Most Americans have no idea how much water they use and typically underestimate it by half, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. California is in the midst of a severe drought, so it was appropriate that the journal article was brought to our attention by the Los Angeles Times. The journal study was based on a survey of 1,020 people. We in the plumbing industry talk about water conserving tactics all the time, so it's startling to read about how off-base most people are when asked about 17 common water-saving strategies.

The research was conducted by Shahseen Z. Attari of School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind.

The greatest water savings can be achieved by retrofitting a home's toilets and washing machine.

Yet when asked to name the single best thing Americans could do to conserve water, roughly 43% of the survey participants said that taking fewer, or shorter showers would save the most water.

The next most popular response -- roughly 17% of those surveyed -- said they would turn off the water while doing other activities, including brushing their teeth, wrote reporter Monte Morin in the L.A. Times story.

It could be worse: Attari also conducted research on energy-saving strategies and American's perceptions of energy consumption were even more incorrect.

What's your experience with your customers? Do they think that turning off the water when they brush their teeth is more effective than replacing their toilets? Let us know at CONTRACTOR's Plumbing Talk Forum.