In our attempt to reduce our hidden energy usage and be as ‘green’ as we can as a household, I did some checking into an energy resource that we have just taken for granted: Water. It’s just there. Every time we need it, we just turn on a faucet, and it comes out. If you’re like us, you really don’t know how much you’re using on a daily basis.
In a men’s group that I attend, the subject of energy conservation has been a topic of discussion for some months now, and we’re all trying to minimize our usage-and the money we spend on it. But no one, until last week, talked about water.
So I did some research into just how much an average family uses on a daily basis. I picked ten average water-usage activities for a family of four to present to our group and here’s what I found:
WATER-USE ACTIVITY AVERAGE AMOUNT OF WATER USED
1. One bath 50 gallons
2. One 10 minute shower 2.5 gallons per minute = 25 gallons
3. One teeth brushing 1 gallon X 4 = 4 gallons
4. One hand/face washing 1 gallon X 4 = 4 gallons
5. One face/leg shaving 1 gallon X 1 = 1 gallon
6. One dishwasher load 20 gallons = 20 gallons
7. One dishwashing by hand 5 gallons = 5 gallons
8. One clothes washing load 10 gallons = 10 gallons
9. One toilet flush 3 gallons X 10 = 30 gallons
10. One 8oz glass of water 8oz X 4 = ½ gallon
Now, taking into consideration that we wash clothes and (in our house) baths are taken periodically (we shower daily), that comes to an average daily water usage of 84.5 gallons! If someone had suggested to me that we use an average of 600 gallons of water a week I would have thought he was crazy! I realize that this is just an estimate, and I’m not taking into account everything we use water for, such as cooking and dog washing. And, water use for all activities vary by individual. I might use three gallons of water to wash dishes by hand, but my son might use five. You might leave the water running when you brush your teeth, but your wife might not. If you live in a newer house, your toilet probably uses less water per flush than the toilet in a very old house. Newer houses also have shower and faucet heads that use less water than before (look at the end piece on your sink faucet — it should have the number of gallons per minute that it will allow stamped in it).
The guys in my group were stunned. We all were. We were trying to guess how much water we all used in washing our trucks. We all took a minute to add up the houses on our street in order to figure-out how much water actually goes down the drain…You get the point. It’s scary.
It also started us thinking about how much water it took to put those cups of coffee and burgers in front of us, and the rest of the people in the restaurant. Being the researcher that I am, I offered to do some research on that as well, and share it with them over the next few weeks. I’ll put what I find into a blog, for those of you who are interested.
This is one of those deals where one feels like just one person can’t make much of an impact, but we figured that we were only responsible for ourselves, our families, and others that we might be able to impact. So here’s what we decided to do:
1. Each guy was going to share this information with his family and vow to cut-down on as much water usage as possible in his own home. We figured we could probably reduce it by 50% with some effort and controls. I’m still not sure about only flushing the toilet a couple of times a day.
2. Each of us were going to ‘walk our neighborhoods’ with a home-made flyer and see if he could get the neighbors to do the same.
3. All of us were businessmen, so we decided to take the message to our work-place as well.
4. We all frequent Starbucks, restaurants, etc. and decided that (for what it was worth), we’d give them the info as well. Who knows?
5. We all agreed to email the info to our relatives as well.
Is this going to make a difference? We’re not naïve. We know that some of our kids, relatives, and co-workers will just shrug their shoulders and not really give a rip. But some-maybe many-will, and make some changes in the way they take for granted one of our best natural resources. Who knows? It may just reduce their water bill at the same time.