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RISMEDIA, March 20, 2010—(MCT)—Water is our planet’s most valuable resource. Providing enough clean water for every person will be one of the biggest challenges we face in the coming decades.

Americans use more water per person than any other country. On average, each one of us uses about 100 gallons of drinking water a day, and almost half of that is in the bathroom.

For many of us, the toilet is where we flush away most of our water. Toilets made before 1992 use more than 3 gallons of water with every flush. New, improved low-flow toilets use just 1.6 gallons of water per flush. Making the switch can save 4,000 gallons of water every year.

If you’re not quite ready to make the upgrade, there’s a free alternative. Make a water displacement device for a regular toilet tank using a plastic half-gallon jug. Put some gravel or sand in the bottom of the jug and fill it with water. Place the jug in the tank away from the flushing mechanism. This no-cost solution will save you a half-gallon of water every time you flush.

A low-flow showerhead is another easy way to conserve water and save money. These water-conserving devices use air to create water pressure, saving up to 3 gallons of water every minute. That’s 11,000 gallons of water a year for every person in your home who takes a daily 10-minute shower. Taking shorter showers will conserve even more.

To maximize your water conserving efforts, look for fixtures with the WaterSense logo. This certifies that the product meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s criteria for water efficiency.

Some low-flow fixtures include a built-in valve that will shut off the water while maintaining the water temperature—ideal for those who like to shave in the shower. When you install a low-flow showerhead you’ll be using less water, but don’t forget about the energy savings you’ll create by heating less water.

If you find yourself waiting more than a few seconds for hot water when you turn on the faucet, investing in a hot water recirculator will save you both water and time. These devices keep hot water circulating through the pipes in your home so it’s ready on demand.

The best pump system is one that has a temperature-controlled bypass valve and a timer on the pump that can be programmed to operate only during the times you need it most. A hot water recirculator ranges from $200 to $600 depending on the model and installation.

Even the simple act of turning off the water while you brush your teeth can save more than 500 gallons a year for every person in your home.

And adding a $2 aerator on every faucet can save thousands more gallons of water by reducing the flow of water to less than 2 gallons a minute.

Do your part and use less water in the bathroom. It’s easy and relatively inexpensive to make some simple changes that will conserve our most precious natural resource for tomorrow and beyond.

(c) 2010, The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.).

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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