Residential Water Use – Inside the Home
The Pie Chart to the right illustrates common water use in the home and toilets account for the single largest item for water used in the average home. On top of just use, toilets can leak, wasting additional water. By design water flows from the tank behind the toilet to the bowl by gravity and there are a number of connections and seals that over time can begin to leak. Leaking toilets can waste between 30 and 500 gallons per day and that adds up annually to between 11,000 to 185,000 gallons! Leaking toilets are more common than people think and leaking can be greater at night when it goes unnoticed since residents use toilets less late at night through the following early morning.
Some customers have said they can hear the toilet at night but not during the day and there is a practical reason for this condition.
Most water utilities see water pressure increases in the overall system due to customers not running water in the home during the late hours extending into the early morning before most people start the day. As a result water pressure in the home can rise on the order of 10 to 20 pounds per square inch (psi) or more. This condition has been shown to affect the level of water inside the toilet tank by ½ inch; commonly referred to as “water creep”. If the water is near the tank over flow tube in the tank under normal daily pressure, it can flow at night into the drain pipe. This is the sound one hears when water is flowing into the bowl from the tank. For this reason most manufacturers say to set the water level in the tank to an inch below the overflow tube to prevent this condition. Other sources of leaks include seals and the flapper lid in the toilet tank. To check for leaks in toilets customers can do this by following the simple instructions below:
- Remove the toilet tank lid.
- Drop one dye tablet or 10 drops of food coloring into the tank. Dye tablets are available from Pluris and are free. To receive tablets call Pluris customer care at (888) 758-7471 to request them. The customer care representatives will contact the local office for your utility and have someone arrange to provide the tablets.
- Put the lid back on. Do not flush.
- Wait at least 10-15 minutes, and then look in the bowl. If you see colored water, you have a leak. If not, you don't.
If there is no color in the toilet bowl you do not have a leak. If there is color, or if you already can hear and or see water running in your bowl, it’s time for a new flapper! You can buy individual flappers at Home Depot, Lowes or other hardware stores. Toilet “kits” include flappers and other seals for the toilet and these too are available. Pluris encourages customers with leaking flappers to buy the kits and replace the other seals as well.
After installing the new flapper, run the dye test again to assure you have no leak.
Other conservation tips for water used inside the home include:
- Shutting the water off when brushing your teeth and shaving.
- Installing low flush toilets and flow-restricting aerators on your faucets.
- Installing low consumption (1.6 gal/flush) toilets. This can save up to 14,000 gallons of water per year. Fix small leaks in your bathroom toilet as soon as you find them.
- Taking shorter showers.
- Installing water-saving shower heads.
- Watering lawns only when it needs it. Water saving automatic controllers such as Rachio actually use local weather conditions to schedule watering as needed. These controllers can be downloaded to your laptop or smart phone. These controllers are available at Home Depot, Lowes and other hardware stores.
- Not continually running the water hose while washing cars.
- Using automatic dishwashers and washing machines only for full loads.
- Using a dishpan or plugging the sink for washing and rinsing dishes.
- Installing a low-flow aerator on all faucets.
- Not pre-rinsing dishes before loading in the dishwasher.
- Refrigerating a pitcher of drinking water instead of letting the faucet flow until the water is cold enough to drink.
- Using the proper load-size selection on the washing machine.
- Instead of running water over fruits and vegetables to clean them, fill a bowl of water and use a brush.
- If in the market for a new washing machine, consider a front loader. Front loaders use less water and are more energy efficient.