COUNTDOWN TO EARTH DAY: How To Conserve Water — Even in a 1960s Home

COUNTDOWN TO EARTH DAY: How To Conserve Water — Even in a 1960s Home

  • The Kane County Board Energy And Environmental Committee, Kane County Division of Environmental and Water Resources and Kane County Connects are teaming up for a “Count Down to Earth Day” series celebrating the success stories and spotlighting the environmental challenges we face right here, right now in Kane County, IL. Today’s article is written by Kane County Division of Environmental And Water Resources Director Jodie Wollnik.

When it comes to conserving water, little baby steps over time can go a long way.

Start with something simple like turning off the water while brushing your teeth or repairing/replacing a leaky fixture with a WaterSense (https://www.epa.gov/watersense) fixture.

Over time, you will see lower water bills that can add up to big savings.

When we moved into our 1960s home 25 years ago, besides being repulsed by the desert rose and Sears & Roebuck Harmony House purple toilets, we didn’t give much thought as to how much water the old fixtures in our house were using.

Toilets from before 1980 use five to seven gallons of water per flush compared to WaterSense toilets using 1.28 gallons per flush. The first generation water conserving toilets had their challenges, but since then, technology has advanced and today’s water conservation fixtures are high preforming and stylish.

Why Is Water Conservation Important?

Many residents in Kane County rely on groundwater for drinking water, and we are currently using our groundwater resources at a greater rate than it is being recharged which means we all need to do what we can to ensure this resource lasts us long into the future.

And the easiest way to help be a part of the solution is to conserve water at home.

How Much Water Are You Using?

Take a couple of your recent water bills. Count the number of days in the billing cycle.

If your water use is reported in cubic feet, multiply that usage by 7.48 to convert to gallons and divide the number by the days in the billing cycle. That will give you the gallons of water you are using per day.

Then divide that number by the people that live in your house.

Remember to compare summer and winter numbers as summer irrigation counts against you, too!

Our target goal is 65 gallons per person per day (CMAP Water Demand Forecast).

Example: 1000 CF x 7.48 = 7480 gal/30 days = 250 gallons per day / 3 people = 83 gallons per person per day. (In this case, you need to reduce water use by at least 18 gallons per person per day to meet target.)

All’s Well in Our 1960s Home

Just a few examples of ultra-low-flow shower heads.

So, how are we doing in our 1960s home after 25 years? One by one, we replaced all fixtures and appliances with water conserving models with the exception of our upstairs shower that is heavily used by three teenagers.

The current standard for low flow shower heads is 2.5 gallons per minute (gmp). Ours tested at 3 gpm. (You can use a 1-gallon bucket and a timer to test your fixtures.)

After a bit of research and some Youtube videos, we decided to try an Ultra-Low Flow Shower Head rated at 0.625 gpm — almost five times less water than our current shower head uses.

It’s been in for a few weeks, and I have to say, WE LOVE IT! It’s almost unbelievable that it’s putting out so little water as it feels much like any other shower at a much higher flow rate and the bonus is we are saving money on our water and gas bills in the process.

Our water usage (pre-shower swap out) was averaging 25 gallons per person per day, and we’re hoping with the shower head replacement we can get down to 20 gallons per person which would be incredible!

We’d love to hear your water conservation ideas! What action will you take to conserve water this year?

Read The 2021 Countdown to Earth Day Series!