Become a detective for Fix-A-Leak Week | SummitDaily.com

Become a detective for Fix-A-Leak Week

Eartha Steward
Special to the Daily

Dear Eartha,

I was recently browsing the internet and came across an ad for the EPA's Fix-A-Leak Week. Can you tell me more about this campaign?

– Avery, Frisco

Thank you for your question, Avery. This year, Fix-A-Leak Week takes place the week of March 20, and we are helping spread the word. Fix-A-Leak Week stems from the Environmental Protection Agency's WaterSense program and is celebrated annually in March to encourage and remind households to check for indoor and outdoor leaks.

According to the EPA, household leaks nationwide waste more than a trillion gallons of water each year. Wasting this much water is never good, especially considering there's been sustained population growth while the supply of natural water resources — such as the Colorado River — remain largely constant. But not to worry, I am here to show you checking for leaks will not only help save water but will save money and energy as well.

Saving water saves money

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A program created by the EPA, WaterSense, "seeks to protect the future of our nation's water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water with water-efficient products and services."

Products that feature the WaterSense label are 20 percent more water efficient than average products in their category and achieve water efficiency through improved technology. This means that, when you upgrade your appliances and fixtures to a certified WaterSense product, you're saving water automatically.

The EPA notes that the average family pays $1,100 per year in water costs, but that same family can save $350 by retrofitting with WaterSense-labeled fixtures and EnergyStar-qualified appliances. EnergyStar is quite similar to WaterSense, but aims at increasing the energy efficiency of appliances and fixtures. Don't worry about running to the nearest home improvement store to replace all your fixtures and appliances immediately. Just remember to look for the WaterSense label when broken or worn-out equipment needs replaced.

Finding leaks

In the meantime, seek out those pesky leaks that can waste up to 90 gallons of water per day. In fact, fixing leaks can save the average homeowner 10 percent on water bills. Here are a few common places to look:

• Bathroom: Turn on your showerhead and look for drips or stray sprays that can be stopped with tape.

• Kitchen: Check for pooling water under pipes and rust around joints and edges.

• Washing Machine: Check for pooling water that could indicate a supply-line break.

• Outside: If you have an in-ground irrigation system, check for broken sprinklers during the first use.

The EPA provides an excellent list containing quick checks you can do inside and outside of your home to help you spot leaks. This can be found on either the HC3 or EPA websites.

Saving water saves energy

Did you know if you let your faucet run for five minutes, you are using about as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 14 hours? Yes, the water-energy relationship is sneaky, and we don't always notice it.

It's safe to say that almost every appliance that runs water also uses a significant amount of energy — your toilet, washing machine and shower are all culprits. While this issue can be combated by purchasing WaterSense and EnergyStar-certified products, we can also make small changes in our daily lives that make a big difference.

Becoming aware of simple everyday water-wasters is a great way to begin the transformation toward a more efficient home. A few examples include using cold water in your washing machine, turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth and only running the dishwasher when completely full.

We all know these things are good to do, but in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life, we forget how important these little actions can be.

It is important to remind ourselves that water is not an unlimited resource. We must do our best individually and collectively to conserve this life-giving liquid where we can. Upgrading to water-efficient appliances, finding and fixing leaks and changing our own behaviors all aid in the conservation of water now and for future generations.

For more tips and information about Fix-A-Leak Week, go to HighCountryConservation.org/FixALeakWeek. Now, put your detective cap on and venture forth to track down leaks for Fix-A-Leak Week!

Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at eartha@highcountryconservation.org.