Our World’s Water Resources Are in Crisis. Here’s What You Can Do About It
To say that our world’s water resources are in crisis is putting it mildly. The limited supply of freshwater for drinking, cooking, bathing, and sustaining life is becoming one of the scarcest resources.
While almost 70% of the earth is made up of water, clean water makes up only a tiny fraction of all water on the planet.
Let’s put this in perspective for you:
Out of the 70% of the water that is covering the earth surface, only 3% is considered freshwater. Furthermore, roughly 2.6% of this freshwater is unavailable for people.
Why is this so?
2.6% out of the 3% that is freshwater, is either trapped in polar ice caps/glaciers, stored in the atmosphere/soil, is highly polluted or is too far underneath the earth’s surface to be extracted.
That is why many parts of the world (including parts of America) are greatly suffering from a clean water shortage.
Think about it: with all the severe droughts happening in the world, not to mention our continually growing population, it only makes sense that competition for freshwater is on the rise.
According to the United Nations, water use has gone up more than twice the rate of our world’s population increases in the last century. By 2025, an estimated 1.8 billion people will live in areas suffering by water scarcity.
What are the main causes of water scarcity?
Water scarcity is a silly concept to many and a stark reality for others. If you find yourself being skeptical about water scarcity, here are some facts that will make you reconsider the effects of water scarcity:
Oil spillage and fecal matter contaminate oceans, making the water unfit for human consumption.
Overuse or wasted water sadly end up lost to the ground. Wasted water happens every day, instances like leaving your taps running while multitasking or doing other things contribute to wasted water.
When drought occurs, there is usually no rain for a long time. As a result, people do not have adequate water for domestic and industrial use.
Destruction of Water Catchment
Water catchment areas such as forests are being destroyed through deforestation to pave the way for human settlement.
Now that we know that our water supply is not an infinite resource, the challenge we now face is how to conserve the water we have efficiently:
Tankless Water Heaters
As discussions of water conservation rise, the cost of water is also on the rise.
Heating water is the second-highest energy expense in the home, with nearly 20% of average utility bills spent on your water heating system.
Here’s what uses the most water in your home:
- Every time you wash a load of clothing in the washing machine, you consume 7 gallons of water.
- You consume roughly 10 gallons of water for one shower.
- Dishwashers average six gallons per load.
- Two gallons per minute are used when you have the hot water running from a kitchen faucet.
- The bathroom faucet averages roughly ½ gallon of water per minute
This is a lot of (wasted) water.
For this reason, many people are making the switch from a traditional hot water tank to the point of use or on-demand electric tankless water heater.
Switching to a tankless water heater will not only save you significant amounts of money in the long run, but it will also conserve our limited water supply.
If you have not already invested in one, you can check out our tankless water heaters reviews to help you identify the right make and model for your needs.
Electric Tankless Water Heater Vs Tank
A traditional water heater can last anywhere from 8 to 10 years, whereas a tankless water heater has an average lifespan of about 25-30 years. They also don’t require the regular servicing that the conventional water heater does as there is no “tank” to maintain daily.
With a tankless water heater, you have hot water on demand whenever you need it. When you turn the faucet or the shower on, there is no waiting period for the water to warm up before you start using it.
In contrast, the conventional water heater may take several minutes to heat up once the water starts running, which not only wastes precious water, but it also increases your bills and water usage.
Another thing to consider is that with a conventional water heater, your hot water supply is usually limited to the number of gallons that the tank will hold. That means, once the hot water has been used or “runs out,” it may take several minutes for another tank of water to be heated.
Electric Tankless Water Heater Efficiency
Traditional water tanks are continually using energy to keep water hot regardless of if you are using it or not. This is a substantial contributing factor to your monthly utility bills.
With an electric tankless water heater, water is only heated as needed, saving valuable energy and reduced utility costs.
Fact: Homeowners who used tankless water heaters have experienced significant reductions in their utility bill, up to 34%, as a result of switching to the tankless option.
Electric Tankless Water Heater Cost
Savings will be immediate on your utility bills once the system is installed, but the upfront costs are slightly higher for the system itself.
This factor alone discourages people from switching to tankless. However, when you take in the fact that you may have to replace your water heater three times in the same timeframe that one tankless system will last, it doesn’t seem so costly.
Water Softeners Save you Monday & Water Too!
As we’ve learned in this article, not all water is equal — and you’ll know this if you live in an area where hard water is standard.
Hard water leads to a -build-up of limescale that has a hard, chalky, off-white appearance. It is visible in your taps, inside your coffee pot, and residue left on your skin.
If you live in an area with this type of water and you notice that your household bills keep piling up, the chances are that you will want to invest in a water softener system to treat it.
A water softening system works by removing excess amounts of calcium and magnesium in your home’s water, thereby softening the water.
There are many softening systems on the market, but at the end of the day, it’s about finding the one that will suit you, your family and your home’s unique needs.
Our best water softener reviews and buying guide will help make an educated decision.
Below are some common signs you may be dealing with a hard water problem:
- Limescale build-up
- Soap and shampoos will not lather
- Household water-using appliances are breaking down
- Corrosion of water-using appliances
- Dingy or foul-smelling laundry
- Film in bathtubs, sinks, and around faucets
- Water spots on dishes
That said, here are some ways in which a water softener will save you time, money, and water:
1. It Prevents Water Leakage
Water leakage happens when the limescale starts to build up around the valves of your appliances, leading to the valves inability to close. The -build-up of limescale typically occurs around the threaded pipe joints, resulting in water leakage.
A water softener can prevent water leakage by stopping the -build-up of limescale inside water pipes and around the valves of your appliances.
2. It Saves Energy
According to Carbon Trust, a 1mm layer of limescale causes a 7% increase in energy input to a boiler. In traditional water heaters, limescale creates an insulating layer which inhibits the transfer of heat to the water.
Limescale can lessen the effectiveness of your household appliances and also decrease their efficiency.
The harder these appliances have to work, the more energy they’ll use, and the higher your bills will be too.
3. Fewer Soap Cost
Soap is attracted to the minerals in hard water which makes it produce fewer suds and becomes less effective in hard water.
If you have hard water in your home, doing laundry, washing dishes, bathing, or washing your hair will become a challenge and installing a water softening system can significantly help with this.
4. Less Cleaning Materials
Limescale can -build-up in prominent places such as taps, sinks, kitchen utensils and tiles. Limescale in these places is unsightly and unsanitary. Extra cleaning materials have to be bought to remove limescale.
If your home has a water softener, you won’t need to spend additional money to clean up limescale.
5. Preserving the Quality of Your Fabrics
If you’re noticing that your clothes and bedsheets feel scratchy and are hard to wash because there is so much extra mineral substance in your water. The best way to get rid of this quality in your laundry is to get the best water softener.
6. No More Skyrocketing Bills
Hard water makes your pipes have to work harder to let flow through, which makes your water usage go up. Repairing your plumbing regularly is expensive and causes extra wear on the house.
7. Avoiding Damage to Glassware
Getting rid of hard water stains on glassware can be a serious pain. It can also make them more prone to breaking easily. Of course, using a water softener to eliminate hard water stains is likely the most effective course of action.
More Simple Ways to Save Water
When trying to conserve water resources at home, it’s can feel overwhelming to know where to start.
Every home faces different opportunities and challenges when it comes to reducing water use.
To help you with this, we will break these water conservation tips in the following sections: kitchen, bathroom, laundry, outdoors, and plumbing.
- When peeling or cleaning your veggies/fruit, use a bowl of water instead of running the tap.
- If you need warm water, it’s much faster to get it by turning on the hot water first and then adding in some cold water. This way is more effective than waiting around for the right water temperature.
- This may come off as a shock to you, but sink disposals need a lot of water to work correctly. To limit your garbage disposal usage, save food scraps and run the disposal only once to dispose of your waste.
- If you are boiling water or cooking food in a pot, use a tight-fitting lid so that it prevents water from boiling away. This way is actually better because you’ll boil water or cook your food even faster.
- Larger pans need more water for cooking, so be sure to use an appropriate pan size.
- Using a pressure cooker not only saves you time, but it also saves water.
- Save leftover veggie juices for soups or stews.
- Use liquids like syrups and juices from canned goods to save water.
- You should only run the dishwasher with a full load. If you’re washing dishes by hand, use one sink of soapy water and a second sink of hot water for rinsing.
- Keep water in a bottle in the fridge rather than running the tap for cold water.
- Refrigerate water in glass jugs with tight-fitting lids in case of an emergency
- Get used to taking 5-minute showers. Try using a Stop in Time® Shower Timer to keep track of time.
- Reduce the number of showers you take.
- Turn off the water while brushing teeth, shaving, and anything else that requires multitasking while standing in front of a faucet.
- Turn off the water while applying any soap or shampoo. You can install a shut-off valve to stop the flow without influencing the water temperature
- For emergencies, close the bathtub drain, so that shower water stays in the tub. You can reuse this water for flushing the toilet or watering outdoor plants.
- Only use your washer if you have a full load clothes or you can use a lower water setting.
- Replace old washers with ENERGY STAR® appliances that use between 18-25 gallons per load. Older machines use up to 40 gallons per load.
- Don’t wash clothes more often than necessary — Double-Check clothing before washing. Overly washing clothes not only wastes water, but it also increases wear on clothes.
- Motivate your kids to change into play clothes when they get home from school. This way, clothing can be worn several times before needing to be washed.
- Clothing and household items don’t have to be washed separately.
- If you’re using a garden hose to hose down your car, wash your car less often to save water.
- Alternatively, you can use a bucket with warm soapy water and then hose it down only as a final rinse.
- Or wash your car when it’s raining for a free rinse!
- When you’re not using your outdoor pool, be sure to cover it to prevent evaporation.
- Maintain your swimming pool filter to prevent having to change the water.
- Don’t use a hose to clean garage floors, sidewalks, or a driveway. Try a broom instead!
- Plan out your landscape and garden projects to minimize the need for water.
- Examine all piping and faucets for leaks.
- Install reduced-flow showerheads. Make sure they are rated to use less than 2.5 gallons per minute.
- If you’re going on vacation, turn off the water to eliminate the possibility of leaks while you are away.
- To avoid using up your treated water supply, you can reserve usage for kitchen, bathing, and laundry by installing a bypass line.
- Insulating all hot water pipes will reduce the incidents of hot water in the pipes getting cold over time and the need to be flushed.
- Make sure that everyone in your home understands the importance of always turning water faucets off right away and tightly.
- Replace older toilets with toilets that use less than 1.6 gallons per flush.
- Use a Leak Detection Tablet in your toilet tank to check for leaks. If the color is visible in the bowl, you have a leak and should make the necessary repairs.
- Reduce the water required for flushing. You can try using a Toilet Tank Bank® on your older toilets. It’s a globally recognized water-saving product that is effective, maintenance-free, and user-friendly
- Don’t use the toilet as trash disposal for bathroom waste.
With our population growing and such a small percent of the water fit for human consumption, it only makes sense that we preserve and conserve this precious resource.
Water conservation is not a job that is reserved for scientists, hydrologists, foresters, or city planners. Rather, it is up to each one of us to conserve water.
We can all make changes in our lifestyles to reduce our water usage. The trick here is making water conservation a way of life—not just something we think about once in a while.