Water efficiency does pay, at least that’s what CUB volunteer Joseph Chang thinks.
Joseph, an environmental project engineer with a background in water and waste engineering, came to CUB in February. He was looking for a way to put his data analytics background to good use in an area of particular interest: water efficiency. “Water is a resource we take for granted,” he said, “look at all the stories of rivers drying up, areas going through droughts.”
At CUB, he dived into a volunteer research project to show Illinois consumers the effectiveness of water efficiency. First he gathered the rates the state’s biggest private water company, Illinois American Water, charges in the Chicago region. Then, with the help of the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense site, he found water usage estimates of household appliances for common tasks, such as brushing teeth, showering, flushing the toilet, and even watering the lawn.
Using that data, he built spreadsheets showing how efficiency could lower water bills for a hypothetical family of four. For example, Joseph’s research showed that watering a lawn once a week, rather than every other day, and using a sprinkler with the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense label, could cut monthly costs by about $60 to $100. Leaving the water on while brushing your teeth? That could cost you about $8 to $12 per month, Joseph found.
“If you really want to be serious about being more water efficient, go to the EPA website and check out the WaterSense page,” he advised. While the upfront price for a water-efficient appliance may be a bit higher, you will save money in the long run, he said.
If you, like Joseph, want to make a difference in the fight for efficiency and lower utility rates,
Joseph’s findings: A family of four could save a lot of money by practicing water efficiency.
|Efficiency Action||Monthly Savings (well water)||Monthly Savings (Lake Michigan Water)|
|Leaving the water off as you brush your teeth (4 minutes) twice a day.||$12.36||$7.80|
|Reducing your shower from 20 minutes to 10 minutes and using an efficient showerhead.||$17.56||$11.08|
|Reducing lawn watering from every other day, to once a week, and using an efficient sprinkler.||$100.11||$63.22|
|Using a low-flush toilet (8 visits per person in a day).||$1.80||$1.14|
Notes: *Illinois American water rates for well water and Lake Michigan water. Depending on the community, residents receive either lake or well water, and the rates are different for both. The water rates were in dollars per 100 gallons. To make his efficiency estimates, Joseph Change used the following data:
*Typical water usage for household appliances, from the Environmental Protection Agency, for a family of four. The usage was measured in gallons per unit of usage. For example, running faucet to brush your teeth was measured in gallons per minute, whereas flushing the toilet was measured in gallons per flush.*