As a new year starts, many New Jersey residents are taking on a variety of initiatives for a healthier and more environmentally sound lifestyle. New Jersey American Water, the largest water provider in the state, has compiled a list of easy-to-adopt, water-conscious New Year's resolutions for consumers who want the health benefits of being well hydrated while ensuring that high-quality drinking water will continue to be available for future generations. Resolution #1: Drink for Your Health The Cornell Medical Center estimates that as many as 3 out of 4 Americans are chronically dehydrated. Even mild dehydration can lead to fatigue and loss of concentration. Water flushes toxins from vital organs, carries nutrients to cells, and contributes to muscle health — decreasing joint and back pain, among other benefits. The Mayo Clinic cites research from The Institute of Medicine recommending that men consume roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of water and women consume 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of water per day. And tap water will help you meet that recommended amount more cheaply, safely and sustainably than bottled water (see Resolution #2). Resolution #2: Drink Sustainably Keep a reusable bottle of water near your desk, during workouts, or close at hand while home for frequent water breaks. Tap water is less expensive than bottled, at about a penny a gallon on average; often considered safer, since it is regulated by the EPA, with tests performed multiple times a day (while bottled water is less stringently regulated by the FDA); and more environmentally friendly, as 85% of recyclable plastic water bottles end up in the trash, according to the Container Recycling Institute, resulting in an average of 38 billion water bottles added to landfills every year. Resolution #3: Check for Leaks Millions of gallons of water are lost to leaks every year across the country. In fact, a single toilet leak can result in more than 100 gallons of water lost each week. To check for toilet leaks, put a few drops of food coloring in the tank, then watch for a few minutes. If the color shows up in the bowl, there's a leak that needs to be repaired. Also look for drips or stains underneath and behind appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines. Outdoors, check for damaged sprinkler system heads and system leaks. As a general test, check your water meter before and after a two-hour period in which no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak. Leak detection kits are available from American Water in a downloadable PDF file at http://www.amwater.com/Customer-Service/Wise-Water-Use/. Resolution #4: Use Water-Efficient Fixtures Advances in plumbing technology and design have resulted in faucets, showers and toilets that use significantly less water than standard models while still delivering the rinse, spray and flush that consumers expect. Look for the EPA's WaterSense label at leading retailers. If one in every 10 American homes upgraded a full bathroom with WaterSense labeled fixtures, combined savings would represent about 74 billion gallons of water per year!
Resolution #5: Insulate PipesTake steps to prevent water loss and water damage from frozen and burst pipes. Search for pipes that are not insulated or that pass through unheated spaces such as crawlspaces, basements or garages. Wrap them with pre-molded foam rubber sleeves or fiberglass insulation, both of which are available at hardware stores. Consider wrapping pipes with electric heating tape, but follow manufacturer's instructions carefully, and purchase heat tape with a built-in thermostat that only turns on heat when needed. Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations with caulking to keep cold wind from pipes. In addition, wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket. Nearly 15 percent of an average home-energy bill goes to heating water. New Jersey American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to approximately 2.5 million people. Founded in 1886, American Water is the largest publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater utility company. With headquarters in Voorhees, N.J., the company employs more than 7,000 dedicated professionals who provide drinking water, wastewater and other related services to approximately 15 million people in more than 30 states, as well as parts of Canada. More information can be found by visiting www.amwater.com.