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Thu, Feb. 27

A few simple tips to using less water, saving money

There are many tips that can help homeowners save money on their water bill and also ensure that there is plenty of water in the future for everyone. (Metro Creative)

There are many tips that can help homeowners save money on their water bill and also ensure that there is plenty of water in the future for everyone. (Metro Creative)

Our water bill seems high. We have checked for leaks - any other comments and/or suggestions?

- Ed and Martha, Prescott.

Did you now that each of us typically uses about 29,000 to 36,000 gallons of water a year - just on indoor usage, not counting sprinklers, pools, spas and car washing.

There are some relatively easy water-saving tips that can make a big difference in your bill. Installing low-flow showerheads, installing aerators on faucets and installing low-flow toilets can make a big difference in water consumption.

Also, investing in water-saving appliances will bring in more savings. In 1992 the Energy Policy and Conservation Act set limits on the amount of water and energy that home appliances can use.

This policy does not limit individual choices and by being more conservative with our water usage, we can make a difference.

The largest household water guzzlers are toilets.

Did you know a toilet takes up to half of the household water supply? Using a water-saving showerhead and installing faucet aerators will save more water by creating a more forceful spray and installing these devices will save a typical family of four up to 47,000 gallons of water per year.

So you ask about dealing with "dirty laundry." Washing clothes in a top-load machine typically requires about 45 gallons of water.

Front-loading machines, which cost more use about 20-30 gallons of water per load, which can be a savings of approximately $60-$100 per year in both water and energy usage.

Do you want to know where your water goes?

Toilets 13%

Showers/Baths 10%

Laundry 10%

Faucets 7%

Leaks 5%

Dishwasher 1% Landscaping 54%

Here are some typical water usage amounts at home:

▶ Bath: A "full tub" varies, of course, but 36 gallons is good average amount.

Tip: Taking a shower instead of a bath should save a good bit of water.

▶ Shower: Older showers can use up to 5 gallons of water per minute. Water-saving shower heads produce about 2 gallons per minute.

Tip: Taking a shorter shower using a low-flow showerhead saves lots of water.

▶ Teeth brushing: Less than 1 gallon. Newer bath faucets use about 1 gallon per minute, whereas older models use over 2 gallons.

Tip: Simply turn the faucet off when brushing teeth.

▶ Hands/face washing: 1 gallon

Tip: Simply turn the faucet off before drying your hands and face. If you don't mind a brisk wash, don't run the faucet until it gets hot before using it. Installing a faucet-head aerator will also reduce the water flow rate.

▶Dishwasher: 6-16 gallons. Newer, EnergyStar models use 6 gallons or less per wash cycle, whereas older dishwashers might use up to 16 gallons per cycle.

Tip: EnergyStar dishwashers not only save a lot of water but also save electricity.

▶ Clothes washer: 25 gallons/load for newer washers. Older models might use about 40 gallons per load.

Tip: EnergyStar clothes washers not only save a lot of water but also save electricity.

▶ Toilet flush: 3 gallons. Most all new toilets use 1.6 gallons per flush, but many older toilets used about 4 gallons.

Tip: Check for toilet leaks! Adjust the water level in your tank. But, best to install a new low-flow toilet..

▶Outdoor watering: 2 gallons per minute, depending on the force of your outdoor faucet. This may not sound like too much but the large size of lawns and yards means outdoor water use can be a significant use of water.

Just remember as far as leaks are concerned, it's not the little leak that wastes water-it is the little leak that keeps on leaking that wastes water. And the fact that the leak is so little means that maybe you ignore it. So, how can a little leak turn into a big waste? Many of our toilets have a constant leak-somewhere around 22 gallons per day. This translates into about 8,000 gallons per year of wasted water, water that could be saved. Or think of a leaky water line coming into your house. If it leaks 1 gallon of water every 10 minutes that means that you are losing (and paying for) 144 gallons per day, or 52,560 gallons per year.

There is no scientific definition of the volume of a faucet drip, but after measuring a number of kitchen and bathroom sink faucets, the volume seems to be between 1/5th and 1/3rd of a milliliter (mL). Drips from bathroom tubs come in a bit more, though, at about 1/2 mL. So, we are going to use 1/4 mL as the volume of a kitchen faucet drip. So, by these drip estimates:

One gallon: 15,140 drips

One liter: 4,000 drips

Looking at it this way, it seems like that drop of water down the drain is pretty insignificant, but if you have a leak you can see that all those drops flowing in "real time" can really add up to a flood.

Remember to tune in to YCCA's Hammer Time twice each weekend Saturday and Sunday morning at 7:00 am on KQNA 1130 am/99.9 fm or the web Listen to Sandy and Mike talk about the construction industry and meet your local community partners and contractors.

Sandy Griffis is executive director of the Yavapai County Contractors Association. Email your questions to her at or call 928-778-0040.

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