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Water Saving Practices

Posted on September 21, 2009 by HSC

Sixty-seven percent of households leak 38 litres of water per day. Worse yet, five percent of households leak an average of more than 380 litres per day! Reducing your water consumption by repairing leaks and drips and by replacing old, less water-efficient fixtures with new water-saving devices helps to reduce your operating costs, create a more comfortable, healthy environment for tenants and helps to solve a global problem.

To identify conservation opportunities:

  • Conduct a water use audit
  • Record and fix items in need of repair immediately or as soon as possible
  • Implement a leak reporting and repair program within each housing community
  • Post a list of tips and methods in common areas to educate and help reduce water consumption and show that money saved in utility bills can be put to use improving homes.

A significant amount of water can be wasted by leaks created by damaged piping; corroded valves, worn washers and leaking toilets. A leak of one drop per second can waste as much as 10,000 litres of water per year. Hot water can be as much as 20% of total energy costs in the average home. If hot water is leaking, the energy used to heat the water is also wasted. A toilet that continues to run after flushing can waste up to 200,000 litres per year that’s enough to fill a swimming pool. If a toilet leak is substantial, you should be able to hear the water running. If the leak is small and you are not sure if you can hear it or not, tint the tank with food colouring. If the tinted water gradually seeps into the bowl, there is a leak. (Do not leave the coloured water in the toilet bowl for an extended time period as it may discolour the bowl interior.)

Make sure all your water outlets are turned off then check your water meter. If it’s still running you likely have a leak. Alternatively read the meter just prior to, and immediately following a period of low minimal usage, such as when residents are sleeping. If the water meter indicates more than minimal consumption during this off-time, then there is a strong possibility that the system is leaking water. Simple tests like these as part of a general test and tune-up program can save thousands of dollars a year in operating costs. Maintenance is a key component in any water conservation program. Tank tests, flapper tests and bag tests for shower heads can be carried out in a matter of minutes and will pay for themselves in a matter of weeks.

When purchasing new products keep in mind the figures below and purchase the ones with the least water consuming tendencies. Average water consumption for: Toilet flush, 6 to 30 litres per flush, Showering, 6 to 20 litres per minute, Bathtub, 115 to 190 litres per full tub, Washing machine, 85 to 150 litres per cycle, Dishwasher, 26 to 56 litres per cycle, Kitchen faucet, 7.6 to 11.3 litres per minute, Bathroom faucet, 7.6 to 11.3 litres per minute.



The cost of water supply varies significantly from one municipality to another, and is increasing in most locations at a fairly rapid rate. Removing of old design toilets and replacing them with a new six-litre toilet will reduce water consumption by 50 percent or more. Low flow toilets new units range in cost from $150 to $400 and have an average payback period of three to six years. In some municipalities there are incentive programs to help offset this cost. Many municipalities charge for waste water treatment and disposal using a formula based on the amount of water purchased by each user. In these locations, you can save twice – by paying for less water and from the associated reduction in sewage treatment charges.


In Canada, the average person consumes about 326 litres of water per person per day. The shower is the second heaviest water user in the home. With a standard showerhead flow of 20 litres per minute, an average family of four, each taking a five-minute shower each day, would use about 2,800 litres of water per week. Replace that showerhead with one that uses only six to 10 litres per minute, and the usage would drop to about 1,300 litres per week (more than 50%). Low-flow showerheads range in price from about $15 to $75 or more. The typical payback period will depend on which unit is purchased and how the residents use water but should be in the range of six months to three years.


Faucet Aerators

The installation of faucet aerators on bathroom and kitchen faucet aerators can save up to 50 percent of the water usage and energy consumption (because of hot water use) from those devices. Also be sure to replace washer-type faucets with washer less faucets. Washer less faucet assemblies not only help reduce the amount of water that is wasted but lower on-going repair costs as well. As with Shower heads, the pay back period for this kind of replacement is very short.


Washing Machine

Choose a front loading washing machine. Not only does a front loading washing machine save water, it saves energy as well. It uses about 40% less water and about 50% less energy. Usually you can fit about 30% more clothes in a front load washer, it is easier on your clothes, meaning that clothes last longer, does a better job at removing water during the spin cycle which means less drying time and is much quieter. An ENERGY STAR front-loading clothes washer costs about $600 to $1,200. With average energy and water savings of $170 a year, it will pay for itself in payback period of 3.5 years.



Conduct a site design audit to identify opportunities to reduce storm water runoff through landscaping design, reduction of impervious surfaces and alternative storm water management systems. Check with your city codes then have your plumber re-route your gray water to trees and gardens rather than letting it run into the sewer line. Alternatively use harvested rain water for non-potable use (e.g. flushing toilets) or landscape irrigation. Direct rain spouts to vegetated areas. Landscape with native and drought-resistant plants and minimize turf. Raise the lawn mower blade to 2.5 to 3 inches. A lawn cut higher encourages grass roots to grow deeper and holds soil moisture better than a closely-clipped lawn. Pay attention to rain fall patterns and be sure not to water grass and plants when rain is available. When possible do not water the lawn on windy days. There’s too much evaporation it can waste up to 300 gallons in one watering. Use a rain gauge, or improvised device (empty tuna can), to track rainfall on your lawn. Then reduce your watering accordingly. Be sure to aerate your lawn at least once a year so water can reach the roots rather than run off the surface.

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