Drip. Drip. Drip. The average American household wastes more than 10,000 gallons each year from easy-to-fix water leaks—that’s the amount of water needed to wash 270 loads of laundry. If that doesn’t seem like a lot, consider that across the country, easy-to-fix household leaks can add up to nearly 1 trillion gallons of water lost every year.
That’s why the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Town of Lyons encourage homeowners to find and fix leaks. Fixing household leaks not only saves water but can reduce your town water utility bill by about 10 percent. Start saving today with three simple steps: Check. Twist. Replace.
First, check your home for leaks. An easy way to start is to examine your winter water use. If it exceeds 12,000 gallons per month for a family of four, you probably have leaks. Walk around your home with eyes and ears open to find leaks, and don’t forget to check pipes and outdoor spigots.
You can also detect silent toilet leaks, a common water-wasting culprit, by adding a few drops of food coloring to the back of the toilet in the tank and waiting 10-15 minutes before flushing. If any of the food coloring appears in the bowl during that time, your toilet has a leak. Visit the EPA’s WaterSense® program for do-it-yourself repair tips or contact a plumbing professional.
Apply pipe tape to be sure plumbing fixture connections are sealed tight and give leaking faucets and shower heads a firm twist with a wrench. If you can’t stop those drops yourself, contact a plumbing professional.
For additional savings, twist a WaterSense labeled aerator onto each bathroom faucet to save water without noticing a difference in flow. Faucet aerators cost a few dollars or less and can save a household more than 500 gallons each year—the amount of water it takes to shower 180 times!
If you just can’t zip that drip, it may be time to replace the fixture. Look for EPA’s WaterSense® labeled models, which use at least 20 percent less water and are independently certified to perform as well or better than standard plumbing fixtures.
Replacing an old, inefficient shower head with a WaterSense labeled model will shrink your household’s water footprint by 2,700 gallons annually while still letting you shower with power, thanks to EPA’s efficiency and performance criteria. Showering is one of the leading ways we use water in the home, accounting for nearly 17 percent of residential indoor water use. For the average family, that adds up to nearly 40 gallons per day.
Replacing older, inefficient toilets with WaterSense labeled models, the average family can reduce their water used for toilets by 20 to 60 percent—that's nearly 13,000 gallons of water savings for your home every year! They could also save more than $110 per year in water costs, and $2,200 over the lifetime of the toilets.