Although roughly 75 percent of the Earth is covered with water, the reality is that less than 1 percent of that water is fresh and readily available to humans-making conserving the planet's most precious resource more important than ever. Happily, changing water-guzzling habits doesn't require herculean sacrifices or big investments, just modest changes. Bonus: saving water saves money, too!
Fact: On average, a five-minute shower uses 25 gallons of water. That's about 175 gallons per week per person-or 2,800 gallons a month for a family of four!
Reality: Cutting that number in half is as easy as installing a low-flow showerhead, most of which look and perform just like standard models. Delta's Water-Amplifying Showerhead (model 75153) delivers a steady, satisfying stream and costs just $12.75 at homedepot.com.
Fact: Leaving the faucet running while polishing your pearly whites (or shaving) wastes 2 to 4 gallons of clean water each and every time you brush.
Reality: If you brush twice a day, simply turning off the faucet will save up to 56 gallons of water a week! Get extra points if you install an inexpensive faucet aerator, which slows the flow even more.
Fact: Toilets use 27% of the water in the average home. Older models fare the worst, using up to 7 gallons per flush.
Reality: If your toilet predates 1992, when energy-efficient models were introduced, replace it with a new high-efficiency model that uses just 1.28 gallons a flush or consider installing a flush toilet conversion kit, such as MJSI's highly rated One2Flush Dual Flush Toilet Conversion Kits ($29.95; amazon.com). The simple device allows less water into the tank per flush, for an average saving of about 30 gallons of water a day per four-person household. Another option: place a 2-liter plastic bottle filled with water into the tank. The container takes up space, so the tank fills faster and uses less water.
Fact: According to the EPA, leaks in American homes account for 1 trillion gallons of wasted water per year-or the annual water use of Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami combined!
Reality: Fixing easily corrected leaks-drippy faucets, faulty sprinklers, old toilet flappers-can save homeowners more than 10% on monthly water bills. The best way to figure out if you have a leak is to check your water meter, then turn off all water sources for two hours. If the meter moves at all, you've got a leakage problem somewhere.
Fact: More than 12 gallons of water travel through a regular garden hose per minute.
Reality: Investing in an H20-conserving hose attachment, such as WaterGeeks' Water-Saving Nozzle ($3.99 each), allows gardeners to turn water on and off as they work and adjust the flow and volume of the water according to the job at hand.
For more information, visit water.epa.gov/action
For more on saving water and energy efficiency, consider:
Low-Flush Toilets Save Money and Water
Quick Tip: Solar Hot Water Systems Save Money
Quick TIp: Save Energy at Home