Think outside the sink
When combating high utilities bills and attempting to reduce carbon footprints, home and business owners tend to focus on electrical consumption. Traditionally the greatest power hog, electricity is quietly being usurped by the high energy demand of collecting, processing and transporting water. Water bills increase on average by 10% each year but there is much that can be done to reduce their assault on your paycheck.
The average American uses 380 liters of water every day to the average Canadian’s 325 liters. If that seems like a lot, it is! Even more so when you realize that the average African uses 10 liters of water a day and has to walk 6km to get it. In 2000, the US spent $105 per person on water treatment. For a small US city of 300,000, this would mean a $31,500,000 annual price tag (about $40,320,000 today). The US spends a total of $3.5 billion each year to operate its water treatment facilities, a cost that is passed on to the consumer. As the lack of clean drinking water becomes a more pressing issue, and the cost of processing water increases, home and business owners must do more to improve their water consumption and lower their utility bills.
Go with the flow
There are many solutions to high water consumption that are both easy and effective. Making a few small changes around your home and business will see a dramatic reduction in consumption and costs. The first option is low-flow toilets which reduce water usage from 15-19 liters per flush to just 6. Reduced-flow shower heads will cut the amount of water used in a shower by half.
Water efficient laundry appliances and dish washers should be your key focus with new homes or when old appliances need to be replaced. The cost of water conservation improvements will be recovered in no time. However, you can expedite your ROI by availing yourself of a plethora of government-sponsored rebates.
Reducing the use of water through fixtures and appliances can slash bills by up to 60%. Water conservation can be augmented by capturing rainwater in rooftop recovery systems. Here rainwater is captured and stored in a rainwater storage tank. This cache of water can then be used in flushing toilets, for cooling or when watering the garden.
A spokesperson for the EPA; “The Region 7 Science and Technology Center in Kansas City, Kansas, has incorporated a state-of-the-art rooftop rainwater recovery system in its new facility. The design consists of a 1,500-gallon underground settling tank and a 10,000-gallon holding tank. This system has the potential to save the laboratory more than 500,000 gallons of water per year.”
Grey water from showers or laundry can be redirected for reuse. The most common use of grey water in homes is for the irrigation of gardens and lawns and flushing toilets. In industry, grey water can be utilized for cooling and irrigation.
Cleaning grey water to increase its usefulness is also a possibility. Last year’s US Department of Energy decathlon saw a number of entrants utilize rainwater to irrigate green walls. These walls provide food, cool the home and improve indoor air quality. Rainwater was also used in toilets and for irrigation.
These entrants embody the vision of future building designs where every resource is used to its fullest and none are wasted or lost. We are aware of the impending water shortages that our ever-growing populations presage, yet we continue to use water with a wild abandon that is unsustainable. Implementing water conservation techniques in your home or business is not only responsible, it makes financial sense too.