Water Doctors presents five simple ways for homeowners to cut back on their monthly water and energy bills.
For so many daily hygienic tasks, it's tempting to just turn on the faucet and let it flow. When you're shaving, when you're brushing your teeth, when you rinse the last dregs out of your morning bowl of Wheaties. But all those few minutes a day, especially when multiplied across a large family, can cost you big bucks in the monthly water and energy bills. By keeping the faucet off until you need to rinse the toothpaste down the drain and rinsing off your razor in a partially filled, plugged sink, you can keep some cash in your pocket at no cost.
Having a plumber come work on a leak, or doing it yourself, can be a pain in the rear end, especially for something that seems so inconsequential. How much can that itty bitty drip matter, anyway? Drips are consistent, non-stop, and never-ending. Over the course of days, weeks, or months, that leaky faucet matters. A home with just two faucets dripping once every 12 seconds is forfeiting 347 gallons of water per year.
The dishwasher, which was a luxury item 40 years ago, is now a given as a modern kitchen appliance, featured in 78% of American homes. And why shouldn’t it be? It offers results on par with hand dishwashing, saves a lot of time, and (depending on your hand dishwashing habits) reduces your water consumption. I am not here to suggest you stop using your beloved dishwasher, only that you stop using it so often. Filling the dishwasher only 2/3 full can result in over 30 extra cycles each year. This is particularly important because the dishwasher uses the hottest water of any appliance in the house, sometimes over 140°F. The energy costs of heating that water are far more damaging than the cost of simply using it.
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Here’s the biggie. An average showerhead in a modern home is likely to have a maximum flow of 2.5 gallons per minute. In older homes, that number might be 3.5 or even in the 5-7 gallons per minute range. If a family of four takes 20 showers a week at 15 minutes per shower using a 2.5gpm showerhead, they will use up to 39,000 gallons of water per year. With a less efficient showerhead that number could easily break 80,000 gallons. That’s a lot of water. The good news is that cutting your average down to a very manageable 10 minutes can reduce your family’s water usage to 26,000 gallons. Homeowners should consider investing in lower flow showerheads and families should make every effort to reduce the time they spend in the shower. To input the numbers yourself, check out the U.S. Department of Energy’s cost calculator and find out exactly how much the savings can mean for your family.
Hard water inhibits soap by disabling its tendency to dissolve in water. The harder the water, the less effective soap will be. Naturally hard water precludes your efforts to shorten showers and reduce dishwasher use. When you need more and more soap to get the same effect, you’ll need to scrub yourself in the shower longer and do repeat loads in the dishwasher and the washing machine to make sure your clothes and dishes are up to snuff. The solution is a high quality water softener, which removes the hardness molecules from your water to improve the efficiency of cleaning products and extend the lives of pipes and plumbing fixtures.