Save water at home

Table of Contents

11 Ways To Save Water At Home

Carol Crotta, Houzz Contributor

Americans have been blessed with a steady supply of clean water, and it’s a privilege we often take for granted. But with much of the western United States in a severe, years-long drought, attention is turning to water use — and abuse.

Although agriculture and business account for a large portion of U.S. water consumption, residential usage is substantial. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that the average American family of four uses about 400 gallons of water a day. Efficient appliances and fixtures can help, but a little care and common sense go a long way toward minimizing waste. Here are 11 tips for reducing water consumption at home.

How to Be More Water-Wise at Home

1. Turn off faucets. Start saving by breaking a bad habit: Never let faucet water run needlessly as you wash or rinse dishes, wash your hands or face, brush your teeth or shave. Bathroom faucets run at about 2 gallons of water a minute, according to the EPA. Turn off the tap while you brush your teeth and shave, and you can save hundreds of gallons a month.

Tip: Be sure to fix leaks. A slow drip from a leaking faucet can waste as much as 20 gallons of water a day. A leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons a day.

2. Use every drop. Learn to repurpose water. One easy way is to capture under your colander the potable water you use to rinse fruits and veggies, and deposit it in the garden. Do the same while you wait for your hot water to come in.

3. Double-dip dishes. Take a page from the past and make smart use of dual sinks. Instead of letting the water run while you wash dishes, fill one sink with hot, soapy water for washing, and the other with cool, clear water for rinsing. You’ll use half the water you otherwise would, according to the EPA. If your sink is a single model, use two large bowls for washing and rinsing.

4. Consider a smaller dishwasher. Today’s modern, efficient dishwashers can save a great deal of water. Scrape dishes instead of rinsing them before loading, and you’ll save up to 10 gallons a load.

You should run only full loads. If you generally have small loads to wash, consider buying a double-drawer model, such as the Fisher Paykel one shown here. The drawers, which use less than 2 gallons of water each, work independently, saving water, energy and detergent.

5. Buy a high-efficiency washer. The average American family washes about 300 loads of laundry each year. Clothes washing accounts for more than 20 percent of residential indoor water use.

As a rule, front-loading machines use less water than top-loading machines. But whether you’re shopping for a front- or top-loading washer, to save the most water, look for an Energy Star–certified machine. These machines use about 40 percent less water than regular washers. The key to their savings is that the tub does not get filled up; clothing is flipped and spun through streams of water and repeated high-pressure sprayings.

5 Easy Ways to Get a Greener Home

6. Go with low-flow. The bathroom is the site of the greatest indoor water use in the house. So it’s also a place where you can reap major water savings with some smart choices.

Toilets, for example, account for nearly 30 percent of an average home’s indoor water consumption. Older toilets use as much as 6 gallons per flush. But the newer, EPA WaterSense-certified toilets use just 1.28 to 1.6 gallons of water per flush. Dual-flush toilets use even less water.

Showering accounts for almost 17 percent of household indoor water use — 40 gallons a day for the average family of four. To save water here, replace a regular showerhead, which uses 2½ gallons a minute, with a WaterSense-certified showerhead, which uses 2 gallons a minute or less while offering the same or better shower performance.

7. Shorten your showers. Use a kitchen timer to time your showers. Aim for five minutes or less.

8. Cover up. Pool covers can be a pool owner’s best friend. Not only does a cover retain a heated pool’s temperature, but it reduces evaporation. The Department of Energy reports that a pool cover cuts the amount of replacement water needed by 30 to 50 percent.

9. Water by hand. Consider hand watering if you have a small garden area. Households that manually water with a hose typically use 33 percent less water outdoors than those that use an automatic irrigation system, according to the EPA.

Find a Fun New Watering Can to Use at Home

10. Get smart about irrigation. And speaking of watering the garden, residential landscape irrigation has come a long way. Consider investing in weather-based irrigation controllers that adjust to real weather conditions and provide water only when needed. Replace older mist-style sprinkler heads with today’s newer, and more efficient, rotator sprinkler heads, which shoot jets of waters at a slow rate to increase penetration and eliminate drift. Install new drip irrigation piping and soaker hoses for improved watering efficiency.

11. Capture rainwater. Find ways to save and store rainwater for use in the garden. Using a 55-gallon drum like this one, which catches roof water from gutters and downspouts, is one easy way. Remember to cover your barrels to keep mosquitoes at bay.

From the bucket flush to reusing pasta water, these novel tricks are a good addition to the tried-and-true tips.

California drought or no California drought, we should all treat our water as the precious resource that it is. It’s not infinite and those of it who have it in abundance often waste it heedlessly. The World Health Organization recommends two gallons per person daily to meet the requirements of most people under most conditions – and around 5 gallons per person daily to cover basic hygiene and food hygiene needs.

On average, an American resident uses about 100 gallons of water per day; while those in Europe use about 50 gallons of water daily. A resident of sub-Saharan Africa uses two to five gallons of water per day.

While reducing your water usage to five gallons a day would prove prohibitive for those of us accustomed to using more, there are plenty of smart ways to reduce your usage prodigiously. This is not a new topic for TreeHugger, we’ve offered these 10 tips in addition to these 5 swaps – but wait, there’s more! Consider the following:

1. Embrace the bucket flush

Well, not literally … but emotionally. Use a gallon of water, pour it into your toilet in one fell swoop, and behold the miracle of your toilet flushing on its own (depending on your toilet, it may take more than a gallon). And while it may not sound very First World, who cares? It’s an awesome trick to know and will come in handy for several of the following tips.

2. Take a bucket to the shower

When waiting for the shower water to warm up, collect the cold water that precedes the hot in a large bucket or waste can. That is valuable water! Depending on how quickly your water heats up, the collected water can be used for a number of bucket toilet flushes.

3. And while we’re at it: shower or bath?

A bath uses up to 70 gallons of water; a five-minute shower uses 10 to 25 gallons. That said, if you don’t drain your bath after, you can use that water to flush the toilet and water plants. Don’t be indulgent with your baths, but if you do, don’t let that good water go to waste.

4. Don’t pre-rinse your dishes

Many modern dishwashers do not require pre-rinsing of dishes – a good scrape should suffice. Read your manual and see if yours suggests the same.

5. Load your dishwasher properly

There are right ways and wrong ways to load your dishwasher; doing it incorrectly can lead to still-dirty dishes that require extra water for washing. For more, see: 7 common dishwasher-loading mistakes that may surprise you.

6. Compost rather than feeding the garbage disposal

In-sink garbage disposal contraptions require a lot of water to do their thing, and they also add solids to a septic tank which can lead to problems. Instead, use up your food scraps or add them to the compost bin.

7. Wash your produce in a tub

Place a basin or large pot in your sink, fill it, and wash your produce in it. Then place it in a colander to drain over the basin. Not only does it save a lot of water, but you can then use that water to flush the toilet or water plants. If you feel compelled, you can, alternatively, rinse produce in a colander as long as you do it over a bucket and collect the water.

8. Don’t dump the pot

After cooking pasta or anything else that requires boiling or steaming, save the water, allow it to cool, and use it for bucket flushing or watering the plants.

9. Beware the permanent press cycle

The permanent press cycle on most washing machines uses an extra five gallons of water for the additional rinse.

10. Turn off the tap

You’ve heard it before, turn off the water when brushing your teeth, but do you know just how much this saves? The average faucet releases two gallons of water per minute, you can save up to eight gallons of water every days by turning off the tap while you brush your teeth – if you brush for the recommended two minutes, that is. Likewise, for the gents, rinse your razor in a pool of water in a stoppered sink rather than under running water.

11. Fix leaky sinks and running toilets

Another obvious one, yet, also another one that is really important: A running toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water each day. At one drip per second, a faucet can leak 3,000 gallons in a year. Call the plumber already!

25 Ways to Conserve Water at Home

25 Ways to Conserve Water At Home

  1. Switch to a low-flow shower head. Switching your shower head to a low-flow can save you around 15 gallons of water during a ten minute shower. An 8 minute shower with a low-flow shower head uses about 12 gallons of water; 1.5 gallons per minute, versus 24-64 gallons with other shower heads.

  2. Turn off the faucet when you are brushing your teeth or shaving. Running a faucet flows about 2.2 gallons of water per minute. Turn off your faucet after you wet your toothbrush or razor, and leave it off until it’s time for your rinse.

  3. Turn off the faucet while you’re washing your hands. Use a squirt of soap, lather, and turn on the faucet to rinse. If you wash your hands for 15 seconds, 7 times a day, you’re using about 7.7 gallons of water. Use water only after you’re done with your lather and ready for your rinse!

  4. Upgrade to water conserving models of dishwashers and washing machines. There are energy & water conservation machines available that help to conserve water while they’re cleaning for you! This might be a bit pricey at first, but your utility bills WILL go down, and you will be helping the planet big time!

  5. Run the dishwasher or washing machine only when it’s full. Doing half loads, or small laundry loads add up to gallons of wasted water. Adjust washer machine setting if you must do a small load.

  6. Don’t have a dishwasher? Fill your sink up with warm soapy water instead of letting the faucet run the whole time that you are scrubbing. Scrap foods in your compost bin to decrease the amount of times you may need to change the water.

  7. Create a rain catcher. Harvesting rain water is a fantastic way to keep your plants hydrated without using your hose or sprinklers.

  8. Water plants early in the morning. It’s cooler in the mornings, which translates to using less water. The cooler the temperature, the less the water will evaporate.

  9. Fix your leaks! Fixing leaky faucets or running toilets can save gallons and gallons of water and hundreds of dollars per year.

  10. Frugal Flusher. Be a frugal flusher – if it’s yellow, let it mellow. Flushing your toilet just 5 times a day with a conventional toilet uses about 3.5-5 gallons per flush; if flushed 5 times a day, this equates to 17.5-25 gallons used! If you install a high-efficiency toilet, 5 flushes equates to only 6.4 gallons used.

  11. Take shorter showers. An easy way to cut down on water is to turn off the shower while soaping up and turning it back on to rinse. An 8 minute shower uses anywhere between 12-64 gallons of water depending on what type of shower head you are using. *cough cough* see number 1 *cough cough*

  12. Plant drought-resistant lawns & plants. They have drought-resistant grasses, as well as artificial grasses that are a great option for decreases your utility bill and the amount of water you use. Plant succulents and native plants to your area. It’s also smart to group plants together according to their watering needs – that way, you do not over water.

  13. Position your sprinklers. We’ve all walked by that one house or park where we get nailed with water from the sprinklers! Cement doesn’t grow taller with water. Position your sprinklers to water the things that need water to grow, yaknow, like your plants. It’s smart to check this positioning often, as sometimes external factors such as children or animals can move these out of place.

  14. Check for leaks. Checking leaks both inside and outside can dramatically save a lot of water, as well as money. If you’ve experienced a huge spike in your water bill, call a plumber and have them check your water lines for you.

  15. Use a shower bucket. While waiting for your hot water, plentiful water gets drained from the shower. Get a bucket or pail and stick it under the faucet until it’s your preferred temperature. You can use this water for watering plants, flushing the toilet, in your tea kettle, etc.

  16. Use a car wash that recycles water. If you wash your car at home, don’t leave the hose on; use buckets instead or install a hose nozzle

  17. Wash fruits & vegetables in a pan or pot of water instead of letting the water run from the faucet.

  18. Install gutters and downspouts. You can re-direct rain water runoff to trees & plants essentially addressing two water issues at once!; Watering your plants, and upcycling rain water!

  19. Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Garbage disposals use a lot of water. Compost vegetable food waste instead, and save gallons of water while reducing food waste.

  20. Keep a pitcher or water bottle of drinking water in the fridge. While waiting for the tap water to get cold for a fresh drink of water, collect the water in a pitcher or water bottle so it’s not running down the drain instead, this way, you have fresh cold drinking water while helping reduce water waste!

  21. Throw leftover ice cubes or ice chunks on a plant that needs watering.

  22. Soak pots & pans. Soak pots and pans with water instead of scraping and cleaning the food off while the water is running. Quick cleaning tip: Soak with water, add a few drops of dish soap, and put onto the stove with low heat; this will help clean stuck on food and debris easier with less water waste.

  23. Don’t use running water to de-thaw frozen foods! For both food safety and water conservation, defrost food in the refrigerator.

  24. Ever have cups of water laying around your house from guests, your kids, or significant others? Instead of throwing this water down the drain, pour in a tea kettle to boil and make tea or use it to water plants.

  25. Reuse your towels. When at home, or at a hotel, reuse your bath towels. Let them dry properly. Wash after every 4th or 5th use. Towels don’t need to be washed every time they’re used, you’re already clean when you come out of the shower!

Some other articles you might enjoy:

Why Are You Still Using Plastic In Your Kitchen?

Sources used:
Avonlakewater.org

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25 ways to save water

Next to air, water is the most important element for the preservation of life. Water is a finite commodity which, if not managed properly, will result in shortages in the near future. Water conservation can go a long way to help alleviate these impending shortages.

1. Check your toilet for leaks.

Put a few drops of food coloring in your toilet tank. If, without flushing, the coloring begins to appear in the bowl., you have a leak that may be wasting more than 100 gallons of water a day.

2. Stop using your toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket

Every cigarette butt or tissue you flush away also flushes away five to seven gallons of water.

3. Put a plastic bottle in your toilet tank

Put an inch or two of sand or pebbles in the bottom of a one liter bottle to weigh it down. Fill the rest of the bottle with water and put it in your toilet tank, safely away from the operating mechanism. In an average home, the bottle may save five gallons or more of water every day without harming the efficiency of the toilet. If your tank is big enough, you may even be able to put in two bottles.

4. Take shorter showers

A typical shower uses five to ten gallons of water a minute. Limit your showers to the time it takes to soap up, wash down and rise off.

5. Install water-saving shower heads or flow restrictors

Your hardware or plumbing supply store stocks inexpensive shower heads or flow restrictors that will cut your shower flow to about three gallons a minute instead of five to ten. They are easy to install, and your showers will still be cleansing and refreshing.

6. Take baths

A partially filled tub uses less water than all but the shortest showers.

7. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth

Before brushing, wet your brush and fill a glass for rinsing your mouth.

8. Turn off the water while shaving

Fill the bottom of the sink with a few inches of warm water in which to rinse your razor.

9. Check faucets and pipes for leaks

Even a small drip can waste 50 or more gallons of water a day.

10. Use your automatic dishwasher for full loads only

Every time you run your dishwasher, you use about 25 gallons of water.

11. Use your automatic washing machine only for full loads only

Your automatic washer uses 30 to 35 gallons per cycle.

12. Don’t let the faucet run while you clean vegetables

Rinse your vegetables instead in a bowl or sink full of clean water.

13. Keep a bottle of drinking water in the refrigerator

This puts a stop to the wasteful practice of running tap water to cool it for drinking.

14. If you wash dishes by hand, don’t leave the water running for rinsing

If you have two sinks, fill one with rinse water. If you have only one sink, first gather all your washed dishes in a dish rack, then rinse them quickly with a spray device or a pan of water.

15. Check faucets and pipes for leaks

Leaks waste water 24 hours a day, seven days a week. An inexpensive washer is usually enough to stop them.

16. Water your lawn only when it needs it

Watering on a regular schedule doesn’t allow for cool spells or rainfall which reduce the need for watering. Step on some grass. If it springs back up when you move your foot, it doesn’t need water.

17. Deep-soak your lawn

When you do water your lawn, water it long enough for water to seep down to the roots where it is needed. A light sprinkling that sits on the surface will simply evaporate and be wasted.

18. Water during the cool parts of the day

Early morning is better than dusk since it helps prevent the growth of fungus.

19. Don’t water the gutter

Position your sprinklers so that water lands on your lawn or garden, not in areas where it does no good. Also, avoid watering on windy days when much of your water may be carried off to the streets and sidewalks.

20. Plant drought-resistant trees and plants

Many beautiful trees and plants thrive without irrigation.

21. Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants.

Mulch slows the evaporation of moisture.

22. Use a broom to clean driveways, sidewalks and steps

Using a hose wastes hundreds and hundreds of gallons of water.

23. Don’t run the hose while washing your car

Soap down your car from a pail of soapy water. Use a hose only to rinse it off.

24. Tell your children not to play with the hose and sprinklers

Children love to play under a hose or sprinkler on a hot day. Unfortunately, this practice is extremely wasteful of precious water and should be discouraged.

25. Check for leaks in pipes, hoses faucets and couplings

Leaks outside the house are easier to ignore since they since they don’t mess up the floor or keep you awake at night. However, they can be even more wasteful than inside water leaks especially when they occur on your main water line.

Reduce Water Consumption at Home

Factsheet Block Body

Toilet User Modification (no Costs)

  • Do not use the toilet as a garbage can. Tissues and other items are often flushed away instead of going into appropriate disposal containers.
  • Reduce the number of times you flush your toilet with multiple uses before flushing. Unnecessary flushing of the toilet can waste up to 1,000 litres of water per year.
  • Do not place plastic bottles or bricks in a toilet tank to reduce the volume. This can interrupt the flushing mechanisms or flow of the water in the toilet, and can cause leaking.

Toilet Modification (Time or Money Required)

Low flow toilets and dual flush toilets save considerable amounts of water. Source: MOOSICORN RANCH (2010)

Determine if your toilet leaks. Put food colouring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the toilet bowl without flushing, you have a leak. Fixing it can save up to 1,000 gallons a month (WATER USE IT WISELY n.y.).

  • Replace your old toilet with a low flush toilet (6 litres per flush), a high efficiency model (4.8 litres per flush), or a dual model (3 or 6 litres per flush). Older toilet models can use 13 to 26 litres of water per flush. A family of four people can save up to 80,000 litres of water a year with a 6 litres per flush toilet, and even more with a high efficiency model. That is a 20% reduction in household consumption.
  • Replace your old toilet with a dry toilet, which does not use any water for flushing.
  • Replace your old toilet with a composting toilet, which recycles faeces.
  • Replumb your old toilet to use rainwater for flushing.
  • If you are unable to replace your water-guzzling toilet, retrofit your toilet with toilet displacement devices.

Water Tap User Changes

  • Use foaming soap. This allows users to only user water for rinsing instead of for soaping up and rinsing.

Water Tap Modifications

  • Install water tap aerators or more efficient fixtures.

Personal Washing User Modification

  • Take showers instead of having baths.
  • Take shorter showers. Shave your legs before taking a shower. Use running shower water to rinse off.
  • Use a bucket to collect water while waiting for the shower to get hot.
  • If taking a bath, only fill the tub with as much water as needed. Use less water for kids and pets.
  • Use the water after having a bath for your garden, or use it to wash your car. Check that soaps and detergents in the water will not harm garden plants (read more about wastewater reuse at home).

Shower Modifications

  • If your shower fills a one-gallon bucket in less than 20 seconds, replace the shower head with a water-efficient model. Water efficient models can use as little as 8 litres per minute compared to older models that use 15-20 litres. Aerated shower heads can increase the pressure and reduce water usage making the shower as pleasant as before.

Clothes Washing User Changes

  • Consider reusing greywater from the laundry on the garden for instance in a vertical garden or greywater tower.
  • Launder full loads when possible. Wash with a full load and you will save 10 litres of water each wash.
  • If you have less than a full load, use the water-level control on your washing machine and turn the water supply to your washer off when not in use in case a hose leaks or breaks.
  • Avoid washing clothes unnecessarily. Wash clothes to remove stains, not wrinkles.
  • Washing dark clothes in cold water saves both on water and energy while it helps your clothes to keep their colours (WATER USE IT WISELY n.y.).

Purchase a More Efficient Clothes Washer

  • Newer energy and water efficient washing machines can use up to 20% less water.
  • When buying new appliances, consider those that offer cycle and load size adjustments. They are more water and energy efficient.

Water Tap User Modifications

  • A running tap uses about 16 litres of water per minute.
  • Turn the tap off when brushing your teeth. Wet your brush and use a glass for rinsing.
  • Do not rinse your razor under a running tap. Filling the basin with a little warm water is as effective and less wasteful.
  • If you prefer cold drinking water, keep a pitcher of water in the fridge so every drop runs into you, not the drain.

Modify Water Taps

  • Identify and address leaks. Often, this is a good time to install lower flow aerated fixtures.
  • It is easier to notice leaks indoors, but don’t forget to check outdoor water taps, sprinklers and hoses for leaks (WATER USE IT WISELY n.y.).
  • The water bill or metering system can be a good way to check whether leaks have developed by comparing water usage to previous time periods.

Low Water Dishwashing Strategies

  • Only use the dishwasher when you have a full load or adjust the water-level control if the washer includes this option.
  • Use the rinse-hold setting on the dishwasher, if it has one, rather than rinsing dishes under the tap.
  • When washing dishes by hand, do not rinse them under a running tap. If you have two sinks, fill the second one with rinsing water. If you have only one sink, stack washed dishes in a dish rack and rinse them with a pan of hot water.
  • Use washing up liquid sparingly as this will reduce the amount of rinsing required when washing dishes by hand.
  • Capture excess water in a container while running the tap. This water can be used for your plants or pets.
  • Old dishwashers use up 60 litres of water per load. New dishwashers only use 10 to 20 litres and can be more effective in terms of water saving compared to hand washing.

Change Dish Washing Equipment

  • If you are considering the purchase of a new dishwasher, look for one that is water and energy efficient.

Preparing Food with Less Water

  • Avoid keeping water running when washing fruits and vegetables. Washing them in a bowl conserves water.
  • Thaw frozen fruits and meats in the refrigerator or microwave rather than in running water.
  • Compost kitchen wastes (organic matter) instead of using a sink garbage disposal system. Sink garbage disposal systems consume hundreds of litres of water each week to send matter down the drain, and increases the load for the water treatment facilities.
  • Catch running water whilst waiting for it to warm up. Use it to water plants, rinse dishes or wash fruit and vegetables.

Using Less Water Outside

Adapted from SAVE WATER ALLIANCE 2005; EARTH EASY n.y.; WATER GUIDE 2010

Mulch helps retain moisture in the soil. Drip irrigation lines direct water directly to where plants need it. Source: MENEZES (2008)

In summer, lawn watering and other outdoor uses can account for up to 50% of home water use. Studies show that as much as half of this outdoor use is wasteful.

  • Mulch your garden. Mulch is a layer of material spread on top of the soil to conserve moisture, discourage the growth of weeds and even out soil temperature- it can keep up to 70% more water in the soil.
  • Use drip irrigation systems instead of sprinklers.
  • Beware of using green lawn clippings – they can pack down quite hard and become a barrier stopping water getting to the plants. Better to put them into the compost pile and let them break down
  • Do not overuse hoses or sprinklers in hot weather. A sprinkler can use as much water in an hour as a family of four will use in a day. Your lawn only really needs watering once a week and it is better to water in the morning when the temperature is lower and evaporation is less.

For further information regarding recycling and reusing water, check reuse and recharge tools.

Install Rain Barrels to Collect Rainwater for Reuse

  • Using collected rainwater can reduce your water bills to a great extent.
  • Collecting rainwater allows you to be prepared for times of low rainfall, so you can still maintain your garden, especially if there are water restrictions in your area.
  • It reduces the load on stormwater systems because roof runoff is not flushed into the drains.
  • Using rainwater reduces the need to build more water storage dams, which may have to be situated in environmentally sensitive areas.

For further information regarding rainwater recycling, check also urban and rural roof top rainwater harvesting or stormwater management. Almost half of water produced at the household level is washwater, also called greywater. Read more about greywater reuse and how it can serve to fertilise plants and crops in the reuse and recharge section. Learn more about wastewater and greywater reuse at home here.

While the summer brings with it the promise of warmer weather and longer days, it’s also the time of year when households in some areas of the UK are urged to reduce their water use. With the Environment Agency warning that water shortages could be the norm by 2050, now is a good time to look at how we can cut down on the amount of water we use and waste around the house.

If you’re on a water meter, reducing your water usage could also save you money. Research from NimbleFins shows households with a water metre could spend over £200 this summer on watering their gardens.

To help save the planet and keep your water bill down, we’ve rounded up ten tips to help you take the first steps to run a more water efficient home.

Related Story

We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.

Tip 1

DON’T leave the tap running when you wash fruit and vegetables. A running tap pumps out between six and 12 litres of water every minute. Fill the sink or a washing-up bowl with just enough water to do the job, then use what’s left to water the garden.

Tip 2

DON’T wait for the tap to run cold each time you fill a glass with water. This wastes more than 10 litres of water a day, according to Waterwise. Put a bottle of tap water in the fridge, instead, to enjoy cool drinks all day.

Tip 3

DO place a clean washing-up bowl in the sink to catch the excess H²O as you wait for water from the hot tap to reach the right temperature. Use it warm for cleaning tasks or for pre-soaking laundry.

Tip 4

DO use water from the reservoir of your condenser tumble dryer to mop floors instead of pouring it down the plughole.

Related Story

Tip 5

DO steam vegetables instead of boiling them. This can save water and help preserve more of the nutrients in your food. Microwaving would use even less water than steaming.

Tip 6

DON’T automatically use the large flush option on your dual-flush. Simply flushing the loo accounts for one-fifth of UK households’ water use. Without going into too much detail, use the small flush button whenever it’s appropriate. Fitting a water displacement device in the cistern of older toilets can also help reduce water use. Many water companies provide and even fit these devices free of charge. Contact your water supplier for details.

Tip 7

DO use the dishwasher instead of washing up by hand. A fully-loaded, modern dishwasher is likely to use less water than washing up in the sink, according to Friends of the Earth.

Tip 8

DO regularly check washing machine and dishwasher hoses for leaks and get them fixed quickly. The same applies to dripping taps. According to Thames Water, a dripping tap can waste 9 litres of water a day, boosting the cost of your water bill unnecessarily.

Tip 9

DON’T linger in the shower. Thames Water recommends taking 4-minute showers. Not only does this save water in the summer months, it also saves money. A family of four can save £45 on metered water bills a year by cutting shower time down to 4 minutes each.

Related Story

Tip 10

DO water your garden in the evening. Watering during the day — when the sun is blazing — only makes evaporation occur more quickly. Instead, make your water go further by waiting for the sun to set.

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I don’t know why I’m quite so obsessed with water use. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in Brighton, and swam in the sea from an early age. Or possibly because I was a windsurfing instructor for a few years – which certainly teaches you to respect water and the sea. If you’ve got a water meter, you can dramatically reduce your consumption of this precious resource without much impact on your quality of life at home.

Numerous counties across the south and east of the UK are have now been hit with a hosepipe ban. We’re going to need to learn how to reduce our water use over the next few months, maybe the next few years – and perhaps over our entire lives.

The 150 litres of ‘drinking quality’ water used by an average UK adult per day

To begin with, the average UK adult uses 150 litres of “drinking quality” water per day. To the left is a picture of what all that liquid looks like. Scary. But what can you do, without a major overhaul of your home?

Toilets are a massive waste. With every flush most toilets use 9 litres of drinking water. Some of us might have tried the old water hippo or brick and, yes, you can save a litre of two, but for me a far greater saver is the Interflush kit, which attaches to your old siphon toilet and allows you to control the amount of water it uses as you hold down the handle. Simple to fit and the payback is a few months.

But toilets aren’t that sexy, are they? So how about showers? Of course, I could go on about how we should all be sharing them and how steamy it can all get but, let’s be realistic, it’s not really a viable long-term water-saving solution. The simplest way to reduce water in a shower is to use a shower timer. There are plenty to choose from and they don’t really need to be anything more complicated than a waterproof egg-timer. When the average shower uses 10 litres of water per minute and lasts for seven minutes, cutting this down to four minutes is pretty easy and will save 30 glorious litres of the wet stuff.

You could go one step further, and fit a low-flow aerating shower head like this one from Mira or this from Camel, both of which simply screw on to your old shower hose. For around £30, this will cut water use from 10 litres down to around five or six, depending on which model you go for, and your water pressure. And remember, you pay for hot water three times: once to buy it, once to heat it and once to get rid of it. So every litre saved in the shower saves the cost of heating it too. With no noticeable reduction of water use, it’s a simple winner.

But if you’re a bath person and don’t like the idea of sharing water with your partner or family (sitting around in other people’s gunky soap and dirt is considerably less sexy than sharing a shower, even if you do love them) you could fit a water-diverting valve to the outside bit of your waste pipe. This will allow you to divert water from the bath to a hosepipe, to be used in the garden for watering plants. Simple but ingenious grey-water recycling.

A relatively small amount of water is actually used in cooking and drinking, but washing up can be pretty bad. A simple solution is to use a washing-up bowl – or you could go one step further and fit a foot-pedal-operated tap like this one from IZI flow. Quite simply, it means you don’t need to turn the taps on and off to rinse, and as soon as you step away from the sink the tap goes off. Brilliant.

All these products are easy to fit and use, and have helped cut water use in my own home to 100 litres of water per person per day – a reduction of over 30% (saving me extra in hot water costs as well). Perhaps it’s time to for you to start thinking long-term too, and put that Easter DIY to good use. You even have an excuse to share that once-in-a-blue-moon shower.

• Oliver Heath will be giving talks at the 02 Centre, Finchley Road, London, on Monday 9 April from 1.30pm about how to mix interior design with sustainability.

50+ Tips for Reducing Your Water Usage Around Your Home — Indoors and Out!

Water. What comes to mind when you hear this word? Do you imagine a cool drink to quench your thirst? A warm, relaxing bath or shower, or maybe a dip in your pool on a hot summer afternoon? If you stop to think about it, you’ll realize just how important water is to every aspect of your life.

But have you ever stopped to consider what you’d do if your fresh, clean water wasn’t as close as your faucet or outdoor spigot? Most people probably haven’t. Did you know that the average family of four uses up to 100,000 gallons of water per year? Your family can help reduce water usage at home by making some simple adjustments and changing your water use habits.

Reducing water consumption at home helps ensure this life-sustaining substance is available now and for future generations. For this reason, you need to understand why it’s important to reduce water usage indoors and out, as well as the benefits of practicing water conservation methods at home.

Why Worry About Water Conservation?

In countries like the United States, conserving water may not be a top priority for many people. But you should never take a resource like water for granted. Even though you have safe clean water that seems to magically appear when you turn on the faucet, if you don’t think about the future, you could be wasting precious water for upcoming generations.

At this time, water seems in endless supply, but as the population grows, so does our demand for water. Farmers need more water for crops and livestock, and a growing population needs clean water to drink and use for bathing. When you consider the increasing needs and the importance of water, you can better understand why it is important to begin conserving now to ensure water isn’t scarce in the future.

You may be surprised by the amount of water your family uses when you stop to think about it. What’s your family’s water footprint? It’s determined by the amount of water your family uses, among other factors:

  • Tap water you use directly
  • Water used to produce the food you eat
  • Appliances and products that use water
  • Water used for recreation
  • Water you use when you recycle
  • Energy you consume

You may not drink, see or even feel all the water you use, but it all adds up to determine your water footprint. You can save water by recycling. When you choose to recycle products, this action helps reduce the materials from virgin sources, which reduces the need to produce and process new materials. This means less water and other resources are used in the manufacturing process to produce products for consumers.

Along with saving you money on your water bill, there are other beneficial reasons to conserve water:

  • You and every living thing on earth need water to live. Without it, you would die within a few days.
  • Water conservation helps conserve energy.
  • Conserving helps preserve this precious resource for the next generation and beyond.

Since water is vital to our existence, it’s important to do your part to conserve water. Some tasks are simple, while other may be more complex and require help. Either way, these tips can get you started on reducing your water footprint.

Simple Tips to Reducing Water Usage Indoors

The average household uses about 260 gallons of water per day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. You can reduce the daily water usage in your home by taking a few simple steps in each room.

The kitchen is a place of high water usage for most families. In this one room, you wash dishes by hand or have a dishwasher. You also use water when cooking, cleaning, and drinking. Here’s how to save water in the kitchen:

  • Place a gallon jug of water in your refrigerator for drinking; that way, you don’t have to let water run to get a cool drink.
  • Only run the dishwasher when it’s full.
  • Have a basin of soapy water for washing and clear water for rinsing when washing dishes by hand.
  • Consider starting a compost heap outside. Then, you can use the garbage disposal less often.
  • Plan ahead and defrost food in the refrigerator instead of running it under hot water.
  • Choose the right size of pan for boiling water and cooking; larger pans use more water.
  • If you drop ice on the floor, place it in your plant pots to water plants.
  • While waiting for water to warm up, catch running tap water in a container and use it to water your plants or wash vegetables.
  • Don’t wash fruits and vegetables under running tap water, wash them in a bowl of water and use that water for thirsty plants.
  • When shopping for a new dishwasher, look for energy efficient options.
  • Don’t pre-rinse dishes before placing them in the dishwasher.
  • Soak pots and pans instead of running tap water over them to loosen stuck on foods.

The bathroom is also a source of high water usage. Flushing the toilet alone can use 20 gallons of water per day, according to National Geographic’s water conservation tips. The shower is another big water user in your bathroom, using up to 80 gallons of water for an 8 minute shower.

Here are some tips to reducing water consumption in the bathroom:

  • Keep showers under five minutes.
  • Turn off water while washing your hair or brushing your teeth.
  • Turn water off while washing your hands or use foaming hand soap, so you only have to use water to rinse.
  • For reducing water usage in toilets, upgrade older toilets with newer water-saving models.
  • Install water-saving shower heads.
  • Throw tissues in the trash instead of flushing them down the toilet.
  • Consider installing dual flush toilets; they use less water to flush liquid wastes.
  • Choose a shower over a bath; it takes up to 70 gallons of water to fill the tub.
  • Install float boosters in your toilet tank.
  • Fill the sink with water to rinse your razor as you shave instead of holding it under running water.

In the Laundry Room

A little over 20 percent of your home water is used washing clothes and other linens. You can reduce this amount with a few simple tips.

Here are some ways to reduce your water consumption in the laundry room:

  • Only wash full loads or adjust your water level for each size load of laundry.
  • Wash dark-colored clothes in cold water.
  • Consider upgrading to a high efficiency washing machine.
  • Don’t wash just one garment in the washing machine; instead, wash it by hand and hang it to dry.
  • Hang up the towel you dry off with after a shower and reuse it next time.

Simple Tips to Reducing Water Usage Outdoors

Over half of your home water use and waste goes to caring for your lawn and garden. You can have a nice lawn and garden, while reducing your home water consumption by following a few simple tips.

Here’s how to save and still have a healthy lawn:

  • Use fertilizer sparingly; the more fertilizer you use, the more water the lawn needs.
  • Aerate you lawn a few times a year so it more readily absorbs rainwater.
  • Leave lawn clippings on your lawn to help conserve moisture and keep your grass cool.
  • Keep your lawn as weed-free as possible; weeds compete with grass for water.
  • Keep your grass height at about 2 inches tall; taller grass shades roots and holds moisture better than shorter grass. This can save you up to 500 gallons of water per month.
  • Allow your grass to go dormant in winter, and it’ll get the moisture it needs from normal rainfall.

Here are some ways to reduce water usage and still have healthy outdoor plants:

  • Prune plants properly, and they’ll use water more efficiently.
  • Harvest rainwater in a barrel and use it to water outdoor plants when needed.
  • Water your garden early in the morning while it’s cool outside to minimize water evaporation.
  • Consider using drip irrigation around trees and shrubs so water goes straight to the root zone.

Here are some tips for enjoying your swimming pool while conserving water:

  • Don’t overfill the pool. Less water in the pool means less water splashing out.
  • Use a pool cover to reduce water loss through evaporation.

More Simple Tips for Conserving Water Outdoors

Little things you do can add up to a lot of water waste, so here are a few more useful tips to conserve water outdoors:

  • Clean patios, sidewalks, or decks with a broom instead of a blast from the water hose.
  • Use old water from your fish tank to water outdoor plants.
  • Give your pets a bath outdoors in an area where the lawn could use some water.
  • Avoid buying children’s outdoor toys that require a steady flow of water.
  • Group plants with the same watering needs together in your garden.
  • Use mulch around plants to help conserve moisture so they need supplemental water less often.
  • Don’t prune lower branches and leaves off trees and shrubs; this helps keep the area around the plants shaded to conserve moisture.

The tips covered so far are simple things you and your family can do, but you can also enlist the help of a plumber or landscaper to ensure more complex issues that lead to water waste are taken care of.

How a Plumber Can Help?

Leaks are a common cause of water waste in homes. Whether it’s a small drip under the sink or a leaky toilet, every little drip can add up to a lot of wasted water. Fixing leaks can save up to 4 gallons of water per day. If just one faucet in your home is dripping one drop of water per second, you are wasted up to 3,000 gallons annually, according to the EPA.

The difficulty with detecting leaks is that you may not know you have one unless your water bill starts to rise. If you have leaks, call a plumbing company, like Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Greater Syracuse, to inspect your home’s plumbing system and fix them.

The EPA recommends using water-saving appliances, toilets, showerheads, and water heaters. Your plumber can make sure these products are installed properly so they do work efficiently.

Here are some other ways a plumber can help with more complex water conservation methods for your home:

  • Replace old plumbing and upgrade it so it works properly and doesn’t leak.
  • Install insulation around your pipes to prevent freezing, which can lead to cracks or burst pipes that leak.
  • Install sprinkler systems and drip irrigation that allows you to water your landscape more efficiently.
  • Help with installation of timers for irrigation systems.
  • Reroute grey water from your washing machine so you can use it to water non-edible plants and trees; grey water usually runs into the sewer system.
  • Install an instant water heater near the kitchen so you don’t have to let the faucet run to get the water warm.
  • Install a water meter so you can see just how much water your family is using.
  • Answer questions you may have about conserving water in your home.

How Can a Landscaper Help?

If you don’t have a green thumb when it comes to gardening, you can benefit from talking to your local nursery or landscaper about plants that are well adapted to your area. Experts can help educate you about how to water your landscape plants efficiently and choose low-water plants when planning new landscape projects.

Choosing plants wisely can help you reduce the amount of water you use to keep your landscape healthy. If you mix plants that require little or no irrigation with those that require regular moisture, you’ll be wasting water by giving too much to the undemanding plants, and maybe even harming them.

To conserve water and make sure you don’t over-water plants, group plants with similar watering needs into different hydrozones. Using hydrozones simplifies your irrigation and makes sure all your plants only get the water they need.

A nursery or landscaper can help you choose plants native to your area, so you can create a garden that thrives on annual rainfall for your region.

Xeriscaping is also a good method of conserving water. It’s the practice of landscaping to reduce or eliminate water use. This means your garden will need little or no water other than what your climate provides. To be successful, xeriscaping involves planning, adding in soil amendments, mulching, and choosing drought tolerant plants for your garden.

Xeriscaping offers several advantages:

  • Uses up to two-thirds less water than regular gardens.
  • Requires less maintenance.
  • Costs less to maintain.
  • Reduces waste and pollution.

Xeriscaping may also include reducing the size of your lawn area and retaining only enough grass for your needs. You can replace the other areas with landscape plants that require less water, including ground covers, perennials, shrubs, and trees that have low-water needs.

You can also improve the moisture retention of your soil by adding in organic matter. When planning a low-water use garden, you can apply compost, shredded leaves, aged manure, bark, seed hulls, or other organic materials over the soil and around plants to aid in water retention.

You can do part to conserve water, even if you only take on the simple tasks. You can start small and work your way up to making your entire home, indoors and out, less wasteful when it comes to water use. Your plumber is a good source to turn to in the beginning. A licensed plumber can give you advice and start by inspecting your home’s current plumbing.

You can contact Mr. Rooter Plumbing and schedule an appointment for a checkup and diagnosis of your plumbing system. If necessary, a licensed plumber can begin upgrades and installation to make your home more water friendly.

Mr. Rooter Plumbing offers a variety of residential services:

  • Water heater services
  • Sewer and drain services
  • Bathroom plumbing
  • Kitchen plumbing
  • Laundry room plumbing
  • Septic system services
  • Pump systems

Mr. Rooter’s licensed plumbers are certified by Onondaga County for plumbing leak detection or any plumbing related project and can offer homeowners advice about water conservation. A licensed plumber can help you save on your utility bills, while also helping the environment.

Upgrading and installing new plumbing may be costly at first, but it is an investment. The cost of a small leak or drip can also add up, so it’s a good idea to have your plumbing checked, especially if you noticed your water bill creeping up over the last few months or so.

Upgrading to new appliances, toilets, and water heaters can also be a big investment, but they do pay off in the long run. You can ask your plumber more about choosing appliances that use less water.

Together, you and your plumber can discuss ways you can make changes in your home to save water. Discuss what steps you can take that are within your budget. These simple steps begin good habits.

It All Starts With You

The answer to the question “how can I save water at home?” is quite simple. Each time you decide to follow one of the many simple steps of water conservation, you save water for future generations. Don’t doubt that your water conservation makes a difference because it does. And if you pass these tips on to your children and teach them the importance of saving water for future generations, it is more likely that they will carry on these good habits and pass them along as well.

Contact Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Greater Syracuse to learn more about how you and your family can begin conserving life-sustaining water for future generations.

A Comprehensive Guide to Reducing Household Water Use

Since people in developed countries use much more water than they actually need, the question of how to reduce water use is the talk of the day. There are many things you can do to lower your water bill, and here is a detailed guide on how to do it. Take a look at ten brilliant ways to reduce your household water bill.

For many of us, clean water is so plentiful and readily available that we rarely, if ever, pause to consider what life would be like without it.
~ Marcus Samuelsson

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Change your behavior and get better equipment

If you install devices that help you measure and monitor water consumption you are more likely to adjust your behavior and attitudes towards water (like turning the tap off when brushing your teeth). Since people only tend to change when they personally benefit from it, this way you will be able to actually see the money you’re saving which will make you stay on the right path.

It’s also important to install energy and water efficient devices straight away, if you are in the process of building your house. That’s the cheapest time for you to do so and it will save you a lot of money in the long run. The best way to encourage people to invest in such water-saving fixtures and regulate their behavior is if they really save up some money in the end.

Change your toilet and the way you use it

The easiest and cheapest way to save water is to modify your behavior. Never flush tissues and cotton swabs down your toilet as it is not a garbage can. If you do so, you’re wasting up to 1.000 liters of water per year, plus you’re facing the risk of clogging and that’s an additional expense.

You can also modify your toilet. Standard old toilet models use from 13 up to 26 liters of water per flush, while new low flush models use only 6. There are even high efficiency models that use 5 liters and dual flush systems that have two settings, 3 and 6 liter per flush. This way only one person can save almost 20.000 liters per year or 20% of the overall household water consumption. There are other changes you can make, like adjusting your toilet to flush rainwater, installing a dry toilet that doesn’t use water at all or a composting toilet that makes compost out of feces.

Leaks are another common problem. If your toilet is leaking you’re wasting almost 4.000 liters a month! Since leaks can sometimes be practically invisible, you can test your toilet by putting food coloring into the tank. If color starts showing in your bowl without you flushing first, you’ll know you have a leak. Deal with the problem as soon as possible.

Change taps and modify the way you use them

In order to save water this way, you can get a foaming soap instead of a regular bar. Foaming soap doesn’t require any liquid for soaping up, only for rinsing. Close the tap while brushing your teeth and use a glass for rinsing. Rinse your shaving razor in a glass, not under a running tap. Another thing you can do is install tap aerators that lower the consumption of water or install more efficient fixtures. Also check and address all drips and leaks.

Change the way you wash yourself

Even though baths are relaxing and satisfying, they waste a lot of water, so switch them for showers. Take shorter showers by putting an alarm clock in the bathroom or play music and limit your shower to two to three songs only. Shave and soap up with the water off. If you decide to take a bath, don’t overfill the tub. Use only as much water as you need, and use even less for small kids and pets. You can use the bath water for your garden or even to wash your car, just make sure that the soap you used is eco-friendly.

Modify your showerhead

If you’re using an older type of showerhead, the chances are you’re using up 15 to 20 liters of water per minute. If you can fill up a bucket in less than 20 seconds, get a new showerhead. There are water-efficient models with aerators that use only about 6 liters per minute, and they have different settings for different purposes.

Change the washing machine and modify the way you wash clothes

If you own an old washing machine, you’re using 20% more water than necessary. New models are water and energy efficient, especially if they have different modes. Also, you can reuse laundry water for your garden or car. See that you’re washing full loads or using water-level control setting on your machine to lower the unnecessary water consumption.

Cooking with less water

When washing fruits or veggies, wash them in a bowl instead of under the running tap. Thaw frozen food in a microwave or in the fridge. It’s less messy and uses up less water. You can also compost food waste by replacing your garbage disposal with a composting bin. It saves water and you get fresh compost for your garden. If you like drinking cold water, keep a bottle in the fridge, don’t use ice.

Lower dishwashing water consumption

If you own an older type you could be using around 60 liters per load. Compare that to a new model that uses 10 to 20 liters and you can see how much water you’re wasting. If you’re looking to buy a new model, look for those with an Energy Star label that save water and electricity. If you own a dishwasher, turn it on only when you have a full load of dishes.

If you’re hand-washing your dishes, don’t rinse them under a running tap. Use a separate sink (if you have one), fill it with clean water and use it for rinsing. You can also simply stack soapy dishes in a dish rack and rinse them with a pan of water. Capture exec clean water and use it for plants, flushing or even pets (if the water came directly from the tap).

Use less water outside

Many homes in Australia have big gardens and backyards and thus need a lot of water for maintaining lawns and plants. As much as 50% of all household water usage is spent on watering lawns and plants and much of it is a simple waste. If you want your garden to look great, but also want to save water, put compost on your plants. This way you will retain moisture, create an optimum temperature and feed your plants. Replace your wasteful sprinklers with drip irrigation system.

Also, choose the right time of day to water your plants. Water them in the morning, when the temperature is lower, to prevent all the water from evaporating. In addition to this, you should watch out for any leaks and drips. If you’re not handy with tools, you can call a seasoned professional, as this plumber from Sydney’s Inner West, to fix any leaks you have.

Collect rain water

This is a great way to save some water for (not so) rainy days and still keep your garden fresh. You can use that water later to water your plants, wash your car or even give it to your pets.

Now that you know all the tricks and tips on saving water, it’s time to start doing it yourself. Remember that by saving water you’re not only saving money, but you’re also helping the environment and thus ensuring that our kids will live in a greener future.

Image credit: kaboompics
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Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no ‘Planet B’ in this whole universe.

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Indoor Water Conservation Tips

Indoor water usage, unlike outdoors, is largely the same year-round. That’s good news, because it means a few water-saving measures can save a lot on indoor water consumption.

Here are 10 ways to help you start saving water indoors today:

(en español) Diez maneras de conservar el agua en interiores

  1. Replace an older toilet with a WaterSense-labeled high efficiency toilet. Older toilets can use up to 4 times more water per flush. Plus, many water providers offer rebates to help you save money when you upgrade.
  2. Regularly check for & repair water leaks. Even small leaks can waste hundreds to thousands of gallons of water a month. Many water leaks can be fixed by a do-it-yourself plumber, and repair parts are relatively inexpensive to purchase ($5-20).
  3. Take shorter showers. Each minute you shave off your shower time saves up to 2.5 gallons of water.
  4. Install an aerator on your bathroom or kitchen faucet and save about 1 gallon per minute. An aerator reduces the flow from the faucet, and uses air to maintain good water pressure.
  5. Select an Energy Star-approved clothes washer next time you purchase a new washer. They use 15-20 less gallons of water per load, and you will see savings on your energy costs too.
  6. Install a high efficiency showerhead, and you could save an about 1 gallon of water per minute.
  7. Know where your master shutoff valve is located. This could save water and prevent damage to your home.
  8. Wash only full loads. Dishwashers use about the same amount of energy and water regardless of the number of dishes inside, so run full loads whenever possible.
  9. Turn the sink faucet on only to rinse or use a large container filled with rinse water when washing dishes by hand. You will save about 2.5 gallons of water for every minute your faucet does not run.
  10. Scrape instead of pre-rinsing. Save yourself up to 20 gallons of water by scraping food off your dishes instead of pre-rinsing them. Energy Star qualified dishwashers and today’s detergents are designed to do the cleaning so you don’t have to. If your dirty dishes sit overnight, use your dishwasher’s rinse feature. It uses a fraction of the water needed to hand rinse.

Our Reasons to Save Water

Because of our planet’s abundance of water, astronauts looking at Earth from outer space have dubbed it the Blue Marble. In fact, water is one of the main reasons why life developed on our planet at all. However, in recent years, that very resource has been diminishing at a disturbing rate — which is precisely why water conservation has become such an important topic.

But how can this be happening when our planet is over 70% water? Well, less than 1% of that amount is in lakes, rivers, and underground. And according to the World Health Organisation, only 0.007% of the total water on our planet is actually fit for consumption. All of this makes it clear why saving water must become a priority for every household.

We, as a society, need to make some changes if we want our planet to last. And one of those changes includes saving water. Fortunately, this needn’t be a difficult task. There are many simple steps you can take to save water in your household. And there are several great reasons to start doing so right now.

1. Helping the Environment

The process of getting water into our homes is an energy-intensive one. Simply getting hot water from the tap requires energy. Cleaning the wastewater, or grey water, that leaves our homes increases our total energy use even more.

2. Water Scarcity

People across the world are living with limited and low-quality water. Although the poorest areas on the planet are usually hit the hardest, everyone is suffering. There are droughts in California making it impossible to efficiently fight wildfires. The water reservoirs in Cape Town are steadily diminishing, and many people are forced to ration their water.

3. Lower Cost

People who pay their water bill based on their water meter readings, rather than a fixed price, are much more likely to experience the full financial benefits of saving water. In fact, water meters are a great way to hold ourselves accountable for our water consumption.

How Easy Is It to Save Water?

Other than installing a water meter to help, what else do we need to do to save water at home?

Well, the first step we need to take toward having a truly water efficient home is changing our mindsets. That is really the hardest thing to do. However, once we realize that we don’t really need to shower for half an hour or have the tap running while we’re brushing our teeth — everything will come into perspective.

There’s also a little game for the people who like to dive in deep into water conservation. We could try to calculate the amount of water our household consumes on a daily level.

The resulting number is our water footprint. Naturally, we’re not able to calculate the water that goes into making every product we’re using. That number is astonishing in and of itself. But for now, figuring out how much water we’re literally pouring down the drain will be enough.

Tips and Tricks on Saving Water

Finding ways to conserve water at home doesn’t have to be all that complicated. Most of us have seen the occasional Save Water poster at school, and the internet abounds in Save Water infographics as well. In fact, there are many water saving tips online, and we’ve decided to add to those numbers. But in this article, we’ll reveal how to change the tides once and for all.

In the Bathroom

The bathroom accounts for 70% of the total water consumption of an average household. Furthermore, we use over 40% of that amount for flushing alone. Surely, there are ways we can bring those numbers down a bit.

1. Turn the Tap Off

The number one tip to save water at home is to simply stop running the tap when we don’t need water. That includes leaving the faucet on while we’re brushing our teeth or soaping our hands or face. In fact, we’re losing 10 liters — over 2.6 gallons — of water for every minute that a tap is left running.

The simplest way to stop doing that is to manually turn the faucet off when it’s not in use. However, we might also consider getting a WELS rated faucet which would prevent too much water loss. Another type of product that may be useful is a water aerator, which inhibits water flow.

2. Don’t Bathe — Shower

In an average family, 22% of the household water is used on showering and bathing. Naturally, if we’re trying to save water, we might suggest skipping your bath altogether. Instead, you can take showers.

However, many people also love taking long, hot showers. These not only waste water, but they also waste the energy it takes to get scalding water to come out of the showerhead. A good trick for making yourself take short showers is to have a 5-minute shower song. That would force us to stay focused on the shower and get out of there before the song ends. Additionally, a water-efficient showerhead might also prevent us from wasting too much water.

3. Collect Shower and Tap Water

Those of us who make it a habit to let the water run until the bathroom steams up before getting in the shower are wasting even more water. If we really must do this, we might as well make the most out of the water we’re wasting. Setting up a bucket in the shower would save water for flushing and watering plants later. The bucket can even stay in the tub as we shower. As long as shampoo doesn’t get inside, we may use it to water plants. And even if the water is sudsy, we could always use it for flushing.

4. Install a Rainwater Shower Tank

Depending on local rules and regulations surrounding the collection of rainwater, we might even be able to install a rainwater shower tank. Although drinking rainwater is usually ill-advised, people all over the world shower with it. All it takes is an open-top barrel with a showerhead attached to the bottom. Most of the time rainwater showers are outdoor solutions, though. In any case, we’ll talk about how you can make the most of rainwater later.

5. Check the Toilet for Leaks

As we have mentioned, a large portion of the household’s daily water usage goes toward flushing. But before we can attempt to lessen the amount of water that’s lost every time we flush, we ought to check the toilet itself for leaks. Ideally, we’d start any attempt at household water conservation by checking for leaks. After all, those are literally the biggest waste of water.

However, leaks in the household are actually the least of our problems. Many of the planet’s largest and most developed cities have outdated water pipes that are leaking water and waste into the ground. Unfortunately, most of us can’t do much about that on our own. Still, if we continue to raise awareness about water scarcity, we might be able to eventually fix that issue as well.

6. Put a Bottle in the Toilet Tank

Putting a water bottle in the toilet tank is one of the best ways to conserve water at home. Many companies actually sell “cistern displacement device” but plopping a water bottle in the tank works just as well. Without something to fill the tank a bit, the water will keep rushing into the tank until it’s full. But we don’t really need all of that water to flush.

However, we can’t just use empty plastic bottles, can we? The bottle needs some weight to sink and displace the water. So we can fill it with rocks or sand. It’s just a matter of finding a bottle that fits inside the tank without disturbing any of the internal moving parts.

7. Get an Environmentally Friendly Toilet

There are many types of toilets that would help us achieve our water conservation goals. Dual-flush toilets are a very popular choice because they offer two levels of flushing for liquid and solid waste. However, if we don’t want to invest in completely new toilets, there are also dual-flush conversion kits to convert regular toilets. Other eco-friendly alternatives include pressure-assisted toilets and waterless composting toilets.

In the Kitchen

Other than bathrooms, kitchens also get their fair share of water consumption. In addition to sharing some great tips for saving water in our kitchens, we’ll also discuss how our dietary preferences affect our water consumption.

1. Save Water While Doing the Dishes

One of the best ways to conserve water at home is to shut the water off when we’re not actively using it. In the kitchen, that means being economical while doing the dishes.

Dishwashers are actually wonderful ways to save water at home. They tend to use less water for doing dishes than we do when we’re hand washing them. However, there are a few things most of us can stand to improve. For one, rather than pre-rinsing our dishes, we could simply scrape away the food into a composting bin before putting them into the machine. Furthermore, we ought to wait until the machine is full to the brim before turning it on.

On the other side, washing dishes by hand takes a bit of planning:

  • First, scrape off the food leftovers.
  • Then put a bowl in the sink to catch the water and wet the dishes.
  • After a certain amount of water has collected in the bowl, turn the faucet off.
  • Continue to wet the dishes in the bowl, soap them, and put them to the side.
  • Finally, rinse the dishes off, all at once.

This method will save all of the water that would have gone to waste while you were washing and rinsing each dish individually.

2. Change the Way You Wash Your Fruits and Veggies

A lot of good, usable water goes down the drain while we’re doing our meal prep. To avoid this, we can use a bowl to wash our fruits and veggies. Or, we might simply plug the sink. However, using a bowl would be preferable because we’d be able to water our plants afterward.

3. Don’t use Water for Defrosting

Many people use hot water for defrosting meats and other preserved food items. However, that’s really an unnecessary waste of water. Instead of using hot water to thaw the frozen food faster, leave it in the fridge overnight or let it out in room temperature. Either way, make sure to catch the thawed water in a bowl to avoid making a mess.

4. Fix Leaky Faucets

Naturally, we can all apply this tip everywhere in our homes where we have a water supply. Leaking faucets or pipes can only cause trouble down the line, so it’s best to deal with them quickly.

5. Get a Water Aerator to Regulate Faucets

As we have previously mentioned, water aerators are nifty gadgets that can prevent us from using the full pressurized capacity of our faucets. They also only cost a few dollars, and there’s really no downside to having one in the kitchen.

6. Change Your Diet

Our meat consumption is actually one of the main reasons why we’re having to worry about saving water in the first place. It takes 345 gallons (1,300 liters) of water to produce just over 2 pounds (a kilo) of wheat. The same amount of rice takes almost 900 gallons of water to produce. As if those numbers weren’t already awful enough, 2 pounds of beef takes over 4,000 gallons of water.

So if you want to know how to save water in daily life, you can start by eating less meat. Additionally, we can also make sure to eat less processed foods. And lastly, we can make sure not to waste food. A large amount of food we produce goes to waste, which, in turn, wastes the water that went into making it. Therefore, we should get all we can out of every bite and compost the food we don’t eat.

In the Garden

Did you know that agriculture actually accounts for more than 70% of total water consumption? It’s true! And while most of us don’t have crops in our gardens, we do have flowers and lawns that need water to thrive. Fortunately, we can have beautiful gardens while also maintaining a low water footprint.

1. Don’t Over-Water

Although having to water a garden often isn’t ideal, there are a few ways to make the most of it. For one, we might suggest watering early in the morning or after the sun sets. That would ensure that the water doesn’t evaporate before it gets a chance to soak the ground.

However, we should also note that gardens shouldn’t be watered too often or for too long. In fact, daily watering can lead to weaker roots. Instead, we ought to water about once a week, making sure that the water soaks into the ground well. Those who are using a sprinkler system can also manage their water consumption by resetting their timer.

2. Check the Hose for Leaks

If we are watering our garden, we don’t want the water getting everywhere. To prevent this, we can check the hose and the water source for leaks and fix them as we find them.

3. Plant Flowers that Require Less Water

Of course, one of the simplest ways to avoid having to waste a lot of water in the garden would be to plant flowers that require less water. Many great plants would qualify, including lavender, palms, verbena, and the butterfly bush. Not to mention the many native plants that are used to the local climate and therefore require less care overall.

4. Use Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation systems have been able to help farmers across the world lower their water consumption. These watering systems specifically target plants at the root, reducing water evaporation. And, despite being so successful on large farms, drip irrigation would work well for small gardens as well.

5. Compost

Compost is organic fertilizer that actually improves the plants’ health over time. In fact, using compost can make plants hold onto water for longer periods of time, making it possible for us to go longer between watering our gardens.
Check out decompose.co – composting for beginners

6. Collect Rainwater

Setting up a rain collecting barrel in our gardens would be a true gamechanger. In fact, doing this would ensure that our gardens are well taken care of, come rain or shine. Not to mention that we might also use that water to wash our cars. Best of all, it’s completely free!

7. Cover the Pool

People who like to lounge by their pools are already wasting a lot of water. However, they’d be wasting even more of it if they needed to clean it and replace it too often. Leaving a pool uncovered would result in dirt and debris getting into the water faster. Additionally, since the water would be under the sun for days on end, much of that water would evaporate. So, if we don’t want to give up our poolside fun, we might as well implement some measures to protect the water.

8. Clean With a Broom — Not a Hose

Finally, those of us who have a habit of cleaning the outside of our homes with a water hose might want to consider an alternative approach. Using a broom would save water and cost much less in the long run.

In the Laundry Room

There are three main water conservation tips we might suggest to keep waste at a minimum when doing laundry:

  • Get an eco-friendly washing machine. The best way to save water is to use devices that were made with conservation in mind. When we’re talking about laundry machines, there are many products that say exactly how much water they use per wash. Usually, front-loading machines are more water-efficient than top-loading ones.
  • Limit your laundry washing to one full load per week. Just like with dishwashers, washing machines ought to be at full capacity when we use them. Ideally, we would also limit ourselves to one or two loads per week. However, that may be impossible for some families.
  • Use any leftover water. As long as there are no chemicals in the water, we may be able to use it to water our plants. However, if there are chemicals, the water that would’ve gone from our machines into the pipes could be used again for flushing! We can simply reroute the machine’s pipes to a collection bin.

Final Thoughts on Saving Water

Ultimately, all of us have a duty to protect this planet we call home. It’s the only one we’ll get, so we might as well take good care of it by using water sparingly. So, while scientists are working on more permanent solutions, all of us can do our part to give them that extra time by not contributing to the swift diminishing of Earth’s resources.

Water saving tips

The average person in the UK uses 150 litres each day. Here’s how to reduce that…

  1. Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth – this can save 6 litres of water per minute.
  2. Place a cistern displacement device in your toilet cistern to reduce the volume of water used in each flush. You can get one of these from your water provider.
  3. Take a shorter shower. Showers can use anything between 6 and 45 litres per minute. Consider getting an aerated shower head, which combines water and air, or inserting a regulator in your shower, which puts an upper limit on flow rates.
  4. Always use full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher – this cuts out unnecessary washes in between.
  5. Fix a dripping tap. A dripping tap can waste 15 litres of water a day, or 5,500 litres of water a year.
  6. Install a water butt to your drainpipe and use it to water your plants, clean your car and wash your windows. A water butt can collect around 5,000 litres a year.
  7. Water your garden with a watering can rather than a hosepipe. A hosepipe can use as much as 1,000 litres of water an hour. Mulching your plants (with bark chippings, heavy compost or straw) and watering in the early morning and late afternoon will reduce evaporation and also save water.
  8. Fill a jug with tap water and place this in your fridge. This will mean you do not have to leave the cold tap running for the water to run cold before you fill your glass.
  9. Install a water meter. When you’re paying your utility provider for exactly how much water you use, laid out in an itemised bill, there’s an incentive to waste less of the stuff.
  10. Invest in water-efficient goods when you need to replace household products. You can now get water-efficient showerheads, taps, toilets, washing machines, dishwashers and many other water-saving products. For more information visit the Waterwise website.

Why does saving water matter?

Even though water doesn’t appear in short supply in the UK, using less water actually means you are:

  • Reducing energy use. Cleaning waste water (or ‘grey water’, as it’s called) is an energy-intensive process; so is heating the hot water that comes out of your taps.
  • Saving money. If you’re on a water meter, these tips above could save you a bob or two.

Money Crashers

In the spring of 2015, Californians were forced to start thinking very carefully about how much water they used. After four years of drought, Governor Jerry Brown imposed water restrictions throughout the state, ordering cities and towns to cut their water usage by an average of 25%. Cars went unwashed; lawns slowly turned brown, or else were replaced with drought-tolerant plants and mulch. Residents who broke the new rules faced fines of up to $500 per day.

In a severe drought such as California’s, it’s easy to see why saving water is important – and why failing to do so can cost you money. But even if your area is getting plenty of rainfall right now, water still isn’t free. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American household pays $474 a year for water and sewage charges, or $2 for every 1,000 gallons of water it uses. So every time you leave the faucet running while you wash dishes or brush your teeth, you’re literally watching your money go down the drain.

The cost of water use isn’t limited to what you pay on your water bill either. If the water running down your drain is hot water, then you’re also wasting energy, adding extra dollars to your monthly gas or electric bill. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating water accounts for about 17% of household energy use, costing the average American family between $400 and $600 a year.

By trimming your household water use, you can keep more of that money in your pocket – and possibly help fend off the next drought in your area. And, in many cases, it takes only a few simple changes to save the planet and your dollars at the same time.

Saving Water Indoors

If you want to cut down on your personal water use, the best place to start is at home. Since home is the place where you spend the largest share of your time – and where you most often bathe, wash dishes, and do laundry – it’s the place that provides you with the most opportunities to save.

The EPA says a typical American family of four goes through 400 gallons of water a day, and 70% of that is used indoors. The bathroom accounts for the largest share of water usage, but you can also save water in any room where it is used, including the kitchen, the laundry room, and any room in which there is a plumbing leak.

Finding and Fixing Leaks

One of the most important ways to save water at home is to find and fix plumbing leaks. Even a small leak can add up to big water losses if left unfixed. According to the EPA, the average household loses 10,000 gallons of water each year to plumbing leaks – enough to wash 270 loads of laundry. About 10% of homes have leaks major enough to cost them 90 gallons of water per day,

Fixing minor leaks, such as dripping faucets, leaking valves, or worn toilet flappers, is an easy DIY job that doesn’t require a plumber. According to the EPA, repairing these easily corrected leaks can save you around 10% on your water bills. And better yet, it stops those small leaks from turning into big ones that could require a plumber to fix.

One way to determine whether you have any water leaks in your home is to check your water bill during the winter months, when you’re not using a lot of water outdoors. The EPA says that if a family of four is going through more than 12,000 gallons per month, that’s a sign of a serious leak problem. You can also check your water meter right after everyone leaves the house in the morning and check it again as soon as you get home. If any water was used during the day when no one was home, you know there’s a leak somewhere.

Once you know there’s a leak, you need to figure out where it is. You can sometimes detect surface leaks by examining your faucet gaskets and pipe fittings to see if there’s any water on the outside of the pipe. If you think your toilet tank might be leaking, you can check by putting a drop of food coloring into the tank and seeing whether any of the color has seeped into the bowl after 10 minutes. Flush the toilet right after this experiment to make sure you don’t stain the tank.

As soon as you’ve identified a leak, take steps to fix it. Even if you’ve never done it before, there’s a wealth of DIY tutorials and videos online that you can find with a simple Internet search. The EPA’s WaterSense website also provides links to a variety of online resources on how to fix leaky faucets, toilets, and showerheads.

According to the EPA, more than half of all water used inside a home takes place in the bathroom. The toilet alone can account for 27% of a family’s water usage. So it makes sense that if you want to cut your household water consumption, the bathroom should be the first place to look.

Here are several easy steps you can take to cut back in the bathroom:

  • Turn Off the Tap. The EPA says a standard bathroom faucet runs at about 2 gallons per minute (gpm). This means that letting the bathroom faucet run for a few minutes each day while you shave or brush your teeth can cost you as much as 300 gallons a month. You can also save water when you shave by plugging up the sink when you rinse your face and using that water to rinse your razor as well.
  • Take Short Showers. A bathtub holds around 36 gallons of water, while a standard showerhead uses about 2.5 gallons of water per minute. That means that as long as you keep your time in the shower to 14 minutes or less, a shower uses less water than a bath – and the shorter the shower, the more you save. By cutting your daily shower from 10 minutes to 5 minutes, you can save 375 gallons per month.
  • Switch Off the Shower. You can use even less water in the shower by switching off the water when you don’t need it. One you’ve wet yourself down, you can switch off the water while you soap up, shave, or wash your hair, and then switch it back on to rinse off. If you can switch off the shower water for just two minutes a day, you can save another 150 gallons a month.
  • Adjust Your Toilet. If the toilets in your home were installed before 1990, they could be using anywhere from 3.5 to 7 gallons of water with every single flush. However, there are a couple of ways to reduce this amount without having to replace the entire toilet. One way is to install a toilet tank bank – a bag filled with water that hangs inside the tank, displacing water and reducing the amount it takes to refill the tank. You can also retrofit an older toilet by installing a fill cycle diverter – a simple plastic device that directs more water to the tank and less to the bowl during refill, so both the tank and the bowl fill at the same time. Either of these tools can save you half a gallon per flush, and a video by the Regional Water Providers Consortium shows how to install them. Toilet tank banks and fill cycle diverters are often available from your local water provider, but if you can’t find one, you can save the same amount of water with a free, quick fix: just put a half-gallon milk jug filled with water in the tank.
  • Install Faucet Aerators. With a small investment of money and time, you can adjust your bathroom faucets to use less water. A simple gadget called a faucet aerator, which only costs several dollars and twists right into place on the tip of your faucet, can cut its maximum flow rate from 2.2 gpm to 1.5. Make sure to choose a faucet aerator bearing the WaterSense label for the greatest possible savings. The EPA says replacing standard faucets and aerators with WaterSense models can save a family as much as 700 gallons of water per year – close to 60 gallons per month.
  • Get a Better Showerhead. A change that costs a little more up front, but also offers bigger potential savings, is to replace your standard 2.5-gpm showerhead with a WaterSense showerhead, which uses no more than 2 gpm. The EPA estimates that replacing just one showerhead with a WaterSense model would save the average family 2,900 gallons of water per year, along with more than $70 in energy and water costs. Top-rated water-saving showerheads cost around $30, so the investment would pay for itself in less than six months.
  • Upgrade Your Toilet. For even bigger savings, you can replace an older toilet with a new toilet, which uses only 1.6 gallons per flush – or, better still, a WaterSense toilet, which uses no more than 1.28 gallons per flush. According to Save Our Water, replacing an old toilet with a modern toilet can save a family about 38 gallons of water per day, while upgrading to a new WaterSense toilet can save 45 gallons. That adds up to between 1,140 and 1,350 gallons per month. You can buy a new standard toilet for as little as $90, while WaterSense toilets start at around $250.

The kitchen faucet is another good place to install a low-flow faucet aerator. Cutting the flow rate means that while you use less water every time you wash a dish, it also takes a bit longer to fill pots or drinking glasses. Some kitchen faucet aerators have extra features, such as the ability to switch between a stream and a spray, or a swivel that can direct the water in any direction, which is useful for cleaning the sink.

Other water-saving strategies for the kitchen include:

  • Wash With Less Water. Instead of letting the water run steadily as you wash dishes, fill up the sink or a basin with hot, soapy water. The EPA says this can cut your water use from 20 gallons to 10 for a sink-load of dishes. If you want to be even more efficient, fill a second basin with clean water for rinsing the dishes, rather than using the tap. You can also clean dishes with less water if you scrape off extra food before you start and let your dirty pots and pans soak for a while, rather than trying to scrub them clean under a running faucet.
  • Fill the Dishwasher. Dishwashers vary widely in the amount of water used. Older dishwashers can use as much as 16 gallons per load, while new models bearing the ENERGY STAR label require no more than 6 gallons – and use less electricity as well. However, even an older dishwasher uses less water when it’s fully loaded than washing the same number of dishes by hand. Scrape the excess food off your dishes before putting them into the dishwasher, but don’t rinse them. According to Consumer Reports, modern dishwashers pack enough punch to get dishes clean without any pre-rinsing, and the EPA says skipping this step can save you as much as 10 gallons of water per load.
  • Upgrade Your Dishwasher. To save even more water, replace an older dishwasher with a new ENERGY STAR model. This can save you up to 10 gallons per load – which, if you run your dishwasher about four times per week, adds up to more than 2,000 gallons per year. A new ENERGY STAR dishwasher costs at least $500, but Consumer Reports estimates that it can save you $35 a year on your utility bills.
  • Cook With Less Water. When you cook, choose a pot that’s the right size for the job. If you pick a pot that’s too big, you could end up using more water than you really need.
  • Don’t Defrost With Water. Instead of running water over food to thaw it, put it in the refrigerator to defrost overnight, or else use your microwave. In addition to wasting water, thawing food under hot tap water is unsafe because it promotes the growth of bacteria, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
  • Rinse in a Pan. When you wash fruits and vegetables, put them in a pan of water instead of running each one under the faucet. When you’re done, you can use the water in the pan to water house plants. You can also use your plants to dispose of an ice cube you’ve dropped on the floor instead of just tossing it in the sink.
  • Chill Your Water. Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator. That way, when you want a glass of cold water, you don’t need to let the faucet run until the water cools down.
  • Skip the Disposal. Instead of washing vegetable scraps and peels down the garbage disposal, toss them in a compost pile to make free fertilizer for your home vegetable garden.

According to the California Energy Commission, the average American household does about 300 loads of laundry per year. Old-fashioned washing machines use around 40 gallons of water per load, so that adds up to a whopping 12,000 gallons per year.

There are several ways to get that number down:

  • Only Wash Full Loads. By waiting to do your laundry until you have enough to fill the washing machine, you can do fewer loads and use less water and energy overall. If this cuts back your total laundry by five loads per month, that’s a savings of up to 200 gallons. Washing full loads is especially important if you have a front-loading washer, which uses the same amount of water no matter how full it is. If you have a top-loading machine, you can save some water when doing smaller loads by selecting a lower water level or smaller load size.
  • Only Wash in Cold Water. Using cold water instead of hot doesn’t cut your water usage, but it saves a lot of energy. Experts say that cold water can do a perfectly good job of cleaning clothes that aren’t heavily soiled or greasy – especially if you use a cold-water detergent. According to Consumer Reports, switching to cold water can save the average family about $60 a year in energy costs. As a bonus, Smithsonian says clothes shrink less and retain their color better when washed in cold water.
  • Upgrade Your Washer. While older machines use around 40 gallons of water per load, modern ones use only 23 gallons per load, according to ENERGY STAR. New washers bearing the ENERGY STAR label are even more efficient, using just 13 gallons per load – and they use about 25% less energy as well. If your household goes through the average 300 loads of laundry per year, replacing an old washer with a new ENERGY STAR model will save you 8,100 gallons of water. It can also cut your utility bills by around $180 per year, according to ENERGY STAR. ENERGY STAR washing machines start around $500.

Saving Water Outdoors

The EPA reports that American households use approximately 29 billion gallons of water each day. On average, about 30% of that – 9 billion gallons – is used outdoors for purposes like watering lawns and gardens, washing cars, and filling swimming pools. However, in the summertime or in dry climates, families use as much as 70% of their water outdoors. So during the summer months, saving water outdoors can make an even bigger dent in your water bill than cutting water use indoors.

Watering the Lawn

The lawn is the biggest water hog in many yards. However, that doesn’t mean that the only way to cut back on your water usage is to let your lawn go brown, as many Californians did in 2015. In fact, watering less could actually improve your lawn’s health, since many American families give their lawns much more water than is actually needed. Over-watering can drown your plants or lead to problems such as shallow roots, weed growth, fungus, and disease, according to the EPA.

In addition to running up your water bill, excessive watering causes problems for the environment. When your yard has more water than the soil can hold, it runs off over the ground surface, carrying chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides with it. This runoff often ends up in streams and lakes, contributing to pollution. By watering less, you can both prevent pollution and reduce the amount of pesticide and fertilizer you need to use in your yard – keeping still more money in your pocket.

According to the EPA, in many areas of the country, a grass lawn needs about an inch of water per week to stay healthy – including the amount it gets from rainfall. To figure out how long it takes to give your lawn this amount of water, try putting a few empty tuna cans around the yard while you run the sprinkler and seeing how long it takes them to fill with half an inch of water. Then you can just run the sprinkler for that amount of time twice a week, skipping one watering each time it rains.

Here are several other tips for watering wisely:

  • Adjust for the Weather. In hot, dry, or windy weather, your lawn needs more water, while in the cooler months it needs less (or even none). One good rule of thumb is never to water when the soil is already wet; wait until it’s dried out to a depth of about an inch. Another way to see if your lawn needs water is to walk around on it and see how the grass reacts to being stepped on. If it springs back upright, it doesn’t need any more water. You can also keep an eye on the color of the grass. Grass shouldn’t look as bright green in the summertime as it does in cooler weather, but if it starts to take on a grayish color, that’s a sign that it needs more water.
  • Water in Zones. Because water evaporates more quickly in warm, sunny spots, the sunny areas of your lawn need more water than the shady areas – about 30% more, according to the California Urban Water Conservation Council (CUWCC). To avoid wasting water in shady areas, set up your sprinklers in zones, and run the ones in the sun more often than the ones in the shade. You can also adjust the watering schedule based on the flow rate of the sprinkler and the other plants in that area of the yard.
  • Water Deeply but Infrequently. Your lawn will be healthier if you give it a good soaking once in a while, rather than just a little water every day. The CUWCC recommends waiting until the landscape is dry, then watering it long enough to soak the soil to a depth of four to six inches. This encourages your grass to grow deeper roots, making it better able to tolerate drought in the future.
  • Choose Your Time. If you water your lawn in the middle of the day, a lot of the water will evaporate in the hot sun before it soaks into the soil, and you’ll end up having to water again sooner. By watering in the cool hours of the evening or early morning, you can cut evaporation loss. Save Our Water estimates that this can save you as much as 25 gallons each time you water your lawn. Also, avoid using sprinklers on windy days, since this results in uneven watering and scatters water onto paved areas that don’t need it.
  • Position Sprinklers Properly. According to Save Our Water, sprinklers waste as much as 12 to 15 gallons per use on paved areas, such as streets and sidewalks. To prevent this waste, check your sprinklers frequently and reposition them as needed to keep their spray on the lawn, where it belongs.
  • Cycle Your Sprinklers. According to the CUWCC, most sprinklers apply water faster than the ground can absorb it – particularly if you have heavy clay soil. To make sure the water soaks in fully, it’s better to spread out your watering over two or three short cycles, instead of spraying it all on at once. You can set sprinklers to run for a specified amount of time by attaching a timer valve to your outdoor faucet.
  • Shut Off the Flow. If you water your lawn by hand, make sure the spray nozzle on your garden hose has a shut-off valve. That way you can shut off the water while you move the hose from spot to spot, rather than letting it continue to run. One good choice is a “watering wand” with a shut-off built into the handle.
  • Mow Correctly. Cutting your grass too short forces it to put all its energy into new growth, rather than into developing deep roots that help it get water and nutrients. It also exposes more of the grass blades to the sun, increasing evaporation. To grow a healthy lawn that requires less water, raise the blade on your lawn mower so that you don’t remove more than one-third of each blade of grass when you cut it. The CUWCC says the ideal grass height is two to three inches for tall fescue, two to two-and-a-half inches for bluegrass, and one inch for warm-season grasses such as Bermuda and zoysia.
  • Recycle the Clippings. Instead of bagging up the grass clippings when you mow, leave them on the lawn. As they break down, they return water and nutrients to the soil, reducing the need for both water and fertilizer. A good way to remember this rule, along with the previous one, is to “cut it high and let it lie.”
  • Reduce the Lawn Size. Turf grass is one of the most water-intensive plants you can grow in your yard. By reducing the size of your lawn, you can significantly reduce your outdoor water use – as well as the amount of time you spend mowing. You can cut back the size of your lawn by planting new trees and shrubs, expanding flower beds and vegetable gardens, or adding a patio or garden path. You can also replace some or all of the grass with ground covers, native grasses, or alternative lawn seed mixes containing herbs and wildflowers. The Regional Water Providers Consortium has a video on ways to reduce the size of your lawn, and an Internet search for “reduce lawn size” turns up many pages devoted to the subject.

In and Around the Yard

Although the lawn is often the thirstiest part of a yard, it’s not the only area that consumes water. Here are some tips for conserving water in the rest of the yard:

  • Water Wisely. Many of the tips for watering your lawn properly also apply to the rest of the yard. Setting up sprinklers in zones, watering deeply but infrequently, watering in the evening, and adjusting for the weather make sense for all your plants.
  • Use Mulch. Adding two to three inches of mulch or compost around the base of trees and other plants reduces evaporation and cools the soil, so you need less water. It also helps prevent weeds and keep the soil healthy. According to Save Our Water, for every 1,000 square feet of garden that you add mulch to, you can save 20 to 30 gallons each time you water. When mulching trees, be careful to keep the mulch a few inches away from the trunk to prevent rot.
  • Check Your Plants’ Water Needs. Mature shrubs only need to be watered twice a week in the summertime, and some native plants need even less water. On the other hand, newly planted shrubs and trees need more frequent watering because their root systems are still growing. The EPA’s WaterSense Water Budget Tool can help you calculate how much water your plants need. You can also consult your local cooperative extension, which you can find using this USDA map.
  • Know Your Plants. Get to know the plants in your yard and learn to recognize when they’re showing signs of drying out. For instance, many plants wilt when they need water – but wilting can also be a sign of disease or a sign that the roots are dying from over-watering. Also, some drought-resistant plants curl up their leaves in hot weather to conserve water, which can make them look like they’re wilting. So if you’re in doubt, check the soil moisture before adding more water.
  • Look Into Xeriscaping. If the plants in your yard use more water than you’d like, you can replace some or all of them with plants that have lower water needs. This practice, called xeriscaping, can reduce your yard’s water needs by 30 to 60 gallons per watering for every 1,000 square feet, according to Save Our Water. The EPA site provides tools for designing a water-conserving landscape, including the Water Budget Tool and a list of plants appropriate for different regions.
  • Try Drip Irrigation. A drip irrigation system is basically a water-filled tube with a small hole that slowly drips water into the soil right at the base of a plant. This sends water directly to the roots where it’s needed, rather than onto the surface where it can be lost through runoff or evaporation. According to Save Our Water, drip irrigation is at least 90% more efficient than surface watering and also helps prevent disease and reduce weed growth. Types of drip systems include emitters, microsprays, and soaker hoses. You can hook up a drip system to your garden hose and operate it by hand or connect it permanently to your home water source and run it with an automatic controller, which makes watering your yard virtually effortless.
  • Use a Smart Controller. If you have your irrigation system on a timer, you have to remember to turn it off when it rains so you aren’t watering wet ground. However, a WaterSense-labeled irrigation controller can sense how much water is in the soil and switch on automatically when it’s needed. You can use this type of controller for both sprinklers and drip systems, and should be able to find one on sale for less than $100.
  • Check for Leaks. According to the EPA, an irrigation system with a leak just 0.03 inches across – about the thickness of a dime – can waste about 6,300 gallons of water in a single month. If you use a sprinkler system or a drip irrigation system, check it before you set it up in the spring to make sure it hasn’t been damaged by freezing weather. Also, when you hook up your garden hose, check that it isn’t leaking at the point where it connects to the spigot. If you see any drips, try tightening the connection, adding some pipe tape, or replacing the washer in the hose. If you’re setting up a new irrigation system, or if you want to make sure yours is working efficiently, you can use the EPA site to find a WaterSense-certified irrigation professional in your area.
  • Use Rain Barrels. Another way to cut your water bill is to replace some of the household water you use outdoors with captured rain water. The simplest way to do this is to redirect one of the downspouts on your roof into a barrel that you can either dip into by hand or hook up to a garden hose or soaker hose. According to the CUWCC, a 50-gallon rain barrel costs about $100 or less, and a 1,500-foot roof will easily fill it after a one-inch rainfall. If you fill and empty the barrel four times over the course of the growing season, you’ll save 200 gallons of household water. The barrel can also provide a backup source of water in times of drought. However, the EPA warns that collecting rainwater is illegal in some states, so you should check with your state water agency before installing a rain barrel at home.

Other Outdoor Uses

Along with watering lawns and landscapes, people use water outdoors for pools and other water features, as well as for cleaning. Here are some ways to keep these other outdoor water uses under control:

  • Get Out the Broom. If you need to remove dirt and debris from the driveway, steps, or sidewalk, use a broom rather than a hose. According to Save Our Water, a standard garden hose uses anywhere from 5 to 20 gpm, so if it takes you five minutes to hose down the pavement, that’s anywhere from 25 to 100 gallons down the drain. If you need to remove spills or stains that can’t be swept away, try spraying down with a little bit of water and then using a broom instead of the hose to scrub the stain away. Alternately, you can get a “water broom” attachment, which boosts the water pressure of your hose by mixing in air. This cuts the flow rate to around 2.8 gpm.
  • Don’t Hose Down the Car. The best way to wash your car is to take it to a commercial car wash where the water can be recycled. A basic wash only costs around $5 and probably does a more thorough job than you could do at home with a hose. However, if you don’t have the time or the cash to spare, fill up a bucket full of water and use that to sponge down the car. A bucket holds about two gallons of water, so compared to a five-minute hose-down, you’ll save anywhere from 23 to 98 gallons.
  • Keep Pools Covered. If you have a swimming pool, keep the cover on when you’re not using it to cut the amount of water lost to evaporation. Covering the pool also helps keep it warmer at night, reducing your energy costs for pool heating.
  • Watch the Water Level. When you fill up the pool, keep an eye on the water level so it doesn’t overflow and waste precious water. Plug the overflow line when you add water, as well as when you use the pool, so that any extra water stays in the pool rather than running down the drain.
  • Keep Water in the Pool. Diving, splashing, and water fights all splash a lot of water out of the pool, requiring more water to refill it. That doesn’t mean you should ruin everyone’s fun by banning these activities completely, but remind swimmers not to get too rowdy. If you use an automatic pool cleaner, turn off the tile-spray device. It can send water splashing up out of the pool, and a lot of its spray evaporates before it even hits the tile.
  • Shut Off Fountains. Ornamental water features, like fountains and waterfalls, are pretty to look at, but there’s no point running them when there’s no one around to enjoy them. By shutting them off, you reduce the amount of aeration in the water, so less of it evaporates – and you save on energy as well.

Final Word

Some of the biggest water-saving strategies, such as replacing older appliances and plumbing fixtures, cost a fair bit of money up front. If you buy a new $700 dishwasher to save $35 a year on your utility bills, it will take your new appliance 20 years to pay for itself – if it even lasts that long.

Other water-saving tips cost nothing, but don’t save you all that much. For example, saving the little bit of water you use to rinse fruits and vegetables won’t make much of a dent in your water bill – though every little bit helps.

However, some water-saving strategies give you a really big bang for your buck. Taking shorter showers, washing only full loads of laundry, and cleaning the sidewalk with a broom rather than a hose can all save you 200 gallons or more per month – without any money spent up front. All it takes is a minor change in your habits.

Admittedly, old habits can be hard to break, and adapting to a new, water-conscious lifestyle may be tricky at first. But the longer you stick to your new plan, the easier it becomes. In time, things like washing your dishes in a basin or shutting off the water as you shave will become second nature. And once you get used to your new, lower utility bills, you’ll shake your head in amazement at all the money you used to send down the drain.

What steps have you taken to save water at home?

21 Ways to Conserve Water at Home

Do the earth a favor and conserve water at home this summer by collecting rainwater, mulching your lawn, avoid running your pool filter and letting your grass grow.

Water conservation is a pretty big deal, but it has the bonus of saving you money in the process. As water usage and costs inevitably rise during the summer months, there are easy ways to conserve water and cut the bill at home. Learn how to save water at home with these five summer-specific tips and fifteen more everyday ideas for conserving water. Plus, a bonus tip, for Mother Nature’s sake.

1. Let Your Grass Grow

Raise your mower deck so your grass is never lower than 3 inches. The roots will grow deeper, the blades will shade the root system and it’s an easy way to improve the soil’s ability to retain moisture.

2. Heave the Hose

Your lawn only needs about 1 inch of water each week. Heavy rainfall eliminates the need to water for as long as 2 weeks. Here are some easy ways to conserve water for your lawn without a wasteful hose:

• Collect rainwater
• Collect “warm-up” water in a bucket whenever you wait for the shower to be body-ready
• Wash your car on—or close to—your lawn
• Washing veggies? Use a bucket; pour the waste water on your lawn or plants
• Same thing goes for pasta water
• Check out your downspouts: direct the flow where you want water to go

Related:DIY Yard Drainage Solutions

3. Maximize with Mulch

Mulch is doubly useful to trees and plants because it slows evaporation and discourages weed growth. Add 2-4 inches of organic material around your plants, pressing down around the drip line to prevent water run-off.

4. Protect Your Pipes

A drip of one drop per second will waste 2,700 gallons of water in a year. Check your water bill; if it’s rising, water is leaking. Conserve water at home by replacing any leaking pipes, faucets, spigots and loose washers.

5. Avoid Running Your Pool Filter

For many reasons, you should avoid running your pool filter when the sun is shining. Running your filter at night will prevent water—and chlorine—from evaporating. (If you have a pool full of kids, though, run the filter while they’re shaking things up. That’ll help cut down on vacuuming.)

Read more: Maximize Your Swimming Pool’s Efficiency

Even More Ways to Conserve Water

6. Turn the water off while you brush your teeth and save up to 50 gallons of water per week—per person.

7. Use a cup of warm water to rinse your razor.

8. Put a brick (or 2-liter filled with rocks) in your toilet’s tank for an easy DIY low-flow upgrade.

9. If you plan to be quick, take a shower; if you’re going to be a while, take a bath.

10. Cut showers shorter by skipping the rinse and repeat: try a dry shampoo.

11. Use the dishwasher—it’s more efficient than elbow grease.

12. Only do full loads—clothes, dishes, doesn’t matter.

13. To flush or not to flush? If it’s just a nose-blow, throw it in the trash.

14. Ditch the garbage disposal; try a compost bin.

15. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean off your driveway, sidewalks and garage floor.

16. Drink a lot of water, but only use one glass each day.

17. Thaw food in the fridge—not under running water.

18. Consider a DIY rain garden: lower beds with native plants.

19. Ice on the floor? Your pets won’t care! No pets? Your plants won’t mind, either. Feed it to them instead of the drain!

20. Boiling and steaming veggies can sap some of the nutrients, leaving them in the water instead of your meal. Keep those nutrients for yourself by turning the drained water into the base of a soup.

21. Finally, this won’t affect your wallet but it does affect the earth, consider observing Meatless Mondays. It takes almost eighteen-hundred gallons of water to produce a single pound of beef. If you skip meat every Monday, you’ll conserve 65,000 gallons of water in a year.

Takeaway

These 21 tips not only provide you with ways to conserve water at home, but also allow you to save money, time, and Mother Nature too! By just making a few small changes, you can make a big difference in the long run.

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