Water is a great example of something that is so cheap – less than a penny a litre – that we take it for granted. We run the tap when we brush our teeth (at 7.5 litres wasted per minute), we ignore leaks (5 to 10 per cent of Canadian homes are losing 340 litres of water a day through leaks), and the result is that we end up spending $500 a year per household on something that is supposedly practically “free.” A leak of only one drop per second wastes about 9,000 litres of water per year, or the equivalent of 16 baths every month.
But water won’t be free forever. As Natural Resources Canada and other organizations point out, water is a finite resource. Even though 70 per cent of the planet is covered by it, less than 1 per cent is available for human use. In Canada, water shortages are expected to occur soon, especially in the Prairie provinces.
The good news is it’s possible to use 30 per cent less water by making some fairly simple changes in our homes. Along with conserving this literally life-sustaining resource, we can save about $156 a year in the process.
Turn off the tap
There are so many ways to save water in and around your home, and some simply require a change of habit – like not running the tap while brushing your teeth and running the dishwasher only when it is full. Energy Star appliances are designed to be not only energy efficient but also water efficient.
Your toilet uses the most water of anything in your home. A regular toilet can use up to 26 litres of water every time you flush, depending on how old it is (new ones use about seven litres). But the newer, dual-flush models have separate buttons for big and small flushes, using seven and four litres. Replacing an 18-litre-per-flush toilet with an ultra-low-volume (ULV) six-litre flush model represents a 66 per cent savings in water flushed and will cut indoor water use by about 30 per cent. Install low-flow shower heads, too. Low-flow shower heads use up to 60 per cent less water than standard fixtures.
$72 a year just in your bathroom.
35,000 litres of water per year.
Go green action steps
• Start by fixing leaky pipes and fixtures – and don’t forget sprinkler systems. The site oee.nrcan.gc.ca/residential offers some useful information, including instructions on how to figure out if your toilet leaks. (Don’t laugh. A toilet that continues to run after flushing, if the leak is large enough, can waste as much as 200,000 litres of water in a single year!)
• When you’re replacing your toilet, buy a dual flush model. Install low-flow shower heads now.
• For dozens of ways to save water, go to www.on.ec.gc.ca.
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Excerpted from Go Green, Live Rich by David Bach. Copyright 2008 by David Bach. Excerpted with permission from Random House Canada. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced except with permission in writing from the publisher.