Reducing the amount of water you use in your home can be accomplished easily and inexpensively without significantly changing your lifestyle.
A good place to start is by testing for leaks, since they account for large amounts of water waste and often go undetected for long periods of time. A leak of one drip per second will waste 10,000 litres of water a year. It’s a good idea to periodically check your water meter, comparing the readings from the late evening and from the morning. Often, fixing a leak is a simple case of replacing a worn washer.
Toilets should be checked, as they can quietly allow a small but continuous flow through the flapper valve inside the tank that you might not notice. An easy way to test your toilet for leaks is to put some food colouring in the holding tank and wait about 15-20 minutes. If, without flushing, the colour shows up in the bowl, you’ve got a leak that is adding to your water bill. If your flapper valve needs replacing, look for a compatible replacement valve for your specific toilet model.
Toilets can also be the biggest water guzzlers in your house. Over a quarter of the water consumed in most homes – about 30,000 litres per person each year – is literally flushed down the toilet. The most effective way to reduce the amount of water used is to replace your existing toilet with a water-efficient toilet that flushes with six litres or less. Good-performance low-flush toilets can cut water waste by half or more without compromising performance.
Other ways to reduce water consumption in the bathroom include taking shorter showers or cutting down on the amount of water you use to fill the tub. You could also avoid running water when brushing your teeth, washing or shaving; fill a cup or the sink instead, and you could reduce water use by 60 to 80% when doing these tasks. Installing a low-flow showerhead and faucet aerators are other good ways to conserve water in the bathroom.
Kitchen and laundry room
In the kitchen you can save water by using a low-flow faucet aerator and washing fruits and vegetables in a clean, partially filled sink or container instead of letting the water run.
Be sure to fully load your dishwasher before running it. If you wash dishes by hand, partially fill one sink with soapy water for washing and the other with clear water for rinsing. If you only have one sink, place washed dishes in a dish rack and rinse them all at once with a spray of water.
Another big water hog inside your home – up to 20% of your total water consumption – can be your washing machine. To save water, be sure to run only full loads of laundry. If you have an older washing machine, you might want to consider replacing it with a new water-efficient model. These new machines will help you recoup your investment through savings in water and energy charges.
Using water more wisely in your home will pay off – in your wallet and for the environment. To learn more about conserving water, CMHC has a publication available for $7.95 called Household Guide to Water Efficiency, which is filled with practical, money-saving tips for saving water inside and outside your home. To order your copy, visit cmhc.ca or call our toll-free number: 1-800-668-2642.
Mark Salerno is district manager for the Greater Toronto Area at Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. You can reach him at 416-218-3479 or firstname.lastname@example.org.