We must use every opportunity to remind ourselves, our families and our friends how precious clean water resources are and at the same time to champion the clear steps we can take to cherish and preserve these resources. Beth Livingston, the EPA WaterSense Brand Manager, shares with us some easy ways to address water waste around our homes. Grab the kids in your life, and get them to help you with these spring “clean up” and “fix up” opportunities, and remind them why it is critically important that we value and take care of our finite clean water resources.
What Can You Do to Save Blue? Fix a Leak!
By Beth Livingston, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense Brand Manager
Think the climate change discussion is all about energy efficiency? Think again!
Water is a critical resource affected by our changing climate. Just look at the Western states’ severe water shortages in recent years, and you can see the devastating effects of climate-related droughts. And when reservoir water levels get lower and ground water tables drop, that contributes to higher concentrations of natural and human pollutants in our water.
Saving water also saves the energy used to treat, deliver, and heat that water, which helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change. Since EPA’s WaterSense program was created 10 years ago as a way to identify water-efficient products, homes, and programs, WaterSense labeled products have helped consumers save more than 1.1 trillion gallons of water and 146 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, not to mention reducing $21.7 billion in water and energy bills and more than 54 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. That’s the equivalent of planting nearly 1.4 billion trees.
So what can you do to celebrate the 10th anniversary of WaterSense? Save a little blue—and green—by addressing one of our country’s biggest residential water wasters…easy-to-fix household leaks.
The average American family wastes more than 10,000 gallons of water every year through leaky pipes and fixtures, which is enough water to wash 10 months’ worth of their laundry and could be adding 10 percent to their water bill. If you have 10 minutes to spare, become a leak detective and track down those troublesome leaks, many of which you can fix yourself.
Check your water bill for one month this winter. If a family of four is using more than 12,000 gallons of water per month, that could indicate a leak is wasting water—and money.
Find your water meter (often in the basement or underground near the curb), and check it during a time when no water is being used at home; if the number changes in two or three hours, you may have a leak.
Remove the top of your toilet tank and drip a few drops of food coloring in it; wait 10 minutes, and if color shows up in the bowl, you have a silent leak. Remember to flush to avoid staining!
While you’re waiting for the toilet test, make a quick check of faucets, showerheads, hoses, and the pipes underneath your sinks. Tighten any loose connections or use pipe tape to stop drips.
A leaky toilet is often the result of a worn out rubber flapper, which you can replace yourself for a few dollars. If you need to replace the whole toilet, you may want to call a licensed plumber to do the job. Make sure you look for WaterSense labeled toilet that has been independently certified to use 20 percent less water and perform as well or better than a standard toilet. For more information on finding and fixing leaks, visit the WaterSense website, or find a WaterSense labeled model using our Product Search Tool.
Beth Livingston is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense Brand Manager
California drought photo: Wikimedia Commons