
- If you have a pool, use a cover to reduce evaporation when pool is not being used.
- Learn how to shut off your automatic watering system in case it malfunctions or you get an unexpected rain.
- Sweep driveways, sidewalks, and steps rather than hosing off.
- Create a water-smart landscape that is both beautiful and efficient to give your home the curb appeal you desire. See http://www.epa.gov/watersense/outdoor/landscaping_tips.html.
- Use your water meter to check for hidden water leaks. Read the house water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak