Here are some simple water conservation tips to reduce water usage in the home.
Change your showerhead:
Showering accounts for approximately 17% of a household’s indoor water usage1. Older showerheads (made before the 1980s) use more than 5 gpm (gallons per minute) of water1,2. The national Energy Policy Act of 1992 (a federal mandate that superseded state regulations) established showerhead flow rate standards to be 2.5 gpm or less1,2 (but some companies did not follow the mandate2). In December 2010, the federal regulation for showerheads was revoked, and states can now set their own showerhead regulations2.
If your showerhead is really old consider replacing it with a newer model. Some models are super efficient and use way less water than the old federal or new state standards. Buying a water efficient showerhead could save several gallons of water per shower, and significantly reduce your water bill too.
Take shorter showers:
Another really quick eco tip is to take shorter showers. Taking shorter showers can greatly reduce water usage. According to one survey, the average length of a shower for Americans is approximately 8 minutes, and uses about 17 gallons of water1,2 (with an average showerhead flow rate of 2.1 gpm2). Another study states that about half of people take 10 minute showers or less, but the rest take 10 minutes or more3.
Water usage depends on both the flow rate of the showerhead and the duration of the shower. If you are using an older showerhead, a less efficient showerhead, or if you take longer showers, you may be using much more water than the average amount. For example if you have a showerhead that uses 5 gpm and you take a 20 minute shower, you are using 100 gallons of water1,2. If you are using a showerhead that uses 2.5 gpm and take a 15 minute shower, you are using 37.5 gallons of water1,2. If you use a 1.5 gpm showerhead and take a 5 minute shower, then you can reduce your water usage, save money, and be green all at the same time: you will only be using 7.5 gallons of water to shower1.
Shut off the water:
Here is one simple but effective tip I learned as a teen: shut off the water during showers when applying products. By shutting off the water I have significantly cut down on my water use. I may spend anywhere from 7 to 15 minutes in the shower, but the water is only running for 5-6 minutes. The rest of that time is spent applying products, shaving, or waiting for certain products (such as conditioner, masks, or scrubs) to work. Shutting off the water during showers conserves water and also saves money by reducing your water bill (it’s green for the planet and it saves you a different kind of green too!). In addition, some products work better since they are not accidentally rinsed off as you are waiting for them to work on your skin and hair.
Fill the tub half way:
I usually take short showers to save water. But very occasionally I like taking baths. Most modern baths use between 25 to 45 gallons of water2. Older, larger baths may use even more than that2. My tub is on the smaller side and I further reduce my water usage by filling the tub only half way or a little less. By not filling the tub all the way, you will get just as clean but save several gallons of water!
My eco living new years eco resolution article has additional water conservation and other eco tips. http://allnaturalbeauty.com/articles/eco-living/701-eco-living-new-year-eco-resolutions
From the U.S. Geological Survey: A calculator that estimates your water use per day. http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/sq3.html
A great article by Good magazine: the Good guide to reducing your water usage. http://www.good.is/post/good-guide-to-reducing-your-water-use-part-1-bathroom/
1) The Portland Water Bureau’s Indoor water conservation fact sheet. http://www.portlandoregon.gov/water/article/265705
2) Alliance for Water Efficiency Residential Shower and Bath Introduction Article. Includes a great chart on shower flow rates and gallons of water consumed.
3) MaP (Maximum Performance) has good articles and statistics on water usage. Here is a link to one of their articles
About The Author:
Li Wong is the owner of Earth Alkemie, an all natural, vegetarian skin care and mineral makeup company. She has a B.A. in Environmental Studies (Biology) and a M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy. Li has been crafting natural cosmetics and studying aromatherapy and herbalism since 2001. Environmental interests include conservation, botany, ethnobotany (uses of plants by indigenous peoples), mammals, organic standards in cosmetics, urban wildlife issues, environmental education and awareness, and public perception. She is the all natural beauty website’s Eco Living and DIY Natural Beauty Formulating Expert, and the anb’s mall Eco Living writer. http://www.anbportal.com/meet_the_all_natural_beauty_experts.htm
For more information on environmental issues, Eco Living, natural cosmetics, aromatherapy, and herbalism check out: Solarkat’s Eco Blog: http://solarkateco.blogspot.com/
For information on Earth Alkemie's products (skin care, hair care, DIY raw ingredients, and containers), properties of natural ingredients, the benefits of natural cosmetics, and green business practices, please visit Earth Alkemie’s blog: http://www.earthalkemie.com/blog