We all know how much water is wasted every day just by not turning off the faucet when we brush our teeth, and lots of us have schooled ourselves to do it, in the interests of conservation and our household bills. That’s a simple way to save water, but a lot more can be saved by more high-tech solutions.
Low-flow faucets aren’t rocket science, but they can make a significant difference to water consumption. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urges us all to switch to them. The standard flow rate of a domestic faucet is 2.2 gallons a minute. Low-flow faucets can cut that quite dramatically, to about 1.5 gallons per minute. That’s a massive reduction of about a third.
It may not make a difference if you’re filling the sink or the kettle. The only advantage of older faucets here is that you will save a couple of seconds of your precious time. But if you are rinsing things under the faucet, it does count towards water wastage. It may not be a lot, but if many millions of people do it a couple of times a day, that’s a lot of water just going down the plughole. The negative effects include issues like increased pressure on drainage systems.
Being eco-friendly means making small adjustments to the ways we live and consume, because they really do add up. The EPA estimates that if we all replaced our old faucets with approved, water-efficient models, the savings would be striking: 64 billion gallons of water a year! In money terms it’s even more striking: $1.2 billion dollars.
It may not even be a matter of replacing the taps. Changing the plumbing can be surprisingly expensive. A simple aerator can make a difference, so check whether your faucets actually have them. If you’ve never really gotten too familiar with your faucets as long as they deliver water, you may not know what it is. In most faucets it’s just a simple plastic fitting that fits inside. As the name suggests, it helps add air to the water, increasing its volume and reducing the speed of water flow.
For a standard faucet you should be able to buy one for a couple of dollars, ten bucks at the most. Installing it is as simple as putting a cork in a bottle. If you have an aerator in your faucet, you can check its efficiency rating by looking at the numbers stamped on it. That’s the flow rate, measured in gallons per minute (gpm). Obviously, the lower, the more efficient it will be. Also look out for the WaterSense mark, which shows that it meets EPA criteria.
Saving water is something we can all do without a huge amount of effort. If you’re going to check your sink and consider installing low-flow faucets, think about your shower head, too. It’s all part of giving something back to the beautiful planet that sustains us, and adopting sustainable living habits in return.
Posted December 11, 2013
by Gabriel Posternak.