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Conservation

Is your water bill too high?

Take 15 minutes to conserve gallons of water every day, and stop the drain on your dollars. You may think those little leaks in your bathroom don't amount to a drop in the bucket. Not so. The sneakiest drip can be found in your bathroom toilet. Toilet tank leaks, almost undetectable to the naked eye, can add $100 or more to your monthly bill.

WATER LEAKS COST YOU MONEY
Leak Size Water Wasted per Month Water Wasted per Year
one-quarter inch circle 1/4 in. 393,830 gals. 4,485,960 gals.
one-eight inch circle 1/8 in. 98,666 gals. 1,184,000 gals.
one-sixteenth inch circle 1/16 in. 24,666 gals. 296,000 gals.
one-thirtysecond inch dot 1/32 in. 6,166 gals. 74,000 gals.

To identify those pesky leaks, Utility Services of Alaska offers free Home Water-Saving Kits. These kits contain dye tablets and instructions on how, why and when to conduct a leak test.

Frequently Asked Questions about Conservation

Q: What activity in my home uses the most water?

A: Toilet flushing is by far the largest single use of water in a home. Most toilets use from 4 to 6 gallons of water for each flush. On the average, a dishwasher uses about 50 percent less water than the amount used when you wash and rinse dishes by hand if the dishes are not pre-rinsed and if only full loads are washed in the dishwasher. Without counting lawn watering, typical percentages of water use for a family of four are:

Toilet flushing – 40%
Bath and shower – 32%
Laundry – 14%
Dishwashing – 6%
Cooking and drinking – 5%
Bathroom sink – 3%

Q: Should I put a brick in my toilet tank to save water? How does this save water?

A: Toilet flushing uses a lot of water, and putting something in the toilet tank that takes up space means that less water will be used each time the tank refills after a flush, but putting a brick in your toilet tank is not a good idea. Bricks tend to crumble and might damage the toilet's flushing mechanism. Instead, use a glass jar, a plastic bag, or a jug filled with water. Because some toilets require a certain volume of water to work right, be sure to test the toilet to make sure it is still flushing well after any change.

Never use your toilet as a garbage can. Using several gallons of water to get rid of a tissue or a cigarette is very wasteful. Also remember that toilet tanks can leak. To check, put a few drops of food coloring in the tank, wait about 15 minutes, and look in the bowl. If the food coloring shows up there, the tank is leaking and should be fixed. Toilets should be checked for leaks twice a year.

Q: I heard that it is a good idea to control the flow of water from my showerhead. How do I measure how fast my shower is using water?

A: You need two things: a bucket and a watch that can time seconds. The bucket needs to have a 1-gallon mark on it. If it doesn't, add a gallon of water and mark the level.

Set the shower flow just as you would when showering. Put the empty bucket under the showerhead to catch all the water and hold it there for 24 seconds (having someone else hold the watch probably will help make this easier). The bucket will weigh 8 to 10 pounds after the 24 seconds, so be prepared.

If the water is near the 1-gallon mark, your showerhead is flowing at the recommended amount. If the level is way over the 1-gallon mark, you should consider a new low-flow showerhead (flow restrictors often produce a weak spray) to conserve water.

Q: Which uses more water, a tub bath or a shower?

A: That depends on many factors: how big your tub is, how long you shower, how fast the water comes out of your showerhead, whether or not you turn off the water while soaping, and so forth. Answer this question yourself by closing the drain when you shower and see if you get a tub full of water. Don't try this in a shower stall.

Q: I leave the water running while I brush my teeth. Does this waste much water?

A: Yes. Leaving the water running is a bad habit; about 4 to 6 gallons of water go down the drain needlessly every time you brush. Turning off the water when you are not using it will save water and save you money.

Q: I use a lot of water in the kitchen. How can I conserve there?

A: Here are several tips:

Q: My water faucet drips. Should I bother to fix it?

A: Yes. Drips waste water, even though the dripping water may not register on your water meter. To find out how much water you are wasting, put an 8-ounce cup under the drip and find out how many minutes it takes to fill it up. Divide the filling time into 90 (90 divided by minutes to fill) to get the gallons of water wasted each day.

Q: How should I water my lawn to avoid wasting water?

A: Water your lawn for long periods a couple of times each week, rather than every day. This allows deep penetration of the water. Water early in the morning to avoid excessive evaporation; it is usually less windy then too, and the water pressure is usually higher. Except in the arid West, night watering may promote lawn disease. Use a sprinkler that makes large drops, because small drops evaporate faster. Try to avoid watering paved areas and don't use your hose to wash sidewalks or driveways.

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