You have probably heard the question; if the amount of water on earth stays the same forever, why should we bother conserving it, and why are some places experiencing such a lack of it?
No one disagrees as to the supreme importance that water holds. The increased occurrence and intensity of severe environmental events, such as forest fires, hurricanes, record temperatures, heat waves, and droughts have water conservation at the forefront of countless people's minds.
This issue also turns out to be a double-edged sword because not only are people concerned about how to save water they are also struggling to deal with the rising cost of their water bill. More than ever before individuals are investigating their water consumption and are hunting for strategic tactics to help them use water more efficiently.
Hint: It's the Cycle
The water cycle illustrates how water evaporates from the earth’s surface into the atmosphere, cools, condenses into clouds, and then returns to the earth in the form of precipitation.
The rain collects in bodies of water (rivers, lakes, streams) however much of it finds its way to the oceans where once again it evaporates into the atmosphere. Additionally, the water seeps into the soil and porous rock.
It takes differing amounts of time for water to work its way through each phase of the water cycle meaning that often the much-needed water can be nearly impossible to access.
Sooner or Later, Much Later
Water only remains in the form of rain or snow for a short period, however, it can take decades to cycle through a lake or spend a millennium ensnared in glaciers.
Rainfall can be frustrating to depend on as a renewable even if you live in a state where some of its regions receive sufficient precipitation. The driest region in Texas is The Trans-Pecos, with an average annual rainfall of 11.65". In comparison, the wettest part of Texas is The Upper Coast which receives inches) are the wettest.
In areas of sparse rainfall like The Trans-Peco or a growling number of other places with little precipitation, water almost seems to be non-renewable since once the water is consumed it can take an exceptionally long time to return.
A megadrought is defined as a severe drought lasting for two or more decades. Currently, there are two megadroughts affecting the planet. The first one is in the southwestern region of North America and has been ongoing for the last twenty-two years and the second one has had Chile and Argentina in its grip since 2008
Hopefully, these reasons make sense why we need to save water locally and think about it globally in our water consumption. It's all connected.
Water Facts on the Worldwide Water Supply
We have all heard that approximately about 1% of Earth's water is available for human use, but what else do we know, or should know?
97% of the earth's water is in its oceans (too salty for drinking, crops, or use in industry)
320 million cubic miles of water in the oceans
3% of the earth's water is fresh.
2.5% of the earth's freshwater is unavailable: locked up in glaciers, polar ice caps, atmosphere, and soil; highly polluted, or lies too far under the earth's surface to be extracted at an affordable cost.
0.5% of the earth's water is available in freshwater.
If the world's water supply were only 100 liters (26 gallons), our usable water supply of fresh water would be only about 0.003 liter (one-half teaspoon).
In actuality, that amounts to an average of 8.4 million liters (2.2 million gallons) for each person on earth. This supply is continually collected, purified, and distributed in the natural hydrologic (water) cycle
Where Water is Found
Ice Caps/Glaciers 2.0%
Freshwater Lakes 0.009%
Inland seas/salt lakes 0.008%
It's crucial that all humans take immediate action to decrease their water use by implementing intelligent home upgrades. Following are some actionable ways you can conserve water, save money, and make an impact.
Water Consumption - How Much Do You Use?
"What gets measured is what gets managed" ~ Peter Drucker
To truly get a handle on your water consumption you need first need to understand what your water demand is. This is easy to do because your local water bureau happily sends you an invoice at regular intervals, lucky you!
In addition to the invoice, I regularly visit my account on my water bureau website which helps me get a little more granular in regards to what and when I use it.
The website breaks my use down further with average daily water use, read amount, consumption, and average daily. It even gives me the option to download the data to an excel spreadsheet if I really wanted to nerd out on it.
It may not be the most exciting thing to do but it's smart to thoroughly read through your statement (both physical and online) so that you understand all of the miscellaneous charges and how the water you use is measured.
One of the most important metrics to understand is CCF which represents 100 cubic feet and one CCF = 748 gallons of water.
Pay attention to how your consumption compares to your previous bills. Is your usage considerably higher than the same month of the previous year? If so it could be an indication of a leak or some other issue with your water system.
To help you determine where you land, and above or below-average consumption, some municipalities offer data on the amount of water your neighbors are using. Kind of big brother-ish but I can see the benefits.
Getting Serious About Monitoring Your Use
If you have a large house that uses a considerable amount of water and are looking for ways to conserve water this system may be just the thing for you. Monitor all of your home's water lines 24/7 with the Kohler H2Wise system.
The system requires Wi-Fi and AC power connections and installs on the main water supply line after the water meter or on a well pump system; inside or outside the home.
The H2 Wise system includes a fixed ultrasonic flow meter and high-definition pressure sensors that analyze your home’s water usage and measure changes 240 times per second, quickly detecting leaks.
It comes with an app that sends real-time alerts to your smartphone if it detects changes in water pressure that signals potential water leakage or other plumbing problems.
The internal valve can be set up to close automatically or be closed remotely via their app or manually with a local switch or small screwdriver.
It also has freeze warnings so you can take action against frozen pipes to avoid costly damage.
Pretty cool, don't you think?
How average are you? The average North American household shells out over $1,000 per year for water. However, according to the EPA, you can save over $380 annually by retrofitting your home with WaterSense-labeled fixtures and ENERGY STAR certified appliances. If you are having home improvements done then it's critical that you look for the labels that will help you the most.
I am defiantly not a corporate shill but when a company is doing the right thing then I can give credit where credit is due. The EPA recognized Kohler Company with a recent WaterSense Sustained Excellence Award for its persistent endeavors to revolutionize water-efficient plumbing products, promote water preservation, and assist in the safeguarding of this precious natural resource.
Kohler products have contributed to the saving of 437 billion gallons of water, they have reduced CO2 emissions by 9.26 million metric tons, and saved $7 billion in energy and water. This honor is the organization’s 8th Sustained Excellence award and its 13th year of acknowledgment overall by the WaterSense program.
By identifying these labels and utilizing the recommended products, you will become a member of a growing tribe that is creating a massive influence on water conservation.
Make Strategic Upgrades
We are all motivated to pay less for the water we use but to do so we need to spend a little money first. Most eco-friendly upgrades pay for themselves within a few years but of course, it depends on what you are upgrading and how much you choose to spend.
Swapping out old toilets, faucets, washing machines, and dishwashers with WaterSense and EnergyStar alternatives decreases water use and saves money, particularly because these appliances are used daily. Take a wander through your options via the links above to find that new highly efficient appliance you need.
I want to focus specifically on showers because they use a lot of water and they are some of the most affordable opportunities you can upgrade.
Showering is one of the biggest uses of water in our homes and accounts for approximately 17% of residential indoor water use. That’s almost 40 gallons per day for the average American household. Taking this a little more macro, approximately 1.2 trillion gallons are consumed annually and that’s just for showering. To put this into perspective, that’s enough water to meet the annual water needs of both New Jersey and New York.
The average standard showerhead uses 2.5 gallons of water per minute (gpm). Showerheads with the WaterSense label are required to prove that they use 2.0 gpm or less. The label also certifies that their labeled showerheads deliver a satisfactory shower that is equal to or better than traditional showerheads.
By retrofitting your shower with a WaterSense-labeled showerhead, you can save a considerable amount of this water. Follow this link to see hundreds of choices from a plethora of manufacturers. Reduce your water use and enjoy an exceptional shower.
With showering being such a big part of our water footprint, we can take it a step further with the pioneering Anthem digital control. It has a sleek, simple display that lets you control temperature and water flow.
The eco mode allows you to control the water by just using one outlet (up to six shower outlets allowed) at a time, and the simple, intuitive interface helps promote mindful use of water.
Tankless Water Heater
Have you ever run your shower and had to wait for it to warm up? Like, every time you take a shower? If you are like me, I find it frustrating to watch the water go down the drain as I wait for it to warm up.
A simple solution is to install a tankless water heater. Unlike a traditional hot water holding tank, these units heat water on demand, which eliminates that irritating wait for the water to warm which of course equates to gallons saved and money not spent.
We Can Use Less and Still Live Well
The EPA estimates that households can use approximately 20% less water by installing water-efficient fixtures and appliances. Pair this with being thoughtful about your water use every day and your entire family will help conserve this precious resource.
On average, each American uses approximately 82 gallons of water a day. You can lower your water footprint by being intentional about your water consumption and strategically updating your home’s fixtures and appliances.
Join us in our quest at blendedtribes.com to save the planet one drop of water (aka a 'Better Choice') at a time.