Here in the United States, we are very lucky to have easy access to some of the safest treated water in the world—just by turning on the tap. We wake up in the morning, take a shower, brush our teeth, grab a cup of coffee, take a bottle of water and head out to work or various activites for the day. Water is perhaps our priority #1 resource used by everyone in our daily lives and we use it for a wide variety of purposes, but do we really understand how much we use?
According to the EPA, the average American family uses more than 300 gallons of water per day at home. Roughly 70 percent of this use occurs indoors. Nationally, outdoor water use accounts for 30 percent of household use yet can be much higher in drier parts of the country and in more water-intensive landscapes. A major water user is the West part of the US. This region has some of the highest per capita residential water use because of landscape irrigation.
Water also plays a big role in our local communities. Without water there would be no local business or industry. Fire fighting, municipal parks, and public swimming pools all need lots of water. An array of pipes, canals, and pumping stations managed by our public water systems are needed to bring a reliable supply of water to our taps each day. If you live in an area where natural lakes are present or a large number of Corp lakes have been built, then reservoirs may be close by, but what if that's not the case?
Where does all this water come from? It starts out as rain or snow and flows into our local lakes, rivers and streams or into underground aquifers. You can learn more about water in your state, including how it is being protected and where your local drinking water comes from. In order to answer this question a better question begins at home.
An easy to way to understand individual water use is to look at your water bill—not just the amount due, but how much water you used. There's much you can learn just by looking at your bill. Does your water use increase during certain times of the year? How does it compare with your neighbor? Once you understand how much you use, the WaterSense calculator can help determine how much water your household could save if you switched to more efficient, WaterSense labeled products.
Did you know that showering is one of the leading ways we use water in the home, accounting for nearly 17 percent of residential indoor water use? Statistics tell us that for the average family, that adds up to nearly 40 gallons per day. Based on those new figures, it calculates out to 1.2 trillion gallons of water used in the United States annually just for showering. Put in perspective, that would be enough to supply the water needs of New York and New Jersey for a year! Ok, so now that we have your attention, did you realize that by retrofitting your showerheads with WaterSense labeled models, you can save a considerable amount of this water?
The EPA saysa that standard showerheads use 2.5 gallons of water per minute (gpm). Water–saving showerheads that earn the WaterSense label, have strict requirements. Those requirements say that in order to have the WaterSense label, they must demonstrate that they use no more than 2.0 gpm. That same WaterSense label also ensures that these products provide a satisfactory shower that is equal to or better than conventional showerheads on the market. How did this all come about you may ask; the EPA worked with a variety of stakeholders—including consumers who tested various showerheads—to develop criteria for water coverage and spray intensity. The end result is all products bearing the WaterSense label—including water–saving showerheads—must be independently certified to ensure they meet EPA water efficiency and performance criteria.
Water–efficient showerheads, such as low-flow and restricted-flow showerheads, are an excellent way to reduce household water use. That said, what can you do? The average family could save 2,900 gallons per year by installing WaterSense labeled showerheads, and that's a great place to begin. Since these water savings will reduce demands on water heaters, they will also save energy. In fact, the average family could save more than 370 kilowatt hours of electricity annually, enough to power a house for 13 days.
If you do your part and begin that process of replacing your non-WaterSense showerheads nationally it will make a big difference. The EPA says that given today's standards, on a national scale, if every home in the United States installed WaterSense labeled showerheads, we could save more than $2.2 billion in water utility bills and more than 260 billion gallons of water annually. In addition, we could avoid about $2.6 billion in energy costs for heating water. This is fantastic!
Whether you are replacing an older, inefficient showerhead or simply looking for ways to reduce water use and utility bills in your home, look for the WaterSense label on showerheads along with faucets, faucet accessories, and toilets to help you identify models that save water and perform well. In many areas, utilities offer rebates and vouchers that can lower the price of a WaterSense labeled showerhead. Make Every Drop Count!
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