Save Water at Home—It’s Good for the Environment
Serious environmentalists have money to invest in expensive water-saving devices to protect the planet. However, the average family has little to spend on fancy tools, but they still want to help the environment.
Each person uses 80-100 gallons of water a day, a consumption level that is not sustainable in the long-term. There are however a number of easy ways to save water.
Water is not only essential for life – all life – on Earth, but it is also a more precious resource than we know.
Despite the fact that oceans cover more than 70% of the world, the majority of our water – 97.5 percent – is salt water, and more than two-thirds of fresh water is locked up as ice. Furthermore, as the global population grows, agriculture and industry develop, and the environment changes, water shortages in various parts of the world become more frequent and extreme.
Nonetheless, we (U.S) in the world’s richest countries continue to consume – and waste – vast amounts of water. What can we do to change this? By doing all we can to realize that every drop of fresh water is too precious to take for granted, and behaving accordingly.
The good news is that water conservation is easy and inexpensive to implement. With several small changes, household members can drastically reduce waste, and even take positive steps towards recycling this valuable liquid.
Saving water at home is not only easy, but it can save you hundreds of dollars on your water bill per year. Water savings can be realized by being mindful of how you use water both indoors and outdoors.
At a Quick Glance Water Conservation Tips
Save Water Indoors
- Remember how much of the planet still gets its water. Water is easy to waste because it is so easy to obtain: simply turn on a faucet and there you have it: fresh, clean water at your disposal. However, more than a billion people on this planet do not have access to safe drinking water, and many others must walk for miles every day to get the water they and their families need.
- Choose “natural” foods over processed foods for the same purpose. The more refined the foods you consume, the more water is needed to produce those foods.
- Install faucet aerators. Faucet aerators are cheap and easy to install, and can quickly improve the water efficiency of your faucet. Faucet aerators come in flows rates as low as 1 gallon per minute, versus the standard 2.5 gallons per minute, which cuts your water use by more than 50% while still providing a good water stream. Here is a step by step guide on how to install them.
- Check for leaky faucets and toilets. Leaky faucets and toilets are big water wasters, yet they can be very easy to fix. If you are not sure if your toilet is leaking, add food coloring or a dye tablet into the water in the back tank. After waiting for 15 or so minutes, check to see if you see any of the dye color in the toilet bowl. If you do, it means your toilet flapper is leaking, wasting thousands of gallons a year. *Note: Does your toilet only leak at night? Many toilets really do run only at night; that’s because people use much less water during these hours and in many municipal water systems, the water pressure rises considerably during this time. It is not uncommon for system water pressure to rise by 15 to 20 pounds per square inch (psi), and by as much as 30 psi in some situations. This rise in pressure could cause “water creep” inside your gravity-fed tank by 1/2 inch or more.Quick fix: Adjust the float in your toilet tank so that the water level is lower. This will prevent the added water pressure from causing water overflow into the bowl.
- If you have an old toilet that you don’t want to replace, which uses 3 gallons per flush or more, install a toilet bag. Toilet bags, like the Toilet Tank, offset water inside the tank, reducing the amount of water used per flush.
- install a water displacement device (or ‘hippo’) in the cistern of a higher flush toilet – these reduce the amount of water used for each flush by one or two liters
- fit a variable flushing device to existing higher flush toilets – this will give you a choice of flush volumes to help save water
- When buying a new toilet, choose a water-saving, low-flush or dual-flush version
- Leaving a tap running while cleaning one’s teeth, or washing fruit and vegetables can waste about 2 gallons of water a minute. Here are some ways to cut down on wastage:
- save the cold water that comes through before a tap runs hot, and use it to water plants
- keep a jug of water in the fridge instead of waiting for the tap to run cold
- turn off the taps when you’re brushing your teeth or shaving
- wash fruit and vegetables in a washing-up bowl full of water instead of under a running tap
- When brushing your teeth or shaving, turn off the water.
- Showers are preferable to baths, and showers should be brief.
- Shorten your showers by using a shower timer. Even a one or two minute reduction can save up to 700 gallons per month.
- Purchase water-saving appliances. An aerator attachment for your kitchen faucet will help you save water, while ShowerStart holds the flow to a trickle until the water is hot enough for you to step into the shower.
- Don’t defrost food using running water. Defrost foods overnight in the refrigerator or use the microwave.
- When using your dishwasher or washing machine, make sure the loads are full.
- Run the dishwasher only when full (2-4.5 gallons per load)
- Run only full loads of laundry (15-50 gallons per load)
Save Water Outdoors
- Pouring “leftover” water down the drain is not a good idea. Water houseplants with any leftover water or melted ice from your drinks. Do the same with leftover pasta and vegetable cooking water… after it has cooled, of course.
- Water only before 6 a.m. and after 8 p.m. to reduce evaporation and water loss from wind.
- Plat regional or drought-resistant plants. Whether you are putting in a new landscape or slowly changing the current landscaping at your home, select plants that are appropriate for your local climate conditions. Having a yard with 100% lawn or turf area in a dry desert climate uses significant amounts of water. It takes 55 inches of water per year to keep grass green, yet in drier southwestern US climates, the average annual rainfall is 10 inches or less.
- Use a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways. Saves 150 gallons each time.
- Don’t leave the hose running while washing your car. Use an automatic shut-off nozzle. Saves 150 gallons each time.
- Reduce irrigation time by 1-3 minutes, or eliminate one irrigation cycle per week. Watering every day is usually not necessary. Step on your grass. If it springs back when you lift your foot, it doesn’t need water. Saves 750-1,500 gallons per month!
- Have a pools and/or a spa? Use an insulated cover to cut down on evaporation. Covers on spas also keep the heat in, reducing the energy cost of re-heating the water to a toast 102 degrees.
- Use mulch in your flowerbeds and exposed ground. There are many different types of mulch, from wood chips, to rock, to other types of organic materials. It can be purchased cheaply and sometimes can be obtained for free. Mulch reduces water evaporation from the soil, keeping it moist for your plants and flowers, allowing you to water less frequently.
- Be vigilant about adjusting your sprinklers so that you are watering your grass or landscape, NOT the sidewalk. Saves 500 gallons per month.
- Get a rain barrel if you can and use it to collect water for landscaping and other outdoor uses.
Everyone knows the easy rules: turn off the faucet while brushing their teeth, and take shorter showers. But there are many steps to make water conservation easy without affecting a family’s standard of living.
Pouring Water Down the Drain
As water is literally poured down the drain, money goes down with it. Homeowners should check their plumbing for leaks, and fix them if necessary.
- To test a toilet for leakage, place a few drops of food coloring in the tank. After an hour, check the basin. If the color has bled into the basin, then there is a leak. Simple fixes include changing the plug at the bottom of the tank. Savvy fix-it-uppers or a plumber can solve this problem easily.
- Faucets are notorious money wasters. Check around the base of the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room faucets regularly. If there are any leaks, stop by the local hardware store and purchase a washer. A few cents spend on a washer can save big money later.
- Aerators are another big way to save big bucks. Local home improvement stores sell aerators that attach to the bottom of each faucet’s nozzle. The water will still comfortably spray from the faucet, but less will be used.
Every home has daily chores that included washing clothes and doing the dishes. When doing these chores, families should be as efficient as possible.
- Make every load of laundry count. When running the dishwasher or the washing machine, families should make sure that the entire load is full. Running a half load is wasteful.
- If there is only enough laundry to run a half load, then place the setting on “small.” The machine will not fill up as high as a full load.
- The dishwasher should do all the work. Many families rinse their dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. This is not only a waste of water, but it’s a waste of effort as well. Scrape the plates into the trash can, and then let the dishwasher do the washing.
Quick Fixes Outside the House
Landscape watering affects a large portion of the average utility bill. Making small changes to landscaping practices can help families conserve water.
- Irrigation systems do pay off. Many homeowners are reluctant to invest in an irrigation system, since they are afraid that it will waste water. However, a quality irrigation contractor will be willing to install water management devices. These handy tools track the moisture and/or weather conditions, and only water when necessary.
- Timers are also effective. Families who rely on sprinklers should always use a timer to remind them when it’s time to turn the valve off. It’s very easy to forget that a sprinkler is on. Then the water simply runs off the lawn and down the nearest drain.
- Mulch is a practical tool. Gardeners love mulch; it provides protection for plants, and retains moisture. Invest in mulch each year, and plants will use their water more efficiently.
Recycling is the Key
Recycling generally brings up thoughts of aluminum cans and cardboard boxes. But recycling can help with water conservation efforts too.
- Gray water recycling is easy and free. This resource is generally clean water that should not be used for drinking. For example, ice cubes that fall on the floor can be melted and used as gray water. Water used to rinse or boil vegetables is also considered gray water. Instead of tossing these leftover liquids down the sink, toss them out the window to water the bushes outside.
- Reclaimed water is also easy to collect. This resource is clean water that has not been used for anything else, but is generally wasted. For example, when as the shower heats up, several gallons are wasted as they run down the drain. Simply place a bucket in the shower and save the water for a later use. This liquid should be used for flushing the toilet or tossing out the window.
Every citizen should be concerned about saving the natural resources. Water is particular important, as human survival is directly related to its existence. By making a few small lifestyle changes, each family on our planet can make a difference in water conservation.