Water Management: Conservation NOW!
Historically, we’ve been so blessed with fresh water in the US that we tend to take plentiful home water use for granted. Great rivers and lakes and forested watersheds have provided abundant fresh water to most areas of the country. But pollution, drought, plus increasing population and agricultural demand have brought us to a point where planners predict serious shortfalls of potable water in the near future. We’ve already experiencing seasonal water shortages in many locales, and in some areas, critical water shortages now exist. Many experts believe the problem will only get worse.
As consumers of hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of gallons of water per household per day, each of us can contribute directly to mitigating this crisis by conserving water at home. As with power management, water conservation begins with awareness. A water management system that reports daily household use to your tablet or smart phone makes this easy to do. Once you know how much water you are using, automated water conservation systems can be designed and installed to meet your personal needs and integrated into an overall smart home automation system.
The first steps are simple—like installing low-flush toilets and low-flow shower heads. Then consider an instant hot water heater located in or near the kitchen or any bathroom that’s not next to the water heater. This will save all of that cold and not-quite-hot water you watch going down the drain while waiting to shower, shave, or wash dishes. It also saves on the energy needed to heat the water!
And don’t forget to check for leaks. The main culprits are running toilets, dripping faucets (inside and out), and sprinkler systems for the garden (including inaccurately programmed timers). When you think you’re done, check the water meter with everything turned off, to confirm that the meter has stopped and your home is leak-free.
Then move on to more active solutions. Fine tune sprinkler head patterns, flow, and timing, so they’ll use the minimum water needed to get the job done. Many jurisdictions limit outside watering to sunrise and sunset, when evaporative losses are minimal. It’s a conservation-savvy practice. Better yet, commit to a plan to transition to drought-resistant plants in your landscape.
Is a shower timer too radical? In submarines, sailors get a minute or so to shower. Does your teen-ager really need half an hour? Most importantly, link the monitoring and control of water-consuming devices into your integrated smart home plan, so it becomes a part of your daily (or weekly) review, and so you can adjust schedules, times and temperatures to meet changing family plans or weather conditions.
Fine tune your water use to your lifestyle and to the new water realities. You’ll conserve water and save money.