How much water do you think you use on a daily basis? Well, double that amount. A new study shows that Americans underestimate their personal water usage by about half. With so many people using twice the amount of water that they realize, itís no wonder that conservation efforts are difficult.
Currently, many parts of the country are undergoing a major drought, so the need to reduce water is especially urgent. While water experts believe that people need about 13 gallons of clean water to survive each day, Americans tend to use nearly 100 gallons each day. Where is all that excess water going? The Los Angeles Times broke down the findings of the research:
Think Beyond Showers
When Americans were asked how they thought they could best reduce their water usage, nearly half went with the standard ďshorter showerĒ answers. The truth is that abbreviating showers by even three minutes only cuts down on a personís daily water use by 8%. In that sense, showers are not as big of a factor as most seem to think. While itís not to say that itís pointless to jump out of the shower sooner, certainly there are other ways to make a bigger impact.
Wash Clothes Smarter
For a household device that actually significantly influences your water usage, look no further than your washing machine. While doing laundry requires water, the precise amount can differ greatly depending on the model of the washer. Average top-loading machines require 34 gallons for each cycle, yet a high-efficiency uses only half of this amount to clean clothes as effectively. Switching to a more eco-friendly has a drastic impact, particularly over the long term, yet most survey respondents didnít even realize there was much of a difference in these washer models.
Consider Your Diet
Although itís even easier to disregard water that you donít see running right in front of you, the types of food you consume need water to be produced. In general, test subjects believe that all foods are created with roughly equal amounts of water. As the paper points out, a pound of sugar uses 157 gallons, a pound of rice uses 299 gallons, a pound of cheese uses 606 gallons, and a pound of coffee takes 2,264 gallons. Clearly, all foods arenít equal when it comes to water.
If youíre interested in learning more about how much water goes into making the food you eat, start with this interactive quiz from the USGS Water Science School. Youíll be surprised how much water goes into just getting a single potato onto your dinner plate.
Ready for the number one change you can make to save water in your home? Itís the toilet! Nearly 30% of the water we use each day comes from flushing, but most people polled didnít guess anywhere close to that, perhaps because weíre taught not to think about what goes on in the bathroom.
As the EPA advises, a low-flow toilet is the best tool. On average, these toilets use just 1.6 gallons per flush, whereas normal johns go through more than twice that amount. Surprisingly, only a small percentage of Americans even realized this kind of technology existed, which makes it no surprise that more people havenít fitted their homes with toilets that conserve water.