About four years ago I started a project to reduce my household water usage. I first posted about this effort last fall. My focus has been on finding ways to reduce my water usage without changing my behavior or actively trying to conserve water. My project encompassed the following strategies:
- Inspect and fix all water leaks in the home.
- Upgrade fixtures to low-flow hardware. This includes faucet aerators and low-flow shower heads
- Upgrade all toilets in the home to 1.28gpf High Efficiency Toilets (HET)
As promised, I tracked my water usage using monthly utility bill and a spreadsheet and have preliminary results to share in this post.
Here is a timeline of the upgrades I made in the home:
May 2007 - Upgraded to low-flow shower heads
November 2007 - Had plumber inspect and fix all water leasks in the home including adding faucet aerators. Most of this work revolved around leaky faucets and toilets.
November 2010 - Replaced all four 5+gpf toilets with 1.28 gpf high efficiency toilets.
Note: Upgrading to low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators had negligible results compared to fixing water leaks and upgrading toilets. While I still think these are worthwhile upgrades since every little bit helps, I'm not going to try to calculate the savings since I had the plumber in only a few months after the shower head upgrade. I have chosen a couple of data points to illustrate my water saving results. Based on the timing of the upgrades, the easiest method of comparison is to take 3 months of data in the first quarter of each year before and after the upgrades. Here are the data points that I have chosen and believe illustrate the relevance of my upgrades:
- Compare Q1 2007 to Q1 2008 water usage. This illustrates the savings after fixing the water leaks. (and technically the aerators and shower heads too but this is negligible... see Note above)
- Compare Q1 2010 to Q1 2011 water usage. This illustrates the savings after upgrading the toilets in the home..
- Compare Q1 2007 to Q1 2011 water usage. This shows the overall reduction in water usage for all of the upgrades.
- Show average water savings for several data points including overall, per upgrade and per day/per person data as well.
Water Saving Results from Fixing Water Leaks: Q1 2007 Total Water Usage - 36,711 gallons Q1 2008 Total Water Usage - 15,796 gallons Year over Year (YoY) Water Savings from upgrades - 20,915 gallons The upgrades reduced my quarterly water usage by 43%
Water Saving Results from Replacing Toilets: Q1 2010 Total Water Usage - 19,454 gallons Q1 2011 Total Water Usage - 12,818 gallons Year over Year (YoY) Water Savings from upgrades - 6,636 gallons The upgrades reduced my quarterly water usage by 34%
Overall Water Savings from All Upgrades: Q1 2007 Total Water Usage - 36,711 gallons Q1 2011 Total Water Usage - 12,818 gallons Year over Year (YoY) Water Savings from upgrades - 23,893 gallons The upgrades reduced my quarterly water usage by 65%.
If I extrapolate the overall quarterly water usage out for the whole year, my annual water savings for the upgrades is 95,572 gallons. If I get eleven of my neighbors with the same water habits to make these upgrades, we could save over one million gallons of water annually! How about that for a call to action? I hope this will convince you to act in your own home and save water. Keep in mind that my upgrade choices didn't require any behavior changes on my part. If you have teenagers in the home, you will appreciate this conservation strategy even more! I made some other calculation based on the number of people in my household that should help with personalizing the results. I have five people in my home that are over 12 years of age. I calculated the daily water usage per person for each of the data points for the upgrades performed. Here are the figures based on the average quarterly water usage numbers above.
Q1 2007 Average Daily water usage per person - 82 gallons
Q1 2008 Average Daily water usage per person - 35 gallons
Q1 2011 Average Daily water usage per person - 29 gallons
I just polled my three teenagers asking them if they feel like they are using less water than they used four years ago. All of them said they feel like they are using more now that they are older. When I told them they are using 65% less water than they used 4 years ago, their response was, "really?" Note: You will notice I didn't include water cost savings. In my community, water is still very cheap. I pay $.005 per gallon for water. I am including my water data going back to 2007 in case you'd like to play with the numbers and come up with other analyses.