Typical household water use in the USA is about 70 gallons per person per day. The USA is the world's number one water user for all purposes. The United Nations estimates our total consumption at about 152 gallons per person per day.
Here are some typical per person water use estimates at home:
Fixing leaks and using low flow faucets and water saving toilets (the ones you have to flush twice?) can reduce consumption by a third.
If you are considering pumping water using solar energy, reducing your water consumption will make better use of your energy and reduce your solar energy system cost.
As a State of Tennessee licensed Small Water System Operator, now retired, I have learned a few things from managing small water systems during some periods of serious drought where spring or well water was a very scarce commodity. These ideas may be helpful if you find yourself in a similar situation, or if you are thinking about improving your water conservation and changing your consumption habits.
Water Saving Fixtures and Appliances
You can replace old sink and tub fixtures and appliances with water conserving models to produce substantial water use reduction without reducing effectiveness and comfort.
Low flow aerators on faucets and low flow shower heads can cut water usage from 5-15 gallons per minutes to less than 3 gallons per minutes without reducing pressure. Some are available that also reduce usage and increase pressure.
Fix Those Leaks!
Leaks waste water around the clock. Check all your faucets, inside and outside, for leaks. An inexpensive washer or gasket replacement can often be all that is needed for the repair.
Check showerheads and toilets. A leaky toilet flapper can waste more than 1000 gallons a day.
Repair or replace leaky garden hoses. A little 1/32 inch pinhole leak can waste 200 gallons a day - a 1/8 inch hole leak can waste thousands of gallons per day.
Avoid Using Water Needlessly
Use your automatic dishwasher and washing machine only when you have full loads. A full dishwasher can often use less water than hand washing. If you are washing dishes by hand, use dish pans in the sink and then recycle your water for house plants.
Flush toilets less frequently. If it's yellow, let it mellow.
Take shorter showers, or shower with a friend assuming you stay focused on bathing.
Take a Military Shower - wet down - turn the water off, lather up, turn the water on to rinse. Testing of this method proves you can have a great shower with less than 3 gallons of water. And, you might get finished faster.
Take a bath with less water - this can use less water than all but the shortest showers.
Purchase point of use water heaters to save the cold water used to get hot.
Turn off the water when brushing teeth and shaving.
Water In The Kitchen
Plan one pot meals in cast iron, crock pots, or other pans that can be cleaned by scraping, spraying, and wiping clean. Cast iron can be dried and reheated to sanitize. My grandmother had a prized cast iron skillet that never experience soapy water.
Cook one BIG meal in cast iron cookware. Save leftovers in containers that can be micro waved - or, freeze for later use.
Save kitchen water from prepping, cooking or cleaning for watering plants or flushing. Use your dish pans rather than the drain.
Used cooking water from veggies or meats can be saved as stock for future stews and soups. We freeze ours in ice cube trays.
When Water Is Scarce
I am not advocating the continuation of our throwaway culture, but if you are in a serious water supply situation, these ideas can be temporarily helpful.
Use aluminum foil for baking items. Use cooking bags or disposable pans for cooking a chicken, roast, etc. No washing required. Also use for storing leftovers. Crock pot liners are available.
Use paper plates, plastic forks and spoons, paper cups.
Rethink Your Water Habits
If you are pumping water with solar or wind energy, you will save on the size of your renewable energy system by implementing these water saving tips.
Want to know more about water conservation? Check out the Handbook of Water Use and Conservation.
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