The average American uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water each day. What’s more, if every American household simply reduced water usage by 1/3, we could save millions of dollars each day and more than 5 billion gallons of water per year. The good news is that we can save water by making some simple, painless adjustments. And in a world where so many people now rely on unclean water for survival, we have a moral obligation to conserve water. Here are some tips for saving water.
- Repair water leaks. A great many homes lose water to leaks, because a house provides many opportunities for leaks to form.
- How can you determine whether you have leaks? Turn off all water-use in your house for a couple hours. Check your water meter at the beginning and see if it has moved at the end. If it moves, you have a leak that must be repaired.
- Leaky toilets. They do exist. Add some food dye to your toilet water tank and then don’t use it for a couple hours. If the color becomes lighter, you have a leak.
- Dripping faucets. They’re a constant distraction, right? Beyond that, they can waste up to 20 gallons of water per day! Fix ‘em once and for all.
- Water down the drain is totally wasted. So you just steamed some vegetables and you have leftover water? Instead of throwing it down the drain, use it to water plants! Even though it’s way too hot to water immediately, you can set it aside to cool down. And that’s just one small example of how you can use what we might otherwise call “Waste water.” If you collect the runoff from your gutters during a rainstorm, that water can be used to nourish your garden as well.
- Fill your garden with plants suitable for your environment. Flowers, shrubs, grasses and trees that don’t survive independent of your constant care are environmentally unfriendly plants. If you want to conserve water, buy plants that thrive on the natural environmental conditions of your area.
- Water plants and lawn only in the coldest times of day. That way, you can get away with watering less, because less water will be lost to evaporation from the sun’s heat. It’s better for your plants anyway.
- Mulch. Mulch locks more moisture in the ground, protecting it further from evaporation and allowing you to save water.
- Turn faucets and showers on only when you need to rinse. Most people consider a five minute shower to be quite economical, but a shower that runs constantly for five minutes uses up anywhere from 25 to 50 gallons of water! A constantly running shower actually creates a slight obstacle to your lathering anyway; there’s no reason to keep water running constantly during a shower. Even a running faucet can use about 3 gallons per minute. Turn the water on only at the moment you need it, and turn it off immediately afterward.
- Get a low-flow showerhead and toilet. If you can’t afford a low-flow toilet, fill a couple of plastic bottles and but them inside your toilet water tank.
- Stop using your toilet as a trashcan for undesirable objects. Many people toss cigarettes into their toilets. While this might prevent waste-basket fires, an ashtray does the same thing without using water. Insects, tissues and other items should go into the trash, not the toilet (unless you don’t mind them floating around in there for quite a while).
- If it’s yellow, let it mellow… We’ve all seen urine before; it’s neither shocking nor appalling. It doesn’t smell much, especially if you keep the toilet lid down. And any brief, faint smell is tolerable when you consider how much water you save simply by reducing your toilet flushes per day. Next time you encounter a public toilet filled with urine, rather than silently cursing the person who used it before you, thank that person for conserving water. If we all simply cut our flushes in half, we’d save a mind-boggling amount of perfectly potable water in a world where the substance is becoming increasingly scarce. And you don’t even have to expel any more energy to save water this way. In fact, you might save yourself a few calories of precious energy per year by not bending down to flush so much!
- Make your dishwasher and laundry loads as full as possible. Instead of running many meager loads, with a little planning you can run fewer, larger loads, thereby saving lots of water through very little effort.
- Invest in a water pitcher. Many of us already have water filtering pitchers that we store in the refrigerator. If you don’t have such a device, now would be a great time to buy one. Why? When we want cool drinking water, we let the tap run until it’s cold enough for us, but until that point we’re wasting water down the drain. If you have that water pitcher and plan ahead, all of that otherwise wasted water can be enjoyed cold!
- Soak vegetables and fruit, rather than rinsing under a running faucet.
- Don’t hose down concrete. If you need to clean it, use a broom and some good ol’ elbow-grease instead of water power.
- Buy a nozzle for your hose. That way, the water won’t run unless you absolutely need it.
Many of these adjustments in our routine cost nothing at all. Some of the modifications and repairs may cost a little bit of money. But wasted water cost us all money as well, and money may be the least of our concerns in the future if we continue to use water at our current rate. Let’s all do what we can to save water.