Family Health

Taking Charge of Household Efficiency During a Water Drought

It may be rainy out, but that doesn't mean you can forget about the future possibility of a water drought. While it's easy to run your sink, shower, hose, and appliances without worrying about how much you're using, it's important to always remain aware of your household's water efficiency.

The average family uses from 320 to 1,000 gallons of water per day, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with anywhere from 30 to 70 percent of that driven by watering lawns and gardens, washing cars, and filling swimming pools. Experts estimate that 50 percent of water used outdoors is wasted because of overwatering.

With more regions in the United States struggling with water shortages, conserving water is more important than ever. Drought-stricken communities may face restrictions on water use and imposed rationing, such as watering lawns and washing cars on odd or even days of the week, at night, or on weekends. Even areas not affected by drought can benefit from using water more efficiently. By conserving water, households can save water supply and money at the same time, lowering their energy and water bills regardless of drought conditions.

Saving Water Affects Society

Improved efficiency from water conservation goes far beyond cost savings for individual households. The effects extend into the broader community, protecting human health and the environment during shortages. Having enough water in lakes and reservoirs helps lower the risk of pollution and keep water supplies at safe levels. Conserving water also benefits the economy: The amount of water loss across the U.S. leads to billions lost in yearly revenue, according to the EPA.

Conserving Water Inside and Outside

Residents can save more than 11,000 gallons of water annually by fixing leaky toilets and faucets, purchasing energy-efficient washing machines and dishwashers, and installing shower fixtures that use less water, such as low-flow shower heads. In the warmer months or during a water drought, households should water the lawn in the early morning or late evening, as opposed to midday, to reduce evaporation. Homeowners should also adjust sprinklers so only lawns and gardens are watered -- not houses, sidewalks, or the street.

Try these additional tips for smart water use inside the home:

  • Bathroom. Turn off the water while shaving or brushing your teeth, and take five-minute showers or shallow baths. You can also use a five-gallon bucket to collect the water that runs in your shower while you're waiting for it to warm up. You can then use the collected water to water your household plants.
  • Kitchen. Chill a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator rather than waiting for cool water to arrive at the faucet, and use a dishwasher, making sure it's fully loaded. If you're washing dishes by hand, plug the sink or use a washbasin to conserve water.
  • Recycling. Water your plants with leftover drinking water, and fill up a bucket with excess water from your shower or sink to use around the house.

It only takes a few simple adjustments to have an effect on your water use, and therefore your community and the environment at large. Get your whole family on board with water efficiency to do your small part to contribute.

Posted in Family Health

Trained in medical marketing communications, New York City-based Jeffrey Young has been a health, science, and medicine writer for 15 years. He has also led content-development groups at two PR agencies and currently freelances for both corporate and academic clients, including Bayer, Covidien, Eli Lilly and Company, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck & Co., and Pfizer. Jeffrey's strengths include interpreting research findings and telling stories that resonate with the average health consumer or patient.

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*This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute health care advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or physician before making health care decisions.