Simple ways to reduce water consumption in homes

by May 18, 2016General Home Advice, Sustainability

Simple ways to reduce water usage in a home

It may or may not come as a surprise to you, but reducing water usage in your home is actually pretty easy. Not only is it easy to accomplish, but if you invest in the correct water saving technologies you can quickly get a return on your investment.

Some of the techniques to reduce water use are outlined below:

  1. Low Flow Toilets

Low flow toilets use significantly less water to accomplish the same goal as normal toilets. There are high-efficiency toilets that use only 1.28 gallons/per flush, which is significantly less when compared to the 3.5 gallons that older toilets use. Additionally, Toronto has an expensive price on its water, which is currently $0.0165/gallon.

Assume that there is a family of 4 in a home, and each person flushes their toilet 3 times per day. It is assumed that an older toilet (using 3.5 gallons/flush) and a low-flow toilet (using 1.28 gallons/flush) are being compared. Doing a quick calculation (multiplying the gallons/flush by the amount of flushes per day, days in a year, and cost of water per gallon), you can see that this means that the low flow toilet saves an average of $160/year when they are installed in a Toronto home. Assuming that the cost to buy and install a low flow toilet is approximately $700-800, the payback period for this investment would be less than 5 years.

An additional option to low flow toilets are dual flush toilets, which have been found to reduce water usage in toilets by 67%.

  1. Shower heads

There are shower heads that can lower the output of water (measured in gallons per minute) from the average of 2.5 gallons/minute to 1.5-1.75 gallons/minute. Taking showers adds up believe it or not; if a family of 4 people shower for an average of 20 minutes/day (5 minutes each), the amount of water used per year is 18250 gallons/year, assuming that they have a 2.5 gallon/minute shower head. If the shower head was replaced by a 1.75 gallon/minute shower head, the amount of water used would be reduced to 12775 gallons/year (a savings of 5475 gallons of water, which is approximately the amount of 10000 two litre pop bottles). If the price of Toronto water is used this means that you will save $90/year (which was found by multiplying the gallons/year by the cost of water, $0.0165/gallon), and since most shower heads cost less than this you will make your money back in less than a year. Of course, the first step to reducing water use in showers is the mindset to reduce your time in the shower, so try to shorten your shower time in conjunction with adding an efficient shower head in order to see the larger savings.

  1. Faucets

There are efficient faucet aerators (which are added to the end of a faucet) that can cut the amount of water used from 2.2 gallons/minute to 1.5 gallons/minute (or less). Assuming that a faucet runs for an average of 7 minutes/day, this means that you would use 5621 gallons/year with a 2.2 gallon/minute faucet and 3833 gallons/year with a 1.5 gallon/minute faucet. This means that the average savings would be $29.5/year. Since faucet aerators (the adapter and aerator) cost less than $10, the payback period is less than 1 year. If you are worried about the water filling up too slow, there are also dual flow aerators that allow you to switch from different flow rates. Additionally, there are sensor-based faucets that can be used to reduce wasted water, and adds versatility to your faucet system.

These are some of the easiest and most effective ways to save water in your home, and with the short time for receiving a return on investment there are few excuses to not invest in all of these technologies. For more information on the information given in this article, please consult the following links:

LEED Green Associate Exam Preparation Study Guide

B. E. Services, LEED Green Associate Exam Preparation Study Guide, Lewisville, Texas: Green Building Education Services.

Water Rates in Toronto (2017)

Home Depot Low Flow Toilets

Home Depot Low Flow Shower Head

Home Depot Aerator!q=aerator:relevance

Ryan Meagher, Guest Blogger, BVM Contracting - Home Addition and Home Renovation Contractor.

About the Author

Ryan Meagher

Business Development, BVM Contracting

A graduate of chemical engineering from Queen's University, Ryan has spent many summers working with BVM Contracting in various roles and projects. This experience has provided him with a unique view on the residential construction industry which he loves sharing with you!