Water Conservation

November 6th 2006
Water Conservation

You are going to hear more and more about the need to think differently about the way we use water. For many years, we have taken the unlimited supply of fresh, clean water for granted. With the building boom that's going on, our water supplies are coming under more and more pressure as more houses and business are hooked up to the same water supply system.

Many cities and municipalities are having to develop tactics that will ensure the current supply of water is adequate to meet the need of all the homes and families their water system serves. Water may originate from reservoirs; wells, pipeline and many are dependant on a combination of adequate rainfall and a large enough system to store water until it is used.

Our hot, dry summers along with less snow pack and growing urban population are putting a lot of pressure on the supply of water. Because finding and storing greater quantities of water is very expensive and sometimes virtually impossible, the best short-term strategy is to educate homeowners to use water more wisely.

Many of us, without really knowing any better, developed wasteful habits as we grew up because there was always an abundant supply of water. Suddenly however, this behaviour is becoming less acceptable with today's water shortages. Because many cities and municipalities are moving towards metered water (many already have) homeowners are starting to think of water more of as a commodity than an unlimited supply of something that's free. "User pay" mentality is being embraced across the country as homeowners face higher costs for the supply of municipal water to their home. The flat rate charge on your tax may have been fine when it was so inexpensive it didn't matter. Now however, when paying for water is starting to get expensive, why should a home with two people living in it pay the same as a home with six family members? There will be a huge difference in the amount of water consumed over the course of the year in these two homes. Why should they pay the same? Metering the supply of water will take care of this inequity.

Regardless, there are a number of things we can do to stop wasting water. We can and should still use as much water as we need, let's just not waste it. Some segments of the home improvement industry have been working on this problem for several years already. That's why we now have low-flush toilets and low flow showerheads. We've heard complaints from some that these products don't seem to work as well as the units they replaced. Manufacturers have been listening and there are now products on the market that work just as well as they used to while saving a substantial amount of water.

It has become more important to do your homework before deciding on a toilet these days. A little later on in this article, you will be provided with a link to a website that provides excellent information and a list of considerations you should think about before purchasing anything that uses water.

At HouseSmart, we've recently come across a couple of products that seem to make it easier and convenient to save water.

Remember that low-flow showerhead you hated so much? When you tried it, you didn't even feel like you were getting wet! Well we've come across a product that was designed to use up to 70% less water but give you a very satisfying shower. Oxygenics have developed a technology that allows air to be infused into the stream of water to provide a great showering experience.

It works so well that many of the world's most elegant hotels and resort spas, from the Sheraton in San Francisco to the Sonesta Beach Hotel in Curacao to the Renaissance Wailea in Maui, have pleased guests for years with this ergonomically designed shower head. Using the same principle as a jet engine, this showerhead continually sucks in fresh air and infuses it into the water creating a powerful Oxygenating spray of revitalizing oxygen enriched water.

You may have to reconsider if you thought you'd never use a low-flow showerhead again. The Oxygenics Showerheads are available at Canadian Tire and Home Depot.

Another product is one that would interest you if you have to wait a long time at one of your sinks while you wait for hot water. You know how it works, you turn on the tap and pour a lot of water right down the drain while you wait for the hot water to get to the tap. The Autocirc was designed to circulate the hot water so that it is immediately available at any tap in your home, regardless of how far it is from your hot water tank.

For more information on the Autocirc, visit www.autocirc.com .

Let's all be smart about how we use our water.

As we head into the hottest, driest part of the year, it is important to conserve the water we use around our homes. Here are a few tips for the different rooms in your home that use the most water.

In the Bathroom

- By cutting only one minute off the time you spend in the shower, you can save about 19 litres of water for every shower you take

- Another way to save water when using the shower is to install a low-flow showerhead as we've already discussed.

- You may want to consider replacing your old toilets. Older toilets can be big water-wasters, some will use as much as 30 litres of water per flush, while the new low-volume toilets use only 6 litres.

- A leaky toilet is also a source of wasted water. To check for leaks, put in a few drops of food colouring into the toilet tank, if the food colouring appears in the toilet bowl, you have a water-wasting leak to fix.

In the Laundry Room

- A single dripping tap can waste up to 300 litres of water in a single week. This is usually an easy problem to fix. Simply unscrew the faucet and change the tap washer.

- Each load of laundry can use up to 190 litres of water, so make sure that each load is a full one or, set the water level adjustment accordingly.

In The yard

- Everyone wants to have a beautiful green lawn, but it takes a lot of water, so be smart about it. To use your water more efficiently, aim your sprinklers where they are needed, and also avoid watering when it is windy, as the wind speeds up evaporation and may blow your sprinklers off target. To figure out when you have watered enough, place an empty tuna can on the lawn. When it is full, you're done. (You're looking for about 1" of water)

- Here is some advice that everyone will enjoy - Cut your grass less often! The less you cut your grass, the less water it will need. And, when you do mow, cut higher than normal because the longer blades of grass will shade its roots, keeping the roots cool, and that will reduce the need for watering.

Saving water is not hard, but it does take some thought before new habits are developed. If we're smart about how we use our water, we'll have all the water we need, when we need it.

Remember, every time you turn on a tap, think about whether you are using water wisely.