In my local newspaper last week, there was an article on water utility rates. In Georgia, specifically the Atlanta suburbs, we have enjoyed low water utility rates for a very long time. I live in a 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath 3200 square foot home. I don't have a lawn sprinkling system but I do water my vegetable garden and some of my shrubs during the dry season. My monthly water bill is anywhere from $20 to $40 depending on the season. The article explained that water rates are going to be raised to help offset shortfalls in revenue and to pay for system upgrades. My rates may triple soon.
I am now doubling my focus on conserving water in my home. In past efforts, I have done the following:
1. Fix Water Leaks. I called a plumber and had him fix all of the dripping faucets and running toilets in the home. He also inspected the entire water system for leaks. This was the best money I've ever spent since my water usage dropped by 20%
2. Install Low-Flow fixtures. I have aerators on all of my faucets but now have low-flow shower heads with on/off buttons. I use less water per shower and turn off the valve when I'm not rinsing. Unfortunately, I'm the only one in my household who does this consistently so the savings were minor. (I mean turning off the water valve. We all take showers!)
3. Install drought-resistant shrubs. I water my yard less now that most of the foliage is drought-resistant and doesn't require daily watering.
I have always known that the biggest water wasters in my home are the four 1991 vintage toilets. They have large reservoirs and use around 5 gallons of water per flush. Since the average person in the US flushes a toilet 4 times per day, that means I use around 30,000 gallons of water a year flushing toilets. (I reduced the number by 6500 gallons for flushes that happen at other locations)
If I install a 1.28 gpf low-flow toilet, I should be able to reduce my annual water usage by 25% or 7,500 gallons. In addition, Georgia has a toilet rebate program that will pay a $100 water bill rebate for up to two toilets per home for a 1.28 gpf toilet on the approved list. I'm starting to think that I will definitely be doing a toilet upgrade in my home this fall!
After doing a little research online, it looks like the Kohler Wellworth Model K-11498-0 qualifies for the $100 rebate and has the highest flush power rating in its class. It is also available from my local home improvement store. I will likely upgrade the two most used toilets in the home first unless I can get a multi-toilet installation discount from my plumber.
I hope this has been helpful. I will provide follow-up information after the toilet upgrade to let you know how well it worked. Come visit the Residential Water Conservation forum at the Mapawatt Community to join the discussion on how to best conserve water in your home!
In the spirit of the picture on this blog post, see if you can find a creative way to dispose of your old toilet. However, make sure you check with your Home Owner's Association before making them a part of your landscaping!