The Reality of Water Scarcity
If conserving water hasn't been much on your mind, it soon will be. One in three people on every continent of the globe are affected by water scarcity, and this number increases as the world population grows and requires more water for farming and economic development.
"The golden age of water is over," says Charles Fishman, author of The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water. "We cannot, going forward, expect to have water that is unlimited, inexpensive, and safe. Population growth, economic development (which changes dramatically how much water people want and use), and climate change are all putting pressure on water supplies," he says.
Saving Water Is Easier than You May Realize
Conserving water is not only an easy thing to do, it's the right thing to do. Perhaps surprisingly, people who embrace organic foods and sustainably sourced furniture do not always extend their environmental awareness to water conservation.
"Not all my clients are aware that conserving water is part of a green lifestyle," says Tanya Shively, owner of Sesshu Design Associates in Scottsdale, Arizona. "I often find myself educating people about the importance of conserving water and all the different ways they can do it."
You're probably familiar with these easy, quick-fix ways to save water:
- Take shorter showers
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth
- Run the washing machine and dishwasher only with
- Water the lawn less frequently
- Repair water leaks
Shively is quick to point out that there are additional ways to conserve water that also happen to be great opportunities for upgrading your home.
"There are so many more options for saving water than there were even a few years ago," says Shively. "The products come in all styles and they function far better than the old versions."
As you consider renovating an aging bathroom, look for products that incorporate these innovative water-saving technologies:
- Hands-free electronic faucets make it impossible to leave water running.
- Flow-optimized showerheads cut water consumption and energy costs by up to 30 percent. Some models even maintain the water temperature when the water is temporarily turned off.
- Flow-optimized aerators are an easy, low-cost solution if you're not quite ready to replace your bath, shower, and sink faucets.
- Low-flow toilets offer an effortless way to conserve water. Older toilets typically consume up to five gallons per flush, while the new, high-efficiency, low-flow models use only 1.28 gallons per flush. Over the course of the year, low-flush toilets can save more than 16,000 gallons of water.
- Dual-flush toilets offer the built-in water-saving features of low-flow toilets with the added feature of being able to reduce the water consumption even further by choosing between two flush options. On its lowest setting, a dual-flush toilet uses only 0.8 gallons per flush.
Save Money—and the Planet—with the WaterSense Label
It is estimated that the average household has a water and sewer bill of $500 or more per year. Replace outdated toilets, faucets, and showerheads with WaterSense-certified products and you could save 25 to 30 percent off that total bill.
Haven't heard of or seen the WaterSense label? Think of it as equivalent to the EnergyStar label on appliances. Similar to EnergyStar, WaterSense is a government-backed program that ensures high standards for efficiency and performance. Products must pass rigorous testing by an independent third party and meet or exceed EPA specifications to earn a WaterSense designation.
According to the EPA, if all U.S. households installed water-efficient appliances the country would save three trillion (yes, that's "trillion" with a "T") gallons of water and $18 billion dollars each year. If even a small percentage of U.S. households made the change, it would reap tremendous benefits—both to individual households as well as to the planet at large.