Take responsibility for your environmental footprint by managing your own water consumption. If you are not paying attention, daily water usage can easily accumulate. Without maintaining good habits and paying attention to home plumbing, you can waste this precious resource and end up with a hefty water bill.
How to Check Your Water Usage
To manage water consumption well, you need to know how much water you are using. You can figure this out using your home’s water meter.
1. Finding Your Water Meter
For most houses, you can find your meter in a labeled concrete or plastic box outside. You may need a long screwdriver to lift the lid. Often these are found by the driveway, in front of the house by the curb, or in the basement. For some houses these water meters and pipes are on the side of the house.
If you cannot find your water meter, you can call your landlord, property manager, or local utilities company for information about where the meter is located on your specific property.
2. Start with a 20 Minute Leak Check
Check for a leak by getting readings 20 minutes apart. First, make sure there is no water running anywhere in the house. This means toilets, household faucets, showers, washing machines, dishwashers, sprinklers, and pool systems should not be in use. Next, write down the reading from the numeric band.
After 20 minutes (where you haven’t used any water), write down the new reading. If during that interval more than a gallon is used, you may have a leak. Note: this may be caused by automatic water refills on your property from the pool to the ice maker. When you check for areas that may be damp or leaking, you can also check for any water sources you may have left running.
3. Evaluate General Consumption with a 24 Hour Check
Similar to the above meter check, you can evaluate your consumption by recording the water meter readings at interval times. However, this time you will use your water sources as normal and take down the new total 24 hours later. Subtract the old total from the new one to get your household usage. Divide that by the number of inhabitants and you will have the approximate individual usage per day.
4 Types of Conservation Signs to Curb Water Waste
Water conservation often begins with raising awareness by placing signs by frequently used water sources such as kitchen sinks, bathrooms, and hoses. Signs provide helpful reminders, warnings, alerts, guidelines, requests, and restrictions. All of these signs are designed to change wasteful water habits.
Four types of water usage signs you may encounter include:
Outdoor Drought Signs – These are often related to the usage of sprinklers, hoses and other types of irrigation during severe droughts.
Sink Signs – These remind people using facets to turn off tightly. These can be found in the home, restaurants and other businesses.
Bathroom Signs – These provide guidelines such as a recommendation to turn off water when brushing teeth, take shorter showers, or limiting the amount of water used for baths.
Custom Conservation Signs – Businesses and homeowners may customize signs for use of everything from pool cleaning to dishwashing and laundry areas. Other custom water signs feature How-To’s for checking water meters, directions for what to do in case of leak detection, and warnings related to reclaimed or recycled water.
How You Can Start Saving Water
Begin by searching for possible leaks that are currently occurring in your home. The EPA estimates that Leaky faucets can result in nearly 50 gallons of wasted water in a week. To get a broader perspective, consider that an undetected leak of 0.1 gallon per minute wastes 4,320 gallons per month.
You can troubleshoot to find out whether or not a leak is occurring inside or outside your home by turning off the inside and outside valves and seeing if the leak indicator continues to change. You may discover hard to find leaks in the walls, under your home, or by the water meter or valves. Other signs of leakage include excess water condensation and unusual amounts of mold in areas outside of the bathroom.
Being aware of your water consumption goes beyond your home. Try and limit your water usage in the workplace as well. Take a moment to learn about water conservation for business here.
What is an Appropriate Water Use by Family Size?
The average person uses around 80-100 gallons of water per day, according to water.usgs.gov. In certain states, legislators have pushed for future laws that will restrict individuals to 55 gallons per day. In some areas, there are outdoor water usage restrictions put into place during droughts.
For now, you can help prevent water waste by setting a household water usage budget goal or simply reducing the amount you currently use. You can evaluate your own usage patterns by using a water usage calculator. The simple act of looking at how you use water and where you overuse it most can help you quickly identify areas for improvement.
If you want to know more about water usage rules and guidelines for your property, visit the website of your utilities provider and local water management agency. State governments and city governments create regulations which may be related to droughts and environmental initiatives, so laws often vary from city to city.