Anywhere you regularly use water, there’s a good chance there’s something you can do to reduce your use. And there are three areas of the home you can make changes with the most impact: the bathroom, the kitchen and the garden.
If you’re looking for small ways you can save money and help the environment, put these tips into practice.
In the Bathroom
Be a faucet hawk! Run the water only when absolutely necessary. That means turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth, and put the stopper in the sink or use a bowl when you shave.
Go low-flow. While the early versions of low-flow shower heads left much to be desired, newer state-of-the-art versions offer a satisfying shower experience at a fraction of the flow rate. Even better, this is almost always a DIY upgrade that requires only a few basic tools. You can also replace your bathroom sink faucet with a low-flow model.
More showers, fewer baths. Filling the bathtub usually requires about 30 gallons of water, compared to about 25 gallons for a ten-minute shower with a standard shower head. If you’re using a low-flow shower head, a ten-minute shower will use closer to 20 gallons.
Test for toilet leaks. Your toilet tank might be leaking into the bowl without your knowledge; over time, this can add up to major water waste. Try this test: put a few drops of food coloring into the toilet tank, then wait an hour. If you see the color seeping into the bowl, you have a leak. Fortunately, this is also another simple DIY fix.
In the Kitchen
Use the dishwasher. Washing dishes by hand not only takes more effort, it takes more water! Just be sure to wait until you have a full load to start the cycle.
Upgrade to a water-smart dishwasher. If it’s nearly time to replace your existing model, shop with water efficiency in mind. You can choose one that is also energy efficient to save even more money on each cycle.
Favor the garbage can, not the garbage disposal. The disposal can be a great tool for certain smelly items you want to get rid of immediately, but it requires water to work. If it can go in the trash or compost, put it there and save the water.
Go low-flow again with a new faucet for the kitchen sink!
In the Garden
Use recycled water to water your plants. You can easily salvage a bucket of water per day by placing an empty bucket in the shower with you. You can save even more by setting up a rain barrel beneath your downspout. Even water used to rinse and boil vegetables can be returned to the soil.
Xeriscape. Choose plants that are native to your region so you can water less frequently.
Lock moisture into your soil by planting groundcover around thirsty plants and spreading mulch.
Looking for even more ways to save water? Call your local plumber and request an energy use audit.