SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— California’s drought has made people much more aware of the ways they use water in their homes. The number of free audits by water agencies is way up and KCBS’ Mike Sugerman had one done on his own home.

Sue Tensfeldt, a senior water inspector for San Francisco’s water department, is one of five inspectors on the job. She makes free house calls.

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The department does up to 20 audits a day. What the Sugerman’s found is that the department has some pretty specific information. Armed with his recent usage, Tensfeldt can tell how much water the household uses up to the minute.

She playfully asked what was going on back on March 30th. 170 gallons was used that day; twice the Sugerman household’s normal amount. Sugerman recalled his inlaws were visiting then and they took a lot of showers. Now the government knows that too.

Tensfeldt read Sugerman’s water meter and it wasn’t exactly good news. There had to be some sort of culprit.

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A thorough search took her to the washing machine in the garage.

“Front loaders are typically more efficient than top loaders,” Tensfeldt said. “This is great, a top loader is going to use three times as much water.”

The audit also found the dishwasher worked well. Tensfeldt noted that they are more efficient than washing dishes by hand, as long as they’re fully loaded.

On average, a dishwasher uses five to 10 gallons of water total, whereas if you wash by faucet, two and a half gallons of water go down the drain per minute.

Once the audit went into the bathroom things started to go down the toilet.
Then the audit went into the toilet.

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Tensfeldt found a leaking toilet in both bathrooms wasting water and money. She gave Sugerman new flappers and even offered to change the valves herself. She also gave him two, new low-flow shower valves, which his wife quickly rejected. He joked that she’s doing her part, but not to mess with her shower and that she’d cut back elsewhere to keep at their allotted 40 gallons a day.