Over 780 million people lack access to clean water. Every year, 6 to 8 million people die from water-related diseases.
Even here in America, where nearly all homes have adequate plumbing, drought and chemical pollution can still compromise access to clean water.
Our children’s future depends upon clean, fresh water. Yet water is a precious and ultra-limited resource.
We recently partnered with Clear Water Filtration to highlight ways that families can conserve water, reduce waste, and enjoy better water in the home. These tips include how to:
- Waste less water.
- Break your dependence on bottled water.
- Learn about your home’s water supply.
- Improve your home water.
1 | Waste less water at home.
The average American family uses more than 300 gallons of water per day at home.
Simply changing everyday behaviors can lead to water savings of 30.2 percent.
There are many steps we can all take to use less water. With the extreme drought in California, the Los Angeles Times put together this excellent list of 5 ways to save water in your house right now. Following these tips is the most efficient way to conserve water at home:
- Rethink your toilet
- Wash your clothes responsibly
- Shorten the shower
- Consider the sink
- Do the dishes differently
2 | As a family, pledge to quit drinking bottled water at home.
Bottled water is profoundly wasteful. It’s no cleaner or higher-quality than the water that comes out of the tap. (Indeed, most bottled water sold in the US is just tap water.)
More than 90 percent of US water systems meet all regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency. But the Food and Drug Administration regulates only 30 to 40 percent of the bottled water sold across state lines.
On average, tap water costs less than 1¢ per gallon. Bottled water costs between $1 – $8 per gallon.
Making and transporting the water bottles themselves is extremely wasteful. According to these bottled water facts,
- Making bottles to meet America’s demand for bottled water uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year. And that’s not even including the oil used for transportation.
- Last year, the average American used 167 disposable water bottles, but only recycled 38.3
- Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year. However, the US’s recycling rate for plastic is only 23 percent, which means 38 billion water bottles – more than $1 billion worth of plastic – are wasted each year
- The recommended eight glasses of water a day, at US tap rates, equals about $.49 per year; that same amount of bottled water is about $1,400.
It’s easy for most of us to quit using bottled water at home. If you don’t like the taste or smell of your home water, there are many simple ways to treat it. Faucet and carafe filters are a good place to start.
Consumer Reports gave the $30 Clear20 carafe its highest rating. The $32 Brita’s pitcher filter was also rated highly. Over a couple of months, buying these is still far cheaper than drinking bottled water at home.
An even better bet is a built-in home filter from a company such as our partners Clear Water Filtration. More on that below.
3 | Become better educated about your home water supply.
First, understand the difference between working water and drinking water.
Working water is used for washing, bathing, and cleaning and is frequently treated with a water softener or filtration system. It makes up 99 percent of the water used in the home.
Drinking water is used for drinking and cooking, and is typically treated with a reverse osmosis system or water filter. It makes up a surprisingly one percent of the water used in the home.
Second, know where your water comes from.
Is it supplied by a municipality (city water), a community of wells, or a private well?
Private well – Essentially, water that is in the ground is brought into your home and used for drinking, cooking, cleaning and bathing.If your home’s water is supplied by a private well, you are responsible for the water’s quality and water treatment.
Unless you install a water treatment system, nothing is between you and any water problems your well may have.
City water – America generally has excellent city water. This is true in municipalities big and small. (Without New York City’s tap water, we wouldn’t have its legendary pizza.)
However, city water (or water from a community water system) can still cause problems in your home. Tastes and odors from chlorine are the main complaint.
Third, understand your home’s water system.
Many people aren’t familiar with the equipment inside their home that brings water to their tap.
If you’re on a well, know where the pump is that brings water into your home. Go to the basement and look at the equipment that filters your water.
Know how your home water is heated – including the make and model of your home water heater.
If you’re in a city, know where the pipes are that bring water into your building, townhouse or apartment.
4 | Improve Your Home’s Water
Common Water Complaints
Tastes and Odors – These make drinking your water difficult and can affect the smell and tastes of food and drinks made with water. They can also make showering or bathing less than pleasant.
For city water, chlorine and chloramines are necessary for disinfecting water. However, they can also create an unpleasant taste and smell.
City water can also develop an algae smell and taste during hot weather months.
Chlorine and Chloramines can dry skin, hair, rubber seals and appliance parts. Staining of clothing, sinks, tubs and toilets, water-using appliances, and tableware can occur with city water.
Water treatment plants sometimes reduce the hardness of city water, but they don’t soften it completely.
Scale buildup – This is usually caused by hard water, can also happen. It’s unsightly, reduces the life and efficiency of fixtures, appliances and other items around your home.
Contaminants in Water – These can be anything from bacteria and viruses to dissolved solids, even pharmaceuticals. These can affect the taste, smell and healthful benefits of drinking water.
Cloudy Water – These can be caused by dissolved solids, tannins, sand and other things that affect its clarity. Your water may just look unsightly, or it could clog or damage water-using appliances and fixtures.
Clear Water Filtration offers an interactive tool to find solutions for a variety of residential water issues. Check it out here.
How To Check Your Tap Water Quality
It’s easy to learn about your water with an in-home water analysis. This is required to recommend the proper water treatment equipment and the right drinking water system for your home.
How water is used in the home often determines how the water is treated.
Whole house water treatment
Home water treatment happens in a few different ways. There are drinking water systems, water softening systems, water filtration systems, and disinfection systems.
Some homes simply need a reliable, efficient filter to make drinking water taste better. Others also may need a softening system or a disease-blocking disinfection system.
In Vermont and parts of New York, Clear Water Filtration can come to your home and perform a free water analysis. They can also suggest solutions for your home’s water issues.