Guelph is Canada’s largest community to be reliant on groundwater for its water supply. Groundwater is more limited than surface water, which makes water conservation a priority for us. In 2014 Guelph residents used on average 167 litres per day, which is significantly lower than the Canadian national average of 274 litres of water per person per day and the Ontario provincial average of 225 litres per person per day. Good job, Guelph!
Be water wise outside
During the spring and summer months water use increases as we spend more time outdoors watering lawns and gardens, filling swimming pools, and using water for other recreational activities. This peak in outdoor water use usually happens during hot, dry times of the year when we experience little rainfall. Under severe conditions this can cause water shortages. In order to ensure the sustainability of Guelph’s water supply, we must conserve our water resources and limit our seasonal increases in outdoor water use.
City of Guelph Outside Water Use Program
The City of Guelph’s Outdoor Water Use Program has three levels that affect residential outside water use. Program levels are triggered by Grand River Watershed Conditions Reporting through the Ontario Low Water Response Plan, as well as, diminished water storage and supply in the municipal drinking water system.
Get gardening naturally
The City’s Healthy Landscapes Assessment Program offers resources and community events to assist residents and local businesses establish low water use and natural pesticide-free outdoor environments. This program offers suggestions regarding native and drought tolerant plant types and detailed garden designs. Book a free consultation with a City of Guelph landscape advisor to visit your property to offer site-specific landscape advice. This program runs from May to August annually.
Rainwater harvesting is an excellent way to offset the amount of water you use outdoors for seasonal lawn and garden watering. Significant volumes of rainwater can be captured during rain showers by installing a rain barrel or above ground cistern barrels at the downspouts of your eavestroughs. Plants prefer rainwater because it is very soft and slightly warmer than the cold, hard water that flows out of the tap.
Rainwater can also be captured from your downspouts into a rain water garden!
Be water wise indoors
The three largest sources of water use in your home are: showers and baths, laundry and toilet flushing. Learn more about simple measures you can take to lower your indoor water use – saving water and money! Water conservation at home doesn’t have to be an inconvenience – it can be as simple as reducing the amount of water you waste on a daily basis. There are numerous water-efficient devices you can install in your home and small habitual changes you can adopt to help conserve water, protect the environment, and save you money on your utility bills.
Water use in your home
The three largest sources of water use in your home are showers and baths, toilet flushing and laundry use.
- Showers and baths – 35%
- Toilet flushing – 30%
- Laundry – 20%
- Kitchen and drinking – 10%
- Cleaning – 5%
Showers and baths
Although it is difficult to reduce the amount of water required to fill a bathtub for bathing, there are significant savings that can be realized through changes to your showering devices and the length of time you spend in the shower.
Install efficient showerheads
Older inefficient showerheads use an average of 15 litres of water per minute. By replacing your old showerhead with a new water efficient model (9.5 litres of water per minute or less), you can significantly reduce your water use. Based on a family of three and an average shower length of 7.6 minutes per day, a household can save 125 litres of water per day (or 45,771 litres per year) by replacing older showerheads with a new efficient 9.5 litres per minute model.
Spend less time in the shower
Shortening the amount of time you spend in the shower can also significantly reduce the amount of water you and your family use on a daily basis. Although the average Ontarian showers for approximately 7.6 minutes per day, it’s not uncommon for many of us to take a 10 or 15 minute shower with little consideration of the amount of water we use. Even with an efficient showerhead (9.5 litres per minute) a 15 minute shower can use 142.5 litres of water. By reducing your shower time to 5 minutes you can reduce your water usage to 47.5 litres – a savings of 95 litres of water per day. For a family of three this change in shower time could mean a daily savings of 285 litres per day or 104,025 litres per year – now that’s significant!
Even more savings
Book and eMERGE home tune-up and receive one-on-one advice on ways to save water and money within your home.
Retrofit your old water-guzzling toilets with new water-efficient ones so that you can drastically reduce your water use, eliminate wasteful water leakage and decrease the amount of money you spend on your water utility bills.
Older inefficient top loading washing machines use an average of 125 litres per cycle, whereas newer, efficient front loading machines can use as little as 55 litres per wash cycle. Replacing your old inefficient top loading washing machine with a new front loader can save you 28,000 litres of water per year and reduce your washer’s energy use by up to 50%.
Always wash full loads, or set your machine to the appropriate load size. Not only does this save water, it also saves energy—both of which save you money. Ask other members of your household if they have laundry items to help you make a full load.
How dirty do your jeans actually get? Or that hoodie that you wear with a t-shirt underneath? These don’t need to be washed every time you wear them. Get a few wears out of your clothes before you wash them.
There are two basic rules to follow:
- Shut off faucets whenever possible; and
- Make sure your faucets don’t drip or leak.
A faucet aerator reduces the flow of water from a faucet by adding air to the water to maintain the desired pressure coming out of your tap. Faucet aerators are inexpensive and can quickly pay for themselves through significant water savings.
Making small changes to your daily routine can also make a big difference on your water bill. Did you know that when you leave the tap running while shaving or brushing your teeth you are wasting significant amounts of water and increasing your water utility bills? Running the faucet for as little as 5 minutes during these tasks can waste up to 42 litres of water per day or 15,330 litres per year.
Based on water pressure, water can flow through a kitchen faucet at a rate of 12 litres of water per minute when fully open. Reducing the faucet flow rate in the kitchen below 2.2 gpm (8.3 Lpm) is easily accomplished by replacing the aerator, but the water savings may be somewhat limited. Many faucets used in the kitchen are used for things like filling pots and glasses, so regardless of the faucet flow rate, the volume of water needed to fill the pot or glass is the same. Reducing the flow rate of the kitchen faucet saves water and energy, but also results in longer wait times to fill fixed volumes.
A basic bathroom faucet aerator is inexpensive and one of the most cost-effective water efficiency measures. Bathroom faucets can have aerators that restrict flow to 5.7, 4.5, 3.8 or 1.9 litres per minute. Basic bathroom faucet aerators start at about $1 each and prices go up depending on the features you select. Because hot water is frequently drawn from faucets, reducing flows also reduces hot water use which means energy savings.
Fix the leaks
A leak in your home that drips once a second may not sound like a very significant problem. However, it can easily add up to as much as 16 bathtubs worth of wasted water in just one month. Be sure to replace worn washers and valve seats in household taps to keep water waste to a minimum.
Leaks are not always visible and obvious to homeowners. As older toilets age, and toilet components begin to degrade, it is common for toilets to leak significant volumes of water without anyone noticing.
More tips to conserve water
- Use a bucket and sponge to wash your car. You only need a light rinse with the hose to get rid of the soap.
- Make sure your hose is equipped with a shut-off nozzle.
- Sweep driveways and walkways with a broom instead of using water from the hose.
- Use a solar blanket to cover swimming pools when not in use. This reduces evaporation and helps keep your pool warm.
- Water toys or small containers filled with water are as effective as running through a sprinkler to keep children cool on a hot day.
- Use a bucket and squeegee to wash windows.
- Operate decorative fountains only when you are there to enjoy them.
- Make sure your fountains recirculate water.
- Position your sprinkler to avoid watering patios, driveways and walkways.
- Replacing old, inefficient fixtures and appliances
- Take shorter showers
- Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth! Simple enough, right?
- Test your toilets for leaks
- Get a free eMERGE home tune-up
- Wash full loads of laundry
- Fix those leaks!
- Look for Watersense labels
- Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator rather than running tap water until it is cool enough to drink
- Wash only full loads in the dishwasher. Do not pre-rinse unless necessary.
- Use the minimum amount of water needed for a bath.
- Fill kettles only to the depth required.
- Insulate your water pipes. You’ll get hot water faster.
- Try to do one thing each day that will result in saving water. You can make a difference!