Blogs > March 2012

Building a Water Wise Home: Saving Water Inside & Out

 

 

 Contributed by Nora DePalma

 

Over the past few weeks, the Green Chix blog has focused on the issue of saving water and why it's so important, both in the U.S. and on a global level. We've asked you to call a plumber about that leaky faucet, already, and shared tips for saving water outdoors and in. 

If you're ready to take action and make your home the most water wise house on the block, here are a few key changes you can make that are worth your time, energy, and cold hard cash.

Become an Energy Star. Even if your old washing machine is working just fine, or you are crazy enough to actually enjoy washing dishes by hand, upgrading to an ENERGY STAR-rated washing machine or dishwasher can save hundreds of gallons of water each year. More efficient washing machines use about half the amount of water and 30% less energy than a standard machine. ENERGY STAR qualified dishwashers save an average of 1,300 gallons of water over the lifetime of the machine. Over time, these appliances can pay for themselves in savings on your water and electricity bills.

Know the score on a new toilet. By now you know to look for the WaterSense label when shopping for a new toilet, but also check the toilet's score on the MaP Test, or Maximum Performance Test, to be sure you are getting the best performance for your money. This voluntary test rates the amount of, well, "material" a toilet can reliably clear from the bowl in a single flush. This means you can be sure your 1.6 gallon per flush toilet will work properly with only 1.6 gallons of water every time.

Ready for a rain barrel? To get the most bang for your buck, choose a basic system that diverts the downspout from your gutters into a covered rain barrel. Make sure the barrel you choose has an overflow outlet that will allow excess water to flow out in a managed way, ideally through a hose that will carry the water away from the foundation of your house. (Can you guess why this is important?)

The elephant in our front yards. Did you know Americans use roughly ten thousand gallons of water per summer for each one thousand square feet of lawn? Eeek!  Lists of regionally appropriate plants are available on the EPA's website. Not only are native plants beautiful, but they'll require less work to maintain their good looks because they are already perfectly adapted to grow in your yard.

Twist your way to savings. If there isn't room in your budget for a new appliance or toilet this year, then installing faucet aerators on all your bathroom sinks is a great way to save lots of  water at a minimal cost - aerators typically cost only a few dollars each. The EPA estimates that if every household in America switched to WaterSense-certified faucets or faucet aerators, we'd save 60 billion gallons of water every year.

GreenChix move on next month to Green Cleaning and Design. Join the GreenChix community on Facebook and commit to small, but meaningful changes for our planet.

 

Posted: 3/28/2012 11:30:52 PM by Heather Wallace | with 0 comments



A Toast to Water Conservation and Food Security on World Water Day

 

 

 Contributed by Nora DePalma

 

When making a toast, we typically imagine raising a glass of champagne. Today, however, you might want to raise a glass of tap water instead, in celebration of World Water Day. This observance was first recognized by the United Nations on March 22, 1993 as a way to celebrate freshwater and also to call attention to the many important global issues related to water conservation and access to clean drinking water.

Water for People estimates that 783 million people around the world do not have access to safe drinking water, and that 2.5 billion are without adequate sanitation facilities. By 2025, the UN predicts that two-thirds of the world’s population could be living under water stressed conditions.

This year's World Water Day is focused on the connection between Water and Food Security. Lack of access to clean water and sanitation is dangerous not only because of the risk of dehydration and water-related illnesses, but because lack of water can cause major crop failures and livestock deaths. In areas of the world that are dependent on local agriculture, this can lead to widespread famine and malnourishment. 

Meanwhile, the worldwide appetite for meat is rising, which is causing demand for freshwater to skyrocket. The UN reports that while it takes 1,500 liters of water to produce 1 kg of wheat, the feeding, slaughtering, and processing needed to produce 1 kg of beef requires a whopping 15,000 liters. Given that so much of the world is likely to be facing water shortages in the near future, this demand for meat is simply unsustainable.

Want to get involved? Here are a few ways you can make a difference:

    -Spread the word about World Water Day with these educational materials

    -Help improve water access around the world by supporting Water for People

    -Get involved in the Nature Conservancy's Rivers and Lakes Program

    -Learn how to shrink your own Water Footprint with helpful, thought-provoking tips

 

 

Posted: 3/21/2012 11:43:10 PM by Heather Wallace | with 0 comments



Stop that Dripping Faucet: It's Fix-a-Leak Week!

 

 

 Contributed by Nora DePalma

Is the steady drip - drip - drip of a leaky faucet keeping you up at night? Well no wonder - not only is it an annoyance, it's wasting more water than you might think. In the average American home, leaky pipes, faucets, and toilets send about 10,000 gallons of clean drinking water down the drain every year. Nationwide, that adds up to 1 trillion gallons of wasted water every year.

Ready to fix that leak yet? It's the perfect time, as the fourth annual Fix-a-Leak Week is upon us. Every year, the EPA's WaterSense Program teams up with partners around the country to help promote this special observance, happening this year from March 12 - 18. Fixing household leaks might not sound like the most exciting holiday, but keep in mind that 2012 celebrations include everything from showerhead giveaways in New Mexico to special workshops teaching kids to be "Leak Detectives" in West Virginia. In 2011, an Arizona community even sponsored a race lead by a giant toilet mascot to draw attention to the issue of leaks.

Want to participate? There are a lot of different ways to help - even some that don't involve jogging behind a toilet.

-Pledge to take action against the leaks in your own home. It may be annoying to call up the plumber or dig out your wrench, but the savings on your water bill (not to mention the satisfaction of making a positive environmental choice) are more than worth it.

-Search for an event in your area. From DIY lessons on replacing a toilet flapper to demonstrations of water-saving products, cities across the country are getting involved.

-Get in there and fix a leak! The WaterSense website has lots of great resources to help you roll up your sleeves, find, and then fix household leaks yourself.

 

 

Posted: 3/15/2012 3:20:21 PM by Heather Wallace | with 0 comments



Outdoor Water Saving Tips to Start Today

 

 

  Contributed by Nora DePalma

 

Last week, we made a few points about fresh clean water not being an endless resource.

Regardless of how blue our planet looks from space, less than one percent of the water on earth resembles anything you would want to drink. Right here in the US, 36 states are anticipating water shortages by 2013, and ten metropolitan areas expect critical water shortages in the near future.

Did you try any of our indoor water saving tips?

This week, we step outside with tips to save water. No, it doesn’t mean an ugly yard, anymore than saving water indoors means giving up brushing your teeth. Just a few changes, that’s all we ask!

 

Changes You Can Make Today 

-This is pretty much a no-brainer. Adjust outside sprinkler so you’re not watering the sidewalk, driveway or gutters.

-Step away from the mower. Keep your grass a little longer during summer months saves water, and reduces your chore list!

-See water running down the street during your daily walk? If it hasn’t rained for a while and no one is watering, you might have a pipe leak in your neighborhood. Report it to your local water authority.

-Sweep your driveway and walkways, instead of hosing them down. This also prevents debris from entering the drainage system.

-Wash your car at a carwash, instead of your driveway. Preferably, use a carwash that recycles its water.  If the siren call of hand carwashing is too compelling to ignore, turn off your hose while scrubbing.

 

Long-Term Changes for Conservation Champs

-Instead of constantly running the garbage disposal, start a compost pile. Get the kids involved and grow yourself some awesome gardening soil for next year’s planting season.

-Work with a local landscape professional or garden center to start converting your yard to less grass and more decorative, water-sipping plantings. 

-Install a rainwater capture system. Use rainwater to water plants.

 

 

Posted: 3/8/2012 11:33:36 AM by Heather Wallace | with 1 comments



Water, Water Everywhere - But Only a Few Drops to Drink

 

 

 Contributed by Nora DePalma

 

Gas prices are up, heating and cooling costs are up. Who cares about water? Just turn on the tap for a less than a dollar a day and give me something real to worry about.

Did you know that in 2007, the town of Orme, TN actually ran out of water?  Just 150 miles from Atlanta, residents turned on the tap and nothing happened.  The creek had literally ran dry.  For a few months, the townspeople had to make do with three hours of water per day. Tony Reames, the town mayor at the time, told FOX News that while the town of 145 residents could deal with it for the short period, "I feel for the folks in Atlanta...you've got 4.5 million people down there. What are they going to do? It's a scary thought."

Are we doomed to a future of globe-spanning deserts and tall, refreshing glasses of treated sewage?  No, not in the US. We’ll just raise taxes to build more treatment facilities. 

Wait…did I just say raise taxes?  Maybe that’s why of the three states that passed water conservation legislation, two are the redder-than-red Texas and Georgia.  (The other is uber-green/blue California.)

So, water conservation isn’t some weirdo pinko liberal talking point. It’s a direct wallet hit, right behind gasoline and home comfort costs.  Luckily, small changes that don’t feel like sacrifice can pay off big time.  Here’s a few things to do today inside your home and office that will start to add up nicely to have a big impact on water savings:

 

Changes You Can Make Today: 

-Don’t keep the water running while brushing your teeth or shaving. (I was amazed how ingrained the habit was to run the water while brushing. I still have to be aware and stop myself after six months.)

-Shorten your shower! Trimming your shower time to just 5 minutes can save 80 gallons of water per week. Reward yourself by using the time you've saved to sleep in an extra ten minutes!

-Dripping faucets and leaky toilets waste 10,000 gallons of water a day in the average American home, so get them fixed. Check your toilet for leaks by adding food coloring to your toilet tank. If it shows up in the bowl within 30 minutes, you have a leak.

-A full dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes by hand. Skipping the pre-rinse earns you even more eco points, not mention a grateful husband and kids who have one less chore.

-No half-loads of laundry. Save up for a full load.

-Keep a pitcher of cold filtered water in the fridge, rather than letting the water run until it gets cold.

 

Long-Term Changes for Conservation Champs

-Keep warm! That time you spend waiting for water to warm up isn't just annoying - it's also wasteful. Insulate your hot water pipes to save time, water, heating oil, money, carbon emissions - need we go on? A hot water heater booster closer to point of use can also help.

-When you're ready to upgrade to a new faucet, showerhead, or toilet, look for products that carry the EPA's WaterSense label. It's this season's most fashionable label, and it also indicates that product claims about water efficiency and performance were evaluated by an independent third party, so you can shop with confidence.

 

NEXT WEEK: slow down outdoor water use.

 

Posted: 3/1/2012 12:54:04 PM by Heather Wallace | with 2 comments



About Me


Cute name. Serious commitment.

Welcome to the Green Chix blog. Each month we are exploring topics that we hope you will find relevant, interesting and supportive of a sustainable way of life. Join Green Chix and become a fellow ambassador for Mother Nature and help us to influence the world and spread the word on sustainable living.

Confident, smart and inspired, Green Chix are teachers, activists, business leaders, mothers and philosphers, infused with the power of nature to bring about positive change to a world in turmoil.

     

e: catherine@greenbuildermag.com

 

 

 

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