I wrote about saving water a while ago and it's now up for a review. Now the City of Minneapolis has online billing and historical usage data available. Anyone can go to their website and plug in an address and look up the water usage. They measure water usage in Units of water, where 1 Unit = 748 Gallons.
I just went there and looked up our 2010 water usage. Back in 2008, when I wrote the prior article, we consumed about 36000 gallons per year for our family of 4. This past year, we consumed 33,600 gallons for our now family of 5. That's not bad considering we had a garden that we watered quite a bit. Several sites estimate usage for a family of 4 at between 100,000 and 144,000 gallons per year. So our consumption is 1/4 of the national average. Just to make sure that 100,000 is a reasonable estimate, I checked a couple of other houses on our block. I came up with 101,700 and 94,200. Both of those families have 4 people in them, and both of them water the lawns. The summer months were much higher in water usage, but the winter months were still much higher than our usage. We average 2800 gallons per month, while even without the summer watering, they averaged 6000 gallons. That means those families are using about 30,000 gallons per year to water their lawn, and 70,000 gallons per year for daily usage.
1. Don't water the lawn. Or water the lawn less. This takes a ton of water, literally, to keep it green. Besides, then you are mowing more often anyway.
2. Switch to low flow faucets and low flow shower heads.
3. If you have an older toilet, replace it. Old toilets use about 4 gallons per flush, while all new toilets are mandated to use 1.6 gallons or less. Dual flush toilets are a great idea and I found that Costco has one for only $89. That's less expensive than the toilets we have. It uses 1 gallon on a small flush, and 1.6 gallons on a full flush.
4. Only do dishes in the dishwasher and don't pre-rinse the dishes. Dishwashers nowadays use about 6 gallons for a load of dishes. Washing by hand easily uses twice as much.
5. Don't let the water run while brushing your teeth, or while hand washing dishes.
6. Fix any leaky faucets.