An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal caught my eye recently. It described how many businesses have adapted to California’s three-year drought with water-saving initiatives that save them money without putting a crimp on their production.
For instance, the MillerCoors brewery in Irwindale has cut water usage by 30% since 2009 by installing low-flow toilets and substituting air for water cooling for its computer servers. Facebook also substituted air cooling for water for its vast bank of computer servers. Not only are their businesses humming along without missing a beat, they are even better off than before the drought thanks to water and energy savings they might not have thought to implement otherwise.
They say that every cloud has a silver lining. The one in our current drought may be that it presents all of us with an opportunity to adapt to a more sustainable way of life without necessarily sacrificing our lifestyles in any meaningful way. Thousands of homeowners have learned that desert plants can provide landscaping just as pleasing to the eye as water-guzzling lawns and shrubbery. Many of us are more conscientious about turning off faucets and spigots quicker than we used to – and if we haven’t done so voluntarily, California’s new statewide water restrictions will soon convince many homeowners that it’s in their self-interest to do so.
Take a look around your home. Are there ways you can reduce water usage without seriously cramping your way of life? How about those slow leaks and drips that you’ve been living with, thinking that they’re not worth calling a plumber to fix? Think again. A faucet that leaks at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 2,000 gallons per year. That’s enough water to flush your toilet more than 1,300 times! If your toilet is running constantly, you could be wasting 200 gallons of water or more every day! Multiply your per-gallon water rate to find out how much it’s costing you to send all that water uselessly down the drain.
According to the EPA, leaks account for, on average, 10,000 gallons of water wasted in the home every year, which is enough to fill a backyard swimming pool. EPA studies also have found that 10% of homes have leaks that waste more than 90 gallons per day, which comes to almost 33,000 gallons a year. Yikes!
That doesn’t surprise us. Our trained, professional plumbers commonly find barely noticeable leaks in toilet flappers, faucets and showerheads. These leaks are easily fixed and in most cases the money saved by fixing them will pay for our service call within a few months, maybe even weeks.
Also, if you’re living in an older home with ancient toilets, faucets and showerheads, replacing them with newer low-flow products can achieve water savings that run into hundreds, even thousands, of dollars a year.
Mother Nature is teaching all of us to live with less water. It doesn’t have to be a painful lesson.