Water Usage

The average family's indoor water usage is about 50 gallons of water per person per day. If your family's water usage is more than that amount, you need to look at your water use habits.

Flushing the toilet accounts for about 42 percent of the total, bathing is 32 percent, and laundry is 14 percent. The amount of water that is used for drinking or cooking is probably less than 4 percent of the total.

The Energy Policy Act of 1992 has maximum water-use standards for plumbing fixtures. Toilets manufactured after January 1, 1994, have a 1.46 gallon per flush flow (as opposed to 3.5 or 5 gallons per flush for older units), and showerheads will have a maximum flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute. Replacing a showerhead or an older-model toilet, is a good investment.

Efficiency Hints

  • Fix all leaks promptly
  • Don't let the water run while shaving or brushing your teeth.
  • Use low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators.
  • Take short showers and don't overfill the bathtub.
  • Use your dishwasher wisely instead of washing dishes by hand.
  • If you wash dishes by hand, don't let the water run for rinsing.

Use full loads in your dishwasher and in the washing machine.

Lawn Irrigation

An irrigation system can be the most efficient method of watering a landscape if it is correctly designed, maintained and programmed according to plant needs and weather conditions. An owner should be aware of the system's operations and be alert to signs of trouble with equipment or scheduling. It's also important to adapt the system to maturing landscape and to consider improvements that can increase efficiency.

Good water management can improve lawn quality and lower bills. The choice of species of grass will determine water needs. A lawn of Kentucky bluegrass will demand higher input of water, chemicals and labor than any other type of grass. It needs more water than other grasses (1.2 inches weekly), but many owners give bluegrass excess water. Turf-type tall fescues have greater heat and drought tolerances than bluegrass and are better adapted to partial shade; they require only .8 inch of water per week; Zoysia or Bermuda grass lawns require only .5 inch per week.

Mowing height and frequency affect water consumption. Slightly taller grass will develop deeper, more drought-hardy roots.

Efficient Irrigation

  • Water your lawn only when needed.
  • Water grasses heavily and deeply when they begin to wilt. Frequent, shallow sprinklings produce poor root development.
  • Water during the coolest part of the day; generally early in the morning.
  • Don't water during windy conditions.
  • Position sprinklers so they water the lawn, not the pavement.
  • Use mulch on your garden and flower beds to help keep soil moist.

Other Outdoor Water Usage Suggestions

  • Use a broom, not a hose, to clean driveways and sidewalks.
  • Don't run the hose while washing your car.
  • Avoid letting children play in the hose or sprinkler.
  • Check and repair leaks in hoses, hose couplings and outside faucets.
  • Plant drought-resistant plants and trees.
  • Use a water timer on hose sprinklers.