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Est. 1871

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Drought Conditions – Efficient Water Usage Can Help While Saving on Monthly Utility Bills

It’s been a long, hot, dry summer in Missouri.  And you’re probably feeling the heat not only in the record-setting temperatures, but in that monthly utility bill.  One way to realize a little relief is through energy-efficient water use.  In addition to energy savings, you can help to conserve precious water during these drought conditions.

Did you know that using and wasting less hot water in your home can add up to big savings?  It’s true.

You may not be able to control the temperatures, but following these tips may give you more control of your next utility bill:

Fix Leaks

A running toilet can be a leading cause of a high water bill.  To test for that, put some food coloring in the tank.  If the color shows up in the bowl the toilet is leaking.  Toilet repair assistance can be found atwww.toiletology.com or by contacting a plumber.

Did you know that a leaky faucet that drips as little as one drop per second can cost as much as $1.00 per month?  You can significantly reduce hot water usage by simply repairing leaks in pipes and fixtures, including faucets and showerheads.

Low-Flow Fixtures

You can purchase some quality, low-flow fixtures for around $10 to $20 a piece and achieve water savings of 25 percent to 60 percent. Look for EPA’s WaterSense label if replacing showerheads, toilets, bathroom sink faucets, urinals or landscape irrigation controllers.

  • Showerheads

Federal regulations mandate that new showerhead flow rates can’t exceed more than 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) at a water pressure of 80 pounds per square inch (psi).  New faucet flow rates can’t exceed 2.5 gpm at 80 psi or 2.2 gpm at 60 psi.

Before 1992, most showerheads had flow rates of 5.5 gpm.  For maximum water efficiency, it’s recommended that you select a showerhead with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm.  Here’s a quick test to determine if you should replace a showerhead:

  • Place a bucket marked in gallon increments under your showerhead.
  • Turn on the shower at the normal water pressure you use.
  • Time how many seconds it takes to fill the bucket to the one-gallon mark.
  • If it takes less than 20 seconds to reach the one-gallon mark, you could benefit from a low-flow shower head.
  •  Faucets

The aerator – the screw-on tip of the faucet – ultimately determines the maximum flow rate of a faucet.  They are inexpensive to replace and can be one of the most cost-effective water conservation measures.  For maximum water efficiency, purchase aerators that have flow rates of no more than 1.0 gpm.  Some aerators even come with shut-off valves that allow you to stop the flow of water without affecting the temperature.

Dishwashers and Clothes Washers

The biggest cost of washing dishes and clothes comes from the energy required to heat the water.  You’ll significantly reduce your energy costs if you purchase and use an energy-efficient dishwasher and clothes washer

  • Dishwasher

It’s commonly assumed that washing dishes by hand saves hot water; however, washing dishes by hand several times a day can be more expensive than operating an energy-efficient dishwasher.  You can consume less energy with an energy-efficient dishwasher when properly used and operated with full loads.  To ensure your dishwasher is energy efficient, purchase one with an ENERGY STAR® label.

  • Clothes Washers

Inefficient clothes washers can cost three times as much to operate than energy-efficient ones.  Select a new machine that allows you to adjust the water temperature and levels for different loads.  Efficient clothes washers spin-dry clothes more effectively too, saving energy when drying as well.  Also, front-loading machines use less water and, consequently, less energy than top loaders.  New ENERGY STAR® qualified clothes washers use advanced technology to dramatically reduce water usage.  Full-sized washers that have earned the ENERGY STAR® use 10 to 20 gallons of water per load, as compared to 30-35 gallons used by a standard machine.

If you’re not in the market for new appliances, you can still reduce energy and water use with these no-cost tips:

  • Wait until you have full loads to run dishwashers and clothes washers or use the appropriate water level or load size selection.
  • Select the ‘air dry’ option on your dishwasher (if available).
  • Wash clothes in cold water.

Other Tips for Reducing Water Use

  • Turn off the faucet while shaving or brushing teeth.
  • Showers use less water than baths.
  • Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of letting the faucet run until the water is cool.
  • Thaw food in the refrigerator overnight instead of running hot water.
  • Add food wastes to the compost pile instead of using the garbage disposal.

Watering Lawns and Landscape

If you must water your lawn and landscape, follow guidelines from your water utility or supply district.  Here are some tips to water wisely:

  • Don’t overwater; learn plants’ water needs and water appropriately.  Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for advice.
  • The best time to water is in the early morning to reduce evaporation.
  • Save water from storms in rain barrels or cisterns.
  • Use water from alternative sources like dehumidifiers, baths, sinks or air conditioning condensers (do not use if it contains bleach, automatic dishwashing detergent or fabric softener).
  • Check your garden hose for leaks.
  • Sweep driveways, sidewalks and steps rather than hosing them off.

For more information and more tips, visitwww.energysavers.gov/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13050 and www.epa.gov/watersense.

 Before 1992, most showerheads had flow rates of 5.5 gpm.  For maximum water efficiency, it’s recommended that you select a showerhead with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm.  Here’s a quick test to determine if you should replace a showerhead:
  • Place a bucket marked in gallon increments under your showerhead.
  • Turn on the shower at the normal water pressure you use.
  • Time how many seconds it takes to fill the bucket to the one-gallon mark.
  • If it takes less than 20 seconds to reach the one-gallon mark, you could benefit from a low-flow shower head.
  •  Faucets

The aerator – the screw-on tip of the faucet – ultimately determines the maximum flow rate of a faucet.  They are inexpensive to replace and can be one of the most cost-effective water conservation measures.  For maximum water efficiency, purchase aerators that have flow rates of no more than 1.0 gpm.  Some aerators even come with shut-off valves that allow you to stop the flow of water without affecting the temperature.

Dishwashers and Clothes Washers

The biggest cost of washing dishes and clothes comes from the energy required to heat the water.  You’ll significantly reduce your energy costs if you purchase and use an energy-efficient dishwasher and clothes washer

  • Dishwasher

It’s commonly assumed that washing dishes by hand saves hot water; however, washing dishes by hand several times a day can be more expensive than operating an energy-efficient dishwasher.  You can consume less energy with an energy-efficient dishwasher when properly used and operated with full loads.  To ensure your dishwasher is energy efficient, purchase one with an ENERGY STAR® label.

  • Clothes Washers

 Inefficient clothes washers can cost three times as much to operate than energy-efficient ones.  Select a new machine that allows you to adjust the water temperature and levels for different loads.  


Efficient clothes washers spin-dry clothes more effectively too, saving energy when drying as well.  Also, front-loading machines use less water and, consequently, less energy than top loaders.  New ENERGY STAR® qualified clothes washers use advanced technology to dramatically reduce water usage.  Full-sized washers that have earned the ENERGY STAR® use 10 to 20 gallons of water per load, as compared to 30-35 gallons used by a standard machine.

If you’re not in the market for new appliances, you can still reduce energy and water use with these no-cost tips:

  • Wait until you have full loads to run dishwashers and clothes washers or use the appropriate water level or load size selection.
  • Select the ‘air dry’ option on your dishwasher (if available).
  • Wash clothes in cold water.

Other Tips for Reducing Water Use

  • Turn off the faucet while shaving or brushing teeth.
  • Showers use less water than baths.
  • Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of letting the faucet run until the water is cool.
  • Thaw food in the refrigerator overnight instead of running hot water.
  • Add food wastes to the compost pile instead of using the garbage disposal.

Watering Lawns and Landscape

If you must water your lawn and landscape, follow guidelines from your water utility or supply district.  Here are some tips to water wisely:

  • Don’t overwater; learn plants’ water needs and water appropriately.  Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for advice.
  • The best time to water is in the early morning to reduce evaporation.
  • Save water from storms in rain barrels or cisterns.
  • Use water from alternative sources like dehumidifiers, baths, sinks or air conditioning condensers (do not use if it contains bleach, automatic dishwashing detergent or fabric softener).
  • Check your garden hose for leaks.
  • Sweep driveways, sidewalks and steps rather than hosing them off.

For more information and more tips, visitwww.energysavers.gov/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13050 and www.epa.gov/watersense.