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Your Home Environment Resource - University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County

Household Hints & HELP!

Use Water Wisely to Lower Utility Costs & Conserve Resources

submitted by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator
This article appeared in the June 1, 2003 Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper.

Water conservation is not only important outside the home, it is also necessary to conserve water inside the home. Most people use about 50 to 80 gallons of water indoors everyday, but that amount can be significantly reduced by using water-conserving appliances and practices.

Water is a valuable natural resource. It's important to use it wisely. Homeowners can reduce water use by repairing leaks, avoiding running unnecessary water, installing water-saving features on older appliances or purchasing new appliances that minimize water use. These actions are particularly useful and responsible during a drought.

Bathroom fixtures, water softeners, clothes washers and dishwashers use the most water in a home. Older toilets can use 3 to 7 gallons of water for each flush and account for up to 50 percent of all indoor water use depending on individual households. Low-flush toilets only use about 1.6 gallons of water per flush and save 8,000 or more gallons of water per household per year. Newer models include jet-action or pressure-assisted toilets. Consult a consumers' study and a professional plumber for more information. Older toilets' water use can be reduced with toilet dams, water-filled containers or a 1.6-gallon flapper if the devices don't interfere with flush action or water flow through waste pipes. These devices displace water and reduce outflows by up to 25 percent.

Sink and shower water use can be cut in half by installing faucet aerators and low-flow shower heads, which reduce the water flow rate while maintaining spray velocity. Taking shorter showers and turning off the shower during shampooing and lathering soap or turning off the sink faucet while shaving or brushing teeth also will help.

Other appliances such as washing machines can use up to 57 gallons of water per load. Newer, high-efficiency and front-loading models use about 30 to 50 percent less water. Recent technology includes sensing the load size, dirtiness of the water, fabric type and controlling incoming water temperature. Some use high-pressure rinses. Setting the water level controls to match the load size will save hot water.

Dishwashers use 7 to 25 gallons of water per full load depending on the model. Newer models use about 7 to 10 gallons of water per full load and have water-saving cycle options to match dish loads. To reduce water and energy use, run full loads and only pre-rinse when needed. Select an energy-saving or air-dry cycle when possible.

Some water softeners also have features to reduce water use. On-demand water softening equipment measures the demand and softens water only when needed. These units can save water by eliminating unnecessary regeneration cycles and making the most efficient use of water, salt and energy.

Every homeowner or renter should take time to check their living quarters for leaks and start now to try water conservation practices. Water is an important resource that we shouldn't take for granted.

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