The Challenge: Conserve Water!
Using water at home to shower, do laundry, and wash dishes, all consumes energy. It takes energy to clean and transport water, to heat it if need be, and to handle wastewater after use. Hot water is responsible for a quarter of residential energy use worldwide. The average American withdraws ninety-eight gallons of water each day. Roughly 60% is used indoors, for toilets, washing machines, showers and faucets. 30% is used outdoors, almost entirely for watering lawns and gardens. Another 10% is lost to leaks.*
For cutting back water usages indoors, two technologies are key: low-flow flush toilets and water-efficient washing machines. These technologies have the advantage of being one-time upgrades. But individual behaviors can also curtail indoor water use. Reducing average shower time ti five minutes, washing only full loads of cloths, and flushing three times less per household per day can each reduce water use by 7% to 8%.*
Outdoors, water use can be reduced by using captured rainwater, shifting to plants that do not require it, and allowing lawns to be watered only by rain and letting them go brown when rain is in short supply.
*Hawken, P. (2017). Drawdown: The most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming. Penguin Books.