What is a Household Water Survey and How is it Done?
A household water survey is a review of how much water is being used in your home. Once total daily water usage is calculated simple but affective measures can be implemented to save water.
How Can I Find Out How Much Water My Family Uses Per Day?
Obviously conditions change throughout the year, in the summer months people typically water the lawn/garden or wash the car in the driveway. In the fall and winter these activities taper off, it’s a good idea to do two survey’s per year.
Calculating Water Usage From Your Meter.
It’s probably best to start off calculating water usage using your water meter. If your water bill provides you with water usage data you can compare the two and make sure the bill is accurate. A water meter measures the total daily water used in your home they are usually located somewhere on the front of the house. Household water meters are measured in cubic feet, cubit meters, gallons or liters. Take a reading at some point during the day and then take a reading at the same time 24 hours later. You may want to conduct readings over the coarse of a week to get a daily average.
Calculating Water Usage Using Your Water Bill
Most municipalities give you a water bill that shows household water usage during a predetermined billing cycle. Some even go the
extra mile and tell you the average daily consumption which makes this survey thing pretty easy. If this information isn’t provided you can make the calculations yourself by taking the total amount of water used and dividing by the number of days in the billing cycle. As mentioned in the above not every municipality calculates water usage in gallons below is a simple chart to convert the different measurement units to gallons.
- Cubic Meters (m3) x 264 = gallons
- Cubic Feet (ft3) x7.48 = gallons
- Liters (L) x 0.264 = gallons
Or you can use this handy conversion tool to plug in the numbers and you don’t even have to pull out a calculator. (plug in conversion widget)
Calculating Water Usage Without a Meter or a Bill
To be honest this is the most important exercise to be done in a household water survey. Even if you can gain the information from the bill or the meter this gives you a feel for just how much water each fixture/appliance uses and gives you perspective on how you can conserve using some pretty simple techniques.
- The average non-high efficient Washing Machine uses approximately 41 gal per use.
- The average non-high efficient dishwasher uses approximately 9 gal per use.
- To measure flow rates for faucets, outdoor spigots, tub fillers and shower heads, get a graduated container that measures in gallons or quarts (4 quarts to a gallon). Turn on the faucet to a normal flow rate (Tub fillers typically crack out some heavy volume so turn in on to flow you would use to fill your tun), place the container under the faucet for ten seconds. Measure the amount in the container and multiply by 6 (60 seconds) to get your gallons per minute. (G.P.M.)
- To measure flow rates for your toilet, locate the water closet shut off valve and turn off the water supply. Take a pencil and mark the fill line on the inside of the tank. Flush the tank and take your container you used from above and fill it with tap water. Measure the amount of water it takes to fill up the tank back to the mark you made and write the number down. Obviously turn the water back on so you can resume using.
- The next step is pretty tedious but necessary, think about how many times a faucet, shower, or appliance is used and for how long? Do you leave the water on when you brush your teeth or while you’re shaving. Multiply the flow per fixture by the number of minutes it is used per day. Multiply the average flow for your appliances by how many times per week they are used.
How Much Water Do We Use?
The average US citizen uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water per day. If your above 120 gallons a day your using a lot of water. Regardless of how much water you use there are plenty of ways to conserve.
Where Do We Start, What Can the Average Household Do to Begin?
- Would you believe that the largest use of household water is used to flush the toilet? This is the first step you can take to begin saving significant amounts of water. If you have a toilet made prior to 1993 it’s probably a 3.5 GPF toilet. After 1993 manufacturers
had to make all toilets flush at 1.6 GPF. To say that the early 1.6 GPF flushed horribly would be an understatement. However today’s 1.6 GPF toilets have fantastic flushing capacity. Most manufacturers are make HET (High Efficiency Toilets) @ 1.3 GPF and or dual flush toilets, down is a 1.0 GPF for removal of liquid waste and up flushes at 1.3 for removal of solid waste. These toilets have been engineered to perform like their predecessors. You can only imagine how much water savings a household of 4 can achieve just by changing out the toilets.
- A conventional shower head uses anywhere from 3 to 10 GPM a low flow shower head uses 2 to 2.5 GPM. Multiply that by the minutes in the shower and you again have significant savings.
- If you’ve got older lavatory faucets in your home it’s probably got an aerator that regulates the flow to between 3 and 6.5 GPM. An aerator is a small circular screen that screws on the spout of your faucet. It reduces flow by adding air to the water giving you the sensation of more volume. New aerators can be installed the reduce the flow to between 2.5 GPM to .05 GPM.