Water conservation is not only vital for the environment but also for our finances. Throughout this guide, we will cover a wide range of practical tips that can be easily incorporated into your daily routine. From small changes in your habits to more significant upgrades in your home, every action you take toward water conservation matters.
What Uses the Most Water on Your Bill?
In an average household, the categories that typically consume the most water
are toilets, showers, faucets, and outdoor irrigation.
On average, toilets can use around 1.6 to 3 gallons of water per flush. If your home still has older, less efficient toilets, they can consume up to 5 or even 7 gallons of water per flush. By upgrading to WaterSense-certified toilets, which use 1.28 gallons per flush or less, you can save up to 16,500 gallons of water per year for a family of four.
On average, a standard showerhead releases about 2.5 gallons of water per minute. Assuming an average shower time of 8 minutes, that adds up to 20 gallons of water per shower.
Faucets left running can lead to significant water waste. On average, faucets can release around 2 to 3 gallons of water per minute. For instance, leaving the tap running while brushing your teeth for two minutes can consume approximately 4 to 6 gallons of water.
Outdoor irrigation, particularly for maintaining lawns and gardens, can contribute substantially to your water bill. A traditional sprinkler system
can use around 2 gallons of water per minute. If left running for an hour, it can consume as much as 120 gallons of water. By upgrading to a smart irrigation system
with weather-based controllers and adjusting watering schedules based on the specific needs of your plants, you can reduce outdoor water usage by up to 50% or more.
Turn off the Tap
Did you know that a running faucet can waste a surprising amount of water?
When washing dishes, it's common for people to leave the tap running continuously. However, this practice can lead to substantial water waste. In fact, washing dishes by hand with the tap running continuously can use up to 27 gallons of water, while using the "stop-and-start" method can reduce water usage to as little as 2-3 gallons.
Similarly, when lathering your hands during handwashing, it's unnecessary to let the water run continuously. Turning off the tap
while scrubbing your hands and only turning it back on for rinsing can save a considerable amount of water.
Take Shorter Showers
Taking shorter showers is a powerful way to conserve water and reduce your water bill.
Consider setting a timer or using a shower playlist to keep track of time and help you stay within a reasonable duration. Aim for showers that last around 5-10 minutes to maximize water savings.
Another technique is to explore "navy showers," where you turn the water off while you soap up and then turn it back on for rinsing. It may take some adjustment, but it becomes easier over time, and the water savings
are worth it.
Finally, consider capturing excess water while waiting for the shower to warm up. Collect this water in a bucket or container and repurpose it for tasks like watering plants or cleaning. This way, you can maximize water usage and minimize waste.
Detect and Repair Leak
Faucets, toilets, and irrigation systems
are common culprits when it comes to water leaks. A dripping faucet can waste hundreds of gallons of water per year, while a leaking toilet can go unnoticed and result in thousands of gallons of water wasted annually. Even small leaks can add up over time, significantly impacting your water bill and the environment.
To detect leaks in your home, start by checking faucets and pipes for visible signs of leakage, such as dripping or pooling water. Additionally, keep an eye out for any unusual water spots, dampness, or discoloration on walls, floors, or ceilings, as these may indicate hidden leaks.
For toilets, a simple way to check for leaks is to place a few drops of food coloring in the tank and wait for about 15 minutes without flushing. If the colored water seeps into the toilet bowl, you likely have a leak that needs to be addressed.
If you suspect an irrigation system
leak, turn off all water sources and observe the system for any visible leaks or areas where water is pooling or spraying excessively. Unusually lush or soggy patches in your lawn may also indicate a leak in the irrigation system.
Once you have identified a leak, it's important to take immediate action to repair it. Remember, the longer a leak goes unaddressed, the more water and money you'll be wasting.
Only Run Full Loads
Making a simple change to wait for full loads may require a slight adjustment to your routine, but the water and energy savings are worth it.
Let's start with the dishwasher. On average, a standard dishwasher uses around 6 to 16 gallons of water per cycle. When you run the dishwasher with only a few items, you're using the same amount of water as a full load, but for significantly fewer dishes.
Similarly, laundry machines
typically consume around 15 to 30 gallons of water per load. By waiting to do your laundry until you have a full load, you can make the most efficient use of water and energy. Not only does this conserve resources, but it also reduces the number of cycles needed, leading to savings in both water and electricity bills.
So, next time you're tempted to run a half-empty dishwasher or laundry machine, remember the benefits of waiting for a full load. Your wallet, the environment, and your appliances will thank you.
Upgrade to Water-Saving Fixtures
Upgrading to water-saving fixtures in your home is an effective way to conserve water and reduce your water bill.
Older models can consume as much as 3 to 7 gallons of water per flush, while modern low-flow toilets use around 1.28 gallons or less. This upgrade alone can result in water savings of up to 20% to 60% per toilet.
These faucets mix air with the water flow, creating a steady stream while reducing water usage. On average, aerated faucets can save about 30% or more water compared to standard faucets.
Standard showerheads release approximately 2.5 gallons of water per minute. In contrast, efficient showerheads can reduce the flow rate to 1.5 gallons per minute or less. This can lead to water savings of 20% to 40% or more with each shower. Additionally, these showerheads often come with features like adjustable spray patterns and pause buttons, allowing you to further customize your shower experience while conserving water.
When considering upgrades, look for fixtures with the WaterSense label
. WaterSense is a program sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that certifies water-saving products. Choosing WaterSense-certified fixtures ensures that you're selecting high-quality, water-efficient options that meet rigorous performance standards.
Replace Inefficient Appliances
Older washing machines and dishwashers can consume a substantial amount of water per cycle, especially if they lack water-saving features.
In contrast, modern washing machines with the Energy Star label can use as little as 13 gallons of water per load. Similarly, high-efficiency dishwashers typically consume around 3 to 5 gallons of water per cycle, representing a significant reduction in water usage compared to older models.
When considering replacements, look for appliances that are Energy Star
certified. Energy Star appliances meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and can deliver substantial water savings while maintaining high-performance standards.
Compost More, Dispose Less
Instead of relying solely on garbage disposal for your organic waste, consider composting as a sustainable alternative. Consider starting a compost bin or pile in your backyard or explore community composting options.
is a natural process that converts organic materials, such as fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and yard waste, into nutrient-rich compost. Compost can be used as a natural soil amendment, increasing its ability to retain moisture and reducing the need for excessive watering.
On the other hand, when organic waste is disposed of in a garbage disposal, it requires large amounts of water to break down and flush the waste. So, instead of sending these materials down to the garbage disposal, composting allows you to reuse and recycle them in an environmentally friendly manner.
Collect the Rain
allows you to capture and store water that would otherwise runoff and potentially go to waste. Instead of relying solely on municipal water supplies for irrigation, you can supplement it with rainwater. This reduces the strain on local water sources, especially during dry periods or water restrictions, and promotes responsible water usage.
To collect rainwater, you can install rain barrels or cisterns around your property. Rain barrels are typically smaller and can be easily installed under downspouts, while cisterns offer larger storage capacity and are ideal for properties with more significant water needs. The collected water can then be used for watering plants, washing outdoor areas, or even flushing toilets, depending on the size of the storage system.
Reuse and Recycle
refers to water from sources like sinks, showers, and laundry machines that can be reused for non-potable purposes. Instead of letting this water go down the drain, it can be collected and repurposed for activities like watering plants, cleaning outdoor areas, or flushing toilets.
Implementing water recycling practices in your daily activities is equally important. Simple steps like turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, using a basin to capture water while washing dishes, or reusing cooking water for watering plants can go a long way in conserving water.
Improve Your Irrigation
One of the main goals of improving your irrigation practices is to avoid overwatering
. Many homeowners tend to use more water than necessary, leading to water waste and higher water bills.
Implementing smart irrigation controllers
can greatly improve your watering practices. These devices use weather data and sensor technology to adjust watering schedules based on actual conditions. Smart controllers can detect rainfall, temperature, and soil moisture levels, ensuring that watering is only done when necessary. By investing in a smart irrigation controller
, you can save water and achieve more accurate and efficient irrigation.
Use Drought-Tolerant Landscaping
are species that have adapted to survive in arid or dry conditions with minimal water requirements. By incorporating these plants into your landscape, you can significantly reduce your irrigation needs and conserve water.
To further minimize water needs, incorporate water-efficient practices
such as grouping plants with similar water requirements together. This allows you to provide targeted irrigation to specific areas without overwatering
others. Mulching around plants with organic materials like wood chips or compost helps retain soil moisture, reduces weed growth, and insulates the roots from temperature extremes.
This approach not only conserves water but also reduces the time, effort, and resources required for landscape maintenance.
Cover the Pool
Make it a habit to cover your pool when it's not in use, whether it's for a few hours or during extended periods of cooler weather. In fact, studies have shown that a pool cover can reduce water evaporation by up to 95%, resulting in substantial water savings over time.
Furthermore, pool covers provide a protective layer that prevents debris, leaves, and other unwanted materials from entering your pool. This reduces the time and effort spent on cleaning and maintenance, allowing you to enjoy a cleaner and more inviting swimming environment.
Additional Water-Saving Tips for Summer
During the summer, outdoor water usage tends to increase, particularly for activities like filling up pools and running sprinklers. To conserve water, be mindful of your outdoor water usage and find ways to minimize waste.
Limit Outdoor Water Use
Consider using a bucket and sponge for car cleaning and sweeping for driveways to minimize water waste.
Use a Broom for Outdoor Cleaning
Rather than using water to clean outdoor areas like patios or decks, use a broom or a leaf blower to remove debris. This avoids unnecessary water usage.
Group Plants with Similar Water Needs
Create water-efficient zones in your garden by grouping plants with similar water requirements together. This allows for more targeted watering and avoids overwatering certain plants.
Practice Smart Lawn Care
Raise the cutting height of your lawnmower during the summer to encourage deeper root growth and improve water retention in the soil. Longer grass shades the soil, reducing evaporation.