12 Ways To Conserve Water At Home
Even though most regions of New York State are fortunate to have a steady, clean water supply, other areas in the western United States often find themselves in a severe drought. However, regardless of where you live in the country, we should all be concerned with water consumption as a whole.
Agriculture and business account for a large portion of U.S. water consumption, but residential usage is significant as well. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that the average American family of four uses about 400 gallons of water a day. Fortunately, with awareness and a little effort on our parts, we can all take steps to limit the amount of water we use. Here are 12 tips for reducing water consumption at home.
Turn Off Faucets
Bathroom faucets run at about two gallons of water a minute. By simply turning off the tap while you’re brushing your teeth, shaving, and washing you can literally save hundreds of gallons a month!
Slow leaks from faucets, toilets, and other plumbing fixtures can waste as much as 20 to 200 gallons of water a day. If you notice a leak, act immediately to repair the problem.
Use every drop of water you can. As an example, when you rinse produce in a colander, you can collect the fall-through and use it to water plants in the garden.
Say No to Sprinklers
Automated sprinklers waste a substantial amount of water. Try manually watering your garden and lawn with a hose. (This will also help to prevent overwatering after heavy rain). According to the EPA, households that manually water their outdoor green spaces generally, use 33% less water outdoors than those using an automatic irrigation system.
Get Smart About Irrigation
Speaking of watering the garden, consider investing in weather-based irrigation controllers that adjust to real weather conditions and provide water only when needed. Additionally, older mist-style sprinkler heads can be replaced with rotator sprinkler heads, which shoot streams of water at a slower rate. This increases penetration and eliminates drift. You can go a step further and install new drip irrigation piping and soaker hoses for even more improved watering efficiency.
Using a 55-gallon drum, you can catch and store rainwater from gutters and downspouts for later use in the garden. Remember to cover your barrels to keep out mosquitoes.
Dip Your Dishes
Installing a double sink is a great way of breaking the habit of letting the water run while you wash dishes. Instead, fill one sink with hot, soapy water for washing, and the other with cool, clear water for rinsing. If a new sink installation is out of your budget, you can simply employ the use of two large bowls in a single sink. According to the EPA, dipping your dishes will keep you from using half the water you otherwise would.
Dishwasher Do’s and Don’ts
Getting a smaller dishwasher will naturally prevent you from using excess water. There are plenty of small, modern, high-efficiency dishwashers on the market today, some with multiple drawers that use less than 2 gallons of water each. You should also run only full loads. (It’s also recommended that you scrape dishes before loading instead of rinsing; by taking this small measure, you’ll save up to 10 gallons per load!)
Did you know the average American family washes approximately 300 loads of laundry per year? In fact, washing clothes account for more than 20% of water use inside the home. That said, as with your dishwasher, consider buying a high-efficiency appliance. Front-loading washing machines use less water than top-loading machines. In either case, however, look for one that is Energy Star-certified. Appliances with this label use about 40% less water than their regular counterparts. And again, wait until you have a full load to run your machine. If you must run smaller loads, be sure to change the water settings on your appliance to account for it.
Go With the Low-Flow
It’ll come as no surprise that the area of greatest water use inside a home is the bathroom. With smart choices, however, you can save big.
A standard toilet accounts for nearly 30% of an average home’s indoor water consumption and uses as much as six gallons per flush. Consider replacing with a low-flow model that is EPA WaterSense-certified. These toilets use just 1.28 to 1.6 gallons of water per flush, and dual-flush toilets (which allow for different water amounts for liquid waste and solid waste) use even less water.
Showering is the next big culprit of high water consumption, accounting for almost 17% of household indoor water use. That’s forty gallons a day for the average family of four. Consider replacing your standard showerhead, which uses 2.5 gallons per minute, with a WaterSense-certified unit, which uses two gallons a minute or less.
Shorten Your Showers
While we’re on the subject of showers, try shortening them to use less water. Aim for five minutes or less and use a kitchen timer to keep you on track.
Filled pools will evaporate, but the simple act of using a pool cover will retain a heated pool’s temperature, and as a result, cut the amount of replacement water needed by 30-50%, according to the Department of Energy.