Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

Ways to save water at home

Nathan Cabello - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — At the approach of summer, it is expected that the water supply dwindles. The fierce sunlight tends to hasten evaporation of whatever surface waters there are. And as people more and more rely on underground water for their use, the water levels beneath the surface recede.


If climate change and the exploding human population are added to the equation, it would seem like water supply is going to be a continuing problem. There is, therefore, need to conserve water, not only in summer but at all times throughout the year.  Immediately now, entire communities have to brace themselves for the looming water scarcity in summer.

It looks bleaker with the forecasted Il Nino that’s feared to extend the dry days to a few months more. The long drought is sure to worsen the water situation at home. It is high time to turn everyone’s attention to water use – and abuse – starting at the home level.

While agriculture and water-consumptive businesses account for the large portion of the overall water consumption, residential usage is also substantial. The average family with five members uses hundreds of gallons of water a day. Most of these families are concentrated in cities, where scheduled water-supply interruptions are often resorted to when summer comes.

A little care and common sense can go a long way toward minimizing waste, according to Carol Crotta, in an article at www.forbes.com. She shares tips for reducing water consumption at home:

1. Turn off faucets. Never let faucet water run needlessly as you wash or rinse dishes, wash your hands or face, brush your teeth or shave. Bathroom faucets run at about two gallons of water a minute. Turn off the tap while you brush your teeth and shave, and you can save hundreds of gallons a month.

Also, be sure to fix leaks. A slow drip from a leaking faucet can waste as much as 20 gallons of water a day. A leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons a day.

2. Use every drop. Learn to repurpose water. One easy way is to capture under a colander the potable water you use to rinse fruits and veggies, and use it to water the plants in the garden.

3. Double-dip dishes. Make smart use of dual sinks. Instead of letting the water run while you wash dishes, fill one sink with hot, soapy water for washing, and the other with cool, clear water for rinsing. You’ll use half the water you otherwise would.

4. Consider a smaller dishwasher. Today’s modern, efficient dishwashers can save a great deal of water. Scrape dishes instead of rinsing them before loading, and you’ll save up to 10 gallons per load.

You should run only full loads. If you generally have small loads to wash, consider buying a double-drawer model. The drawers, which use less than two gallons of water each, work independently, saving water, energy and detergent.

5. Buy a high-efficiency washer. The average family washes about 300 loads of laundry each year. Washing clothes accounts for more than 20 percent of residential indoor water use.

As a rule, front-loading machines use less water than top-loading machines. But whether you’re shopping for a front- or top-loading washer, to save the most water, look for machines that use less water. These are machines where the tub does not get filled up; clothing is flipped and spun through streams of water and repeated high-pressure sprayings.

6. Go with low-flow. The bathroom is the site of the greatest indoor water use in the house. So it’s also a place where you can reap major water savings with some smart choices. Toilets, for example, account for nearly 30 percent of an average home’s indoor water consumption. Older toilets use as much as six gallons per flush. But some newer toilets use just 1.28 to 1.6 gallons of water per flush. Dual-flush toilets use even less water.

Showering accounts for almost 17 percent of household indoor water use – 40 gallons a day for the average family of five. To save water here, replace a regular showerhead, which uses 2½ gallons a minute, with one that uses two gallons a minute or less while offering the same or better shower performance.

7. Shorten your showers. Use a kitchen timer to time your showers. Aim for five minutes or less.

8. Cover up. Pool covers can be a pool owner’s best friend. Not only does a cover retain a heated pool’s temperature, but it reduces evaporation. Experts say that a pool cover cuts the amount of replacement water needed by 30 to 50 percent.

9. Water by hand. Consider hand-watering if you have a small garden area. Households that manually water with a hose typically use 33 percent less water outdoors than those that use an automatic irrigation system.

10. Get smart about irrigation. In watering the garden, residential landscape irrigation has come a long way. Consider investing in weather-based irrigation controllers that adjust to real weather conditions and provide water only when needed. Replace older mist-style sprinkler heads with today’s newer, and more efficient, rotator sprinkler heads, which shoot jets of waters at a slow rate to increase penetration and eliminate drift. Install new drip irrigation piping and soaker hoses for improved watering efficiency.

11. Capture rainwater. Find ways to save and store rainwater for use in the garden. Using a huge drum to catch roof water from gutters and downspouts is one easy way. Remember to cover your barrels to keep mosquitoes at bay.

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