(Ferndale Environmental Sustainability Commission [FESC], Ferndale 115 News, Aug 14, 2012)
Although we are lucky enough to live in a state with plenty of water it is still important to make sure to use it properly to save resources. Here are some figures on water usage that may surprise you:
Taking a shower uses about 2 gallons of water per minute with a low-flow shower head. A standard shower head uses about 6 gallons per minute.
Typical hand or face washing uses 1 gallon.
In these hot dry last months of summer, water usage can spike. Here is some advice from the FESC on how you can save water and decrease your water bills.
In the bathroom:
1. Take shorter showers-remember every minute in the shower uses at least 2 gallons, so every minute really does count! Also consider investing in a low-flow shower head. You can get one for less than 20 dollars.
2. If your toilet was made before 1994 it is not a low-flow toilet. Low flow toilets use 1.6 gallons of water per flush as opposed to the 3.5 gallons of a standard toilet. One easy fix is to install a toilet dam. You can make a homemade dam by filling a clean plastic bottle with water and rocks to weigh it down. Then place it in the tank of the toilet.
3. Check the toilet for leaks: To do this first clean the toilet then put some food coloring or dye tabs from the hardware store in the tank of the toilet. Let it sit for about 15 minutes then look in the bowl. If you see any dye in the bowl, you have a leak!
In the Kitchen:
4. Remember to only run the dishwasher when it is full, and when hand washing fill the basin with soapy water and then rinse the dishes when they are all clean as opposed to washing and rinsing dish by dish.
5. Use composting instead of a garbage disposal.
6. Check kitchen and other faucets for leaks. A faucet that drips once every 3 seconds wastes 86 gallons of water per month.
7. Install a low-flow faucet aerator
8. Water in the early morning or after dark to minimize evaporation and adjust sprinklers to only water the lawn and not the building, sidewalk or street.
9. Raise your lawn mower blade to the highest setting, especially during dry weather. Closely cutting the grass makes roots work harder, requiring more water.
10. Purchase or make a rain barrel and use the captured water for water your flowers and yard.
11. Shut off the main water-valve supply of flowing water when leaving for vacation
12. READ METER OFTEN to keep track on your usage and check for signs of possible leaks in the house. Remember, If the meter is running/turning and no water is running then you probably have a leak.
13. Ensure your hot water heater is insulated and you won’t have to run the faucet for as long to get to the hot water. This could also decrease other utility bills because water heating is the second largest energy end use in homes, behind space heating and cooling. It accounts for 16.8 percent of residential energy consumption and can cost a household anywhere from $200 to $600 a year. Gas is the dominant water heating fuel in the Midwest.
You can buy a Water Heater Insulation Blanket for about $20-30 depending on the size at a hardware store.
Find out more about the FESC at https://www.facebook.com/FESC48220.