A recent report that looked at water usage in Canadian households found that the median amount of water used was 243 liters per day. In some developing countries the average person uses as little as 20 liters per day, about the same amount used by the average Brit in the 19th century.
Clearly the levels of hygiene in the 19th century aren’t what they are today but the takeaway remains the same: we are wasting water.
According to Environment Canada about 65 percent of indoor water usage occurs in the bathroom, making this a good place to cut back and conserve. Take a look at the below chart and see for yourself how prevalent water usage is in the bathroom, taking up the top two spots with showers and baths at 35 percent and toilet flushing at 30 percent.
Understanding that showers and toilets account for much of our water usage can help you to come up with a plan that helps to conserve water in these areas. Let’s take a closer look at how we can all do our part to conserve water while bathing, with our toilets and in other areas of the bathroom that may be overlooked.
Because showers take up the most of our home’s water (according to the above report), it makes sense to start saving water there. We all know that standing in front of a steamy, hot shower is a great relaxer, but did you know that the use of a standard shower head can equate to as much as 10 wasted liters of water per minute?
The solution to this problem is simple; install a high-efficiency shower head and reduce your time in the shower. You’ll be able to save as much as 30,000 liters of water each year and you’ll also be cutting back on your home electricity bill as heating water accounts for one of the biggest drains in total home electricity.
You’ll notice that toilet water usage is just behind that of your shower at 30 percent of water used in your home. This can often be attributed to small toilet and faucet leaks which can turn into huge wastes of water over time. Even a small toilet with a leak can waste as much as 75 liters each day, but often goes by undetected because unlike the “drip, drip, drip” of a leaky faucet, your toilet is not as obvious.
For a few bucks you can get a toilet leak test kit and place a drop or two of the blue dye into your tank. After waiting 10 to 15 minutes (without flushing), check the bowl to see if any of the dye is in there. If so, you have yourself a toilet leak and are wasting water – and money – and should look to get it fixed or to replace your toilet altogether.
Like the installation of a high-efficiency shower head to cut back on that 35 percent of water usage that comes while you are lathering your beautiful hair, you can also cut back on the water used by those old toilets and upgrade the look of your bathroom simultaneously. Today’s new, water-saving toilets can save you as much as 60,000 liters of water per year and $100s in water costs.
Not sure how old your toilet is? Take off the lid and look for some numbers in the tank to find the year. If your toilet has a year older than 1992 (when plumbing standards were passed in the U.S., much of which affects toilets sold in Canada), it is likely your toilet uses 13.2 to 26.5 liters per flush (3.5 to 7 GPF). Compare this to modern toilets that are required to use less than 4.8 liters per flush (1.28 GPF). Note: Your toilet probably also mentions how much water is used per flush.
Check out this graph by The American Water Works Association that shows the potential water savings a high-efficiency toilet can afford you (albeit in gallons):
The little ones can also be the cause of wasted water within the bathroom. Still, it is up to the parents to educate them as to why it is important to save water and how they can do a few things differently. One of the most common water-saving techniques is to learn to turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth. Another big one for kids is turning the shower on and waiting longer than needed to allow it to get hot. Letting them know that they are likely wasting a lot of water – both hot and cold – and that their action is a poor environmental decision as well as a costly one may help to reduce their time spent doing other activities while anticipating the hot water.
Saving water in the bathroom can be as simple as turning off the faucet while brushing our teeth or shaving, being more aware of how long it actually takes for the shower to get hot or a number of high-efficiency investments.
Water is not a free resource. It takes a lot of work to provide clean water to homes and businesses across Canada and too many people are taking it for granted. As of right now, Canada enjoys the lowest cost out of any other country to have water delivered from municipal treatment plants to our homes. By conserving water in the bathroom and around the home we can all do our part to keep it that way.