[Ed. note:] This post continues our series of posts featuring easy, high-impact ideas and tips to help you get ready for Earth Day. Read the previous posts about saving water when you flush, greening your car and saving energy in your home and stay tuned for more!
The typical household in the developed world uses upwards of 260 gallons of water per day -- whoa! The good news is that by making a few quick changes, spending as little as $30 and replacing faucets and showers with low-flow fixtures can cut out about 45 of those gallons each day (that's about 18%); if you splurge on a low-flow toilet, you're down to almost half the water, saving lots of precious H2O but also saving you money on your water and electricity/gas bill (depending on how your water is heated). Here are a few specific ideas and products for saving some water (and some bucks) when you step into the shower.1) Low-flow showerheads like Bricor's shiny showerhead and this model from Gaiam (they used to be Real Goods: here's an updated link to purchase one) with a pause button cut back the flow to 1 gallon per minute (GPM), which, depending on your current shower, could save you two to four gallons each minute you're in the shower.
2) The Aqua Helix takes it a step further, squeezing out just 1/2 GPM.
3) TreeHugger TV offers some advice for increased shower efficiency: bring a friend, and make good use of the Tiara showerhead. Two heads are better than one...
4) If you're worried that cutting down the flow too low will adversely affect the water pressure, the Neco showerhead offers some middle ground: it pumps out 1.9 GPM and uses a "patented vacuum flow technology" that renders a higher pressure than other low-flow showers, giving a spray sensation roughly equivalent to most 2.5 GPM showerheads.
5) A shower timer is a helpful way to remind yourself not to dawdle too long under your new low-flow showerhead.
Bonus tip: don't forget to crank down your water heater to 120 degrees F to save even more on heating your water. For more ideas and info about using less water as you get ready for Earth Day, check out How to Green Your Water.