Water is something we don’t often think about in our daily lives, it’s just there when we need it; whether to have a cold drink when thirsty, turn on the dishwasher, put a load of laundry on or flush the toilet.
But while most of us in the developed world have easy access to clean water 24/7, the truth is that only about 1% of the Earth’s water supply can be used by people; the rest is either salty or frozen.
Additionally, there are nearly 800 million people across the globe that have no access to clean water, while a staggering 2.5 billion people have no safe way to dispose of human waste.
Maintaining healthy water supplies is expensive, as the production and transportation of clean water and the processing of waste water requires a lot of energy. With this in mind, it is important for those of us who do have the luxury of clean running water to use it wisely and conserve as much of it as possible.
An average household consisting of four people can use up to 400 gallons (over 1500 liters) of water every single day. This amount can be greatly reduced by simply paying close attention to the way we use water and taking measures to use it more efficiently.
There are plenty of things you can do to reduce your water consumption, from fixing leaky pipes and faucets to installing rainwater tanks to taking quicker showers and not leaving the water running while you brush your teeth or shampoo your hair.
In addition to wasteful habits, there are also a couple of household appliances that tend to use up a huge amount of water without you even realizing it. Following are the three biggest water guzzlers that are present in nearly every household, and what you can do to make them more efficient:
1. Washing machine
The washing machine is, not surprisingly, one of the main culprits when it comes to water consumption. A traditional top-load washing machine can use anywhere between 30 and 55 gallons of water for each load you wash.
In some cases, carrying out regular maintenance on appliances can help them to run more efficiently, but if you have a washing machine that is older than ten years, or a top loader, maintenance is not going to have much of an effect as far as water consumption goes.
Replacing your older model of washing machine with a new front-load model can help you to save as much as 25 gallons per load of laundry or 50% of water with each use. Most clothes can be washed with cold water, which will help you to save energy as well.
Of course, it is an investment and initially you’ll have to spend money to save money, but in the long run, the money you save on water and energy costs will make it totally worth it.
While a dishwasher is often just looked on as a lazy man’s friend, studies have found that dishwashers are actually far more efficient than washing dishes by hand, as a dishwasher uses about one-sixth of the water that you would use if you were doing it manually.
However, in order for this to hold true, it is important to invest in the right type of dishwasher. A model of dishwasher from before 1994 may use as much as 10 gallons of water per cycle, while a modern Energy Star model uses just under 6 gallons per use.
Additionally, a newer model will be quieter, clean your dishes better and use less electricity.
In order to save as much water as possible, you should never run your dishwasher unless it is completely full. Features like pre-rinse, rinse-hold and heat-dry are generally also unnecessary, so try to use them as little as possible.
Also make sure to scrap the plates and pots well before putting them in the dishwasher, or you may end up doing two loads just to get one batch of dishes clean.
If you already have a newer model of dishwasher, you could still save some energy by doing regular maintenance like cleaning the filters regularly.
You may not realize it, but the toilet actually uses up quite a bit of water flushing away your waste. Older toilets, especially those made before 1992 are especially inefficient, and may use up to 7 gallons of water per flush. In an average household, this can amount to about 200 gallons of water per day.
New models of toilets are designed to use far less water, and can flush away your waste using nearly 60% less water than an older model. When selecting a toilet, make sure to choose one that has two flush options; one for liquid waste and one for solid waste.
It’s also important to make sure that your toilet is free of leaks. Have a plumber come to do maintenance at least once a year to check pipes and ensure that silicon seals are not worn out.
Aileen Pablo is part of the team behind Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading providers of TAFE courses equivalent and interior design courses. When not working, Aileen blogs about travel, lifestyle, home improvement, and beauty tips. She is also often invited as a speaker in Personality Development Seminars in the Philippines.If you have a blog and would like free content. You can find her on Google+.
Washing plates in a dishwasher photo via Shutterstock