Conserving Water Inside the Home This Summer

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By Staff Writer Susanah Kopecky.

Conserving Water in the HomeWhat appliance do you guess accounts for over one-quarter of indoor home water usage? Would you believe the answer to that question can be found in the water tank of your restroom? And did you ever consider how much water you can conserve indoors, by investing in a greener appliance?

We have the responsibility of dealing carefully with our water, as water is a uniquely precious resource for life. It is not only wise to consider long-term water-saving solutions, but many organizations offer financial incentives to those who invest in more water-efficient devices. We have focused on various ways to save water outside of the home this summer, so let’s take some time also to consider how to save water inside this summer, and save some serious money in the process!

Consider another water-saving device: a more water-efficient dishwasher. The water savings are clear: According to BeWaterSmart, an “Energy Star qualified dishwasher… can save 500 to 800 gallons [of water] per year.” According to EnergyStar.gov, a pre-1994 dishwasher can add “an extra $40 a year on your utility bills compared to owning a new ENERGY STAR qualified model.” A newer, ENERGYSTAR efficient machine could potentially help its owner to “save enough money to pay for dishwasher detergent all year.” According to BeWaterSmart, “By replacing a pre-1994 dishwasher with an Energy Star qualified dishwasher, you can save more than $30 a year in utility costs, or $300 to $350 over the lifetime of the appliance.”

At a time when every dollar counts, why not consider investing in the future?

Purchase a more water-efficient washing machine. Many water providers and governmental organizations offer rebates and other financial incentives for consumers who purchase designated water-efficient devices, such as machines that are given the stamp of approval from Energy Star (an environmental and energy program overseen by the EPA and the Department of Energy). Those who purchase certain qualified washing machines may be eligible for rebates.

In Florida, Miami-Dade County supports the use of more water-efficient washing machines by offering rebates to those who purchase them. According to Miami-Dade County’s Water Conservation site, more water-efficient clothes washers only use around half of the water that “older, non-efficient washers” require (compare about “15 to 25 gallons of water per load, compared to 40 to 45 gallons”).

In California, the City of Arroyo Grande offers a Water Efficient Washing Machine Rebate Program for those who purchase specified water-efficient devices. The city hopes that through this program, it can “encourage the use of water efficient appliances, with the added benefits of energy efficiency.” Rebates for $100 and $150 are available.

In the Northwest, the WashWise Clothes Washer Rebate Program offers rebates to those who purchase ENERGY STAR-approved washers. Participating cities and utilities include the cities of Kirkland, Redmond, Tukwila, the Covington Water District and Seattle City Light. The program notes that “678 million gallons of water” have been saved since the 2007 start to WashWise, in addition to continuing “conservation efforts… [to] preserve natural resources, protect habitat[s] and maintain a healthy environment for the Puget Sound region and beyond.” Here is one excellent way to go green, save water, and support an organization with positive environmental aims.

Another surprising way in which you can save water is through investing in a more water-wise toilet.  According to the EPA’s WaterSense program, toilets are an important place to look when determining how to become a wiser water user, as “[t]oilets are by far the main source of water use in the home, accounting for nearly 30 percent of an average home’s indoor water consumption.”

Certain approved models can help homeowners to save significant amounts of money on utility bills (in some cases, “more than $90 per year in reduced water utility bills, and $2,000 over the lifetime of the toilets”). And depending on when your toilet was installed, you could save incredible amounts of water and money. According to BeWaterSmart, by replacing a pre-1980 toilet that uses “7 gallons [of water] per flush,” you could potentially save more than 40,000 gallons of water per year!

In the end, common sense goes a long way. As is the case with saving water outdoors, there are also many low-tech, straightforward ways to save water indoors. One of these includes turning off the sink while brushing your teeth and performing other hygienic tasks. Only turn the faucet to the “on” position when you need to get water. Remember that many programs want to help consumers to save water and money. Consult your local water district and city website to see if you, too, can save water and save money, and get some financial assistance while doing so!

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