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CONSUMER REPORTS -- This summer brings with it lots of hot weather, and in many parts of the country continued drought. Forty states now expect water shortages over the next decade.

The average family of four runs through about 400 gallons of water per day. Almost half of that water goes down the bathroom drain. The biggest culprit? Toilets. New efficiency standards went into effect in 1995, and if your toilets are older than that, Consumer Reports says they really should be replaced. They’re using about six gallons of water per flush.

Consumer Reports tests found many low-water toilets that perform very well, for example, the $350 St. Thomas Creations Richmond Eco 6123.218, 6125.028. It needs just 1.28 gallons of water per flush.

If you have an old showerhead, replace that, too. Many newer ones use half a gallon less per minute. Look for the Water Sense label.

Your washing machine is responsible for about 20 percent of the water usage in your home. The worst machines that Consumer Reports has tested need more than 25 gallons to do just one load. But there are some that use less than half that and do a terrific job cleaning. Two good choices are the Maytag MHW5100DW for 950 dollars and the Samsung A48H7400AP for 900 dollars. Both get top marks for efficiency and wash performance.

Consumer Reports also tests dishwashers for water efficiency. The appliances have improved so much that they use less water than washing your dishes by hand. Consider the Bosch 500 Series SHP65T55UC for 900 dollars. It uses just five gallons per load and the Kenmore 13473 for $530 from Sears that uses just four. Many of today’s dishwashers are so good at cleaning, Consumer Reports says don’t waste water rinsing your dishes before you load them.

Consumer Reports says you are probably wasting a lot of water and don’t even realize it. Ten percent of the water that leaves the average home is from leaks — 10,000 gallons per year. Consumer Reports recommends monitoring your water meter for 2 hours while everything is turned off. If the meter is moving, you’ve probably got leaks that are worth fixing. If you do find leaks, here are your next steps.

Consumer Reports: Water-saving appliances

With 40 states expecting water shortages over the next ten years, more people are looking for ways to be more efficient with water. Consumer Reports found some appliances that can really help.