Water conservation is fast becoming a priority for many homeowners.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that leaks account for 9,400 gallons of water wasted each year. That’s about the amount of water needed to wash more than 300 loads of laundry.
Whether your reason for conserving water is mandated because of a drought or to combat high utility bills, adopt these simple water-saving measures to dramatically cut your home’s water usage.
Here are the 5 hot spots to tackle.
1. Home Infrastructure and Appliances
To conserve more water in your home, start at the source.
First, check for leaks in the pipes. A visual inspection can quickly reveal any problems that need repairs.
In addition, read your water meter when no water is being used, then look at it again after a few hours to see if the gauge has changed.
Fixing the leak could be as simple as replacing a faucet washer, or you may discover a more serious problem such as an unseen leak in a pipe.
Here’s a win-win solution: Installing foam insulation on hot water pipes saves both water and energy by providing hot water faster and keeping it hot longer. This reduces the water wasted from running the tap to heat it up.
Finally, when replacing appliances like dishwashers or washing machines, look for models that have earned the U.S. government’s Energy Star rating, certifying they use less water and energy.
Plumbing fixtures such as faucets and toilets that carry the Environmental Protection Agency WaterSense label use, on average, 20 percent less water than conventional fixtures.
2. Your Bathrooms
Toilets are the largest users of water in the home — but some of them are more efficient than others. Look on the bottom of the tank lid, or inside the tank wall, to find the date your toilet was manufactured. Toilets made before 1993 use two to three times the water of new ones.
If you have an older model, consider replacing it with a new low-flush or a dual-flush toilet that can use as little as 1 gallon per flush for maximum water conservation.
If replacing a toilet isn’t in your budget, add a few inches of gravel or sand to a plastic soft drink bottle, fill it with water, screw on the cap, and put it in the tank away from the float and flapper. The increased volume from the bottle reduces the amount of water in the tank, so less is used per flush.
If you notice your toilet refilling periodically when it hasn’t been flushed, it’s a sure sign your toilet has a leak. These leaks can waste thousands of gallons of water if not repaired.
A constantly running toilet, weak or incomplete flushing and a slow-filling tank aren’t just frustrating — they can also increase your water usage.
The DIY-friendly kit comes with a toilet fill valve, flush valve with stainless-steel bolts, Tank-To-Bowl Gasket and color-coded tools for the fastest installation possible and, if necessary, a complete tank rebuild. It eliminates the need for extra trips to the store for an unknown part or tool — and that saves time, money and frustration.
To conserve more water, change up your hygiene routine. Reducing time spent in the shower can save 2 to 5 gallons of water per minute, or GPM. Installing a water-saving showerhead will prevent thousands of gallons a year from going down the drain.
To see if you need a new showerhead, put a 5-gallon bucket in the shower and turn on the water. If it fills in less than two minutes, consider replacing the showerhead with a water-saving model that uses two GPM or less.
Finally, leaving the faucet running while you shave or brush your teeth wastes water. Turn the water off while you brush and fill the sink to rinse your razor.
3. The Kitchen
A few changes in the kitchen can significantly cut down your water usage. For instance, thaw frozen food in the refrigerator overnight instead of using a running tap of hot water — it’s not necessary.
When used properly, a dishwasher uses less water than hand-washing. Run your dishwasher only when it’s full and use water-saving settings for more efficiency. Doing this saves the average family nearly 320 gallons of water annually.
If you hand-wash, fill one side of a double sink with soapy water for washing and the other with clean water for rinsing. Letting your faucet run for five minutes while washing dishes can waste 10 gallons of water.
Also, install low-flow aerators on faucets — these reduce water flow to one gallon per minute or less.
Finally, do you drink a lot of tap water? If so, don’t keep the water running until it cools off for drinking. Instead, fill a pitcher or bottle and keep it in the fridge.
4. Your Laundry Room
Washing clothes accounts for the second-largest water use in the home. Put off doing laundry for the sake of water conservation.
Only run the washer with a full load of clothes and use the shortest cycle for lightly soiled clothing. And if you really want to reduce water use, avoid the permanent press cycle, which uses up to 5 gallons more water per load.
While washing clothes in cold water saves energy by reducing water heating, it uses the same amount of water as warm or hot settings.
5. The Yard
Every year, we waste billions of gallons of water to keep our lawns and gardens green. Much of this water is lost due to overwatering, evaporation, poor sprinkler design or lack of maintenance.
Use a drip irrigation system or a soaker hose to reduce water use. These methods deliver water slowly and directly to the plant’s roots, and much less water is lost to evaporation.
If you have a programmable irrigation system, install a rain sensor. It will interrupt the program cycle when it rains, so you won’t overwater your lawn.
Better yet, start at the ground level to keep your water use at a minimum. Choose native and drought-tolerant plants to create a water-smart landscape that’s beautiful and efficient.
Here are some other water conservation options for the yard:
- Sweep driveways, sidewalks and steps rather than hosing them down.
- Wash the car with water from a bucket, or consider using a commercial car wash that recycles water.
- If you have a pool, use a cover to reduce evaporation when it’s not in use.
Following these water-saving tips can reduce household water use by 30 percent or more.
Start simple by changing wasteful habits and fixing leaks, then move up to installing water-saving fixtures and appliances.
Not only will it save money, but you’ll also reduce the needless drain on one of our most precious resources.