(BPT) – California is making headway in improving water conservation. As of July, nearly 66 percent of the 405 public water suppliers in the state had met or nearly met state-mandated water conservation goals, according to data from the State Water Resources Control Board. Many organizations are coming together to address the water shortage. Campaigns like Connect the Drops) are highlighting corporate involvement and encouraging individual contributions to the cause. And California municipalities are offering rebates to encourage residents to use water more efficiently.
Conserving is the right thing to do, for the state, the environment and your wallet. You can reduce interior water consumption and costs in your own home. Here are some simple steps to trim your water use and save money:
1. Replace older toilets with high-efficiency models
Toilets are the top source of water usage in the average American home. If you have a model that’s 20 years old or older, like nearly 94 percent of California homeowners, you likely are using 3.5 gallons (or more) per flush. Today’s high-efficiency toilets, like several options from Kohler, flush with 1.28 gallons or less. Replacing just one old toilet with a high efficiency model could help you save 16,500 gallons of water per year.
2. Replace old showerheads with low-flow showerheads
Showers are the third-largest source of water usage in the average American home, according to the Alliance for Water Efficiency. Standard showerheads put out 2.5 gallons of water per minute (gpm). If you typically shower for about 8 minutes, a less efficient showerhead can pour about 20 gallons down the drain per shower. In a four-person household, in which each person showers just once a day, you can easily use 100 gallons of water on showering alone.
Cutting that usage is as easy as installing a high-efficiency showerhead, like those made by Kohler. These showerheads have a flow rate of just 1.75 gpm, meaning you can reduce your water consumption by 30 percent (or more) just by switching showerheads. Kohler high-efficiency showerheads provide the same coverage as standard flow showerheads, plus multi-function performance still lets you dial down to get a power massage shower.
3. Change faucet aerators
Every faucet in your house has an aerator — a small, collar-like device attached to the faucet. The aerator controls the mix of water and air that comes out of the faucet. The aerator maintains the water pressure but reduces the actual amount of flow by mixing water with air. The more air it introduces into the water stream, the more water you save. Replacing your standard 2.2 gpm aerators with 1.5 gpm aerators can reduce the amount of water you use at the tap by 30 percent.
4. Use washing appliances wisely.
Appliances are the second greatest source of home water use. Older models may use significantly more water than newer, high-efficiency versions, but even if updating your appliances isn’t in your budget, you can still conserve water. For both dishwashers and clothes washers, wait to run them until you have a full load. Modern detergents are very effective at removing soil, so save energy by washing clothes in cold water whenever possible and forego the extra rinse cycle. Even if your dishwasher is an older, less efficient model, take heart in knowing that washing dishes in the appliance still consumes less water than washing them by hand.
5. Stop running.
How many times during the day do you let water run down the drain without thinking about it? When you brush your teeth? When you’re trying to cool the flow for a drink of water? While you’re waiting for water to get hot enough to shower or wash dishes? While you’re brushing your teeth? Turning off the tap can save gallons of water per day. Start with these steps:
* Turn off the tap while you’re brushing your teeth or shaving.
* Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator so that you don’t have to wait for water to cool as it flows from the tap.
* When you shower, place a bucket under the faucet or showerhead to catch excess water until it’s warm enough to wash in. Use the collected water to irrigate house plants or fill pet water dishes.
* Thaw food in the refrigerator rather than by holding it under running water.
Water restrictions are challenging for everyone, but saving water doesn’t have to be painful. When you shop for fixtures, look for the WaterSense logo, which indicates the product meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards for high-efficiency toilets and faucets. Look for appliances that have the Energy Star rating for efficiency, and adopt a few simple lifestyle changes to reduce the amount of water that gets wasted in your home.