Many people think that conserving water requires a significant investment. They might think about installing new ENERGY STAR–rated appliances, using rain barrels, or buying new on-demand tankless water heaters. While all these options represent great ways to reduce water consumption (and they often save you a lot of money over time), you can also employ small, simple strategies to conserve your water usage.
How Much Water Do You Use?
The average household uses 130,000 gallons (492,103 litres) of water each year. Most people use 75% of their water in the bathroom (and 25% of that use is just the toilet!).
If you use these water conservation tips, you can save as much as 35% of your total water consumption each year. That adds up to about 45,500 gallons (172,236 litres) each year. That's a lot of water.
Small, Household Changes You Can Make
Try a few of these easy changes to save water in your home.
Prevent drips in toilets, sinks and appliances by replacing broken or worn parts. A leaking sink or toilet can waste as much as 15 gallons (57 litres) of water each day. In a year, that adds up to 5,475 gallons (20,725 litres). You can check your toilet for leaks by putting a few drops of food colouring in your toilet tank. If the colour appears in the toilet bowl within 30 minutes, you have a leak.
If you have a water meter, check it for leaks. Check it at a certain time during the day, and then wait two hours without using any water. If the reading is different the second time, you have a leak in your home.
Install low-flow aerator faucets. You can put them in showerheads, faucets, toilets, and taps. In toilets, a low-flow aerator can reduce water loss by 30% per flush. In sinks, they reduce water flow by 1 ½ gallons (5.7 litres) per minute.
Wait to run your dishwasher or washing machine until they're completely full. You should also avoid pre-rinsing your dishes (most dishwashing liquids work without pre-rinsing anyway). With your dishwasher, you should avoid using the permanent press cycle. The extra rinse uses five more gallons (19 litres) of water than a normal cycle.
Replace old clothes washers. ENERGY STAR–rated washers use 35–50% less water than older washers. They also use up to 50% less energy, which can save you hundreds of dollars a year on utilities bills.
Turn off the faucet when you're not using the water, especially while you're shaving, washing your hands, brushing your teeth, washing dishes or rinsing vegetables. Instead, only turn the water on when you need it. You can also fill a bowl with water and use it to rinse off your razor or vegetables. For dishes, fill up one bowl with soapy water and another bowl with rinse water. You save three gallons of water every minute you turn off your faucet.
Don't use the toilet as a trash can. Every time you flush a small piece of trash, you waste between five and seven gallons of water.
Take shorter showers. Every minute you stand in the shower, you use between five and seven gallons of water. To limit water waste, shower quickly, only taking the time to apply soap, wash and rinse off.
Insulate your water pipes with pre-slit foam insulation. You won't have to wait as long for hot water, because the water will heat up faster.
Install "low flush" toilets. Although the investment may cost more to start with, these toilets use only 1–2 gallons per flush. Normal toilets use 3–5 gallons per flush. It can cut your water use by as much as 30%.
Avoid using the garbage disposal in your sink. Disposals require you to flush the unit with water in order to work properly. They also increase the amount of solids in your pipes. Instead of wasting water and possibly causing buildup in your pipes, throw away solid food or start a compost pile.
Keep a bottle of water in the fridge for drinking water. Instead of letting the tap run to cool off water, keep a large bottle in the fridge. The fridge will cool off your water for you.
Start Conserving Water Today
Since most of these tips don't cost you anything, you can start today. And you can take comfort knowing you're making the socially and environmentally responsible choice. For every gallon of water you save, that gallon doesn't have to be cycled through your city's waterways. That saves you and your city time, energy and money—not to mention the strain on the sewer system.
Many people feel like they can't make a difference on their own. But think about it. Over the course of a year, you and your family can save 45,500 gallons of water. That's more than two swimming pools. And that's a lot of water. Do your part and start conserving water today.