Reducing household water usage has big-time benefits for both homeowners and for the environment: reducing strain on local water resources, cutting demand on wastewater treatment facilities, and lowering both water and sewage utility bills, to name a few. Although this is by no means an exhaustive list, we’ve put together a collection of water-saving tips and products that can help you save money and reduce your environmental footprint.
Best of all, these don’t require major sacrifices or lifestyle changes, they’re just adjustments that make a big difference – sort of the water conservation equivalent of “working smart instead of working hard”.
Check your fixtures and pipes. Give your household plumbing a good look. Do you see any leaks, even just tiny drips when a faucet is turned on? All those drops add up. A leaky faucet washer can waste tens of gallons of water per day, so why pay for all that water you aren’t using? Plus, by sealing the leak, you’ll avoid the maintenance nightmare of repairing water damage if the little drip turns into a raging flow.
Check your meter. Take a look at your water meter before you leave home to run your errands, then check it a couple hours later when you return (and you know there has been no water use.) If you see any change on the meter, there’s a leak somewhere. Find it and fix it.
Next Stop: The Kitchen
Reuse kitchen water. Instead of wasting it down the drain, use a pail to collect the water you use for rinsing vegetables or cooking foods like pasta or potatoes. The added nutrients make it great for watering a garden.
Don’t let the water run… and run… Of course, this is good advice in the bathroom too, but it’s especially easy to waste water in the kitchen. Make the effort to turn off the faucet when you don’t need it, even for a couple seconds – the water savings will add up quickly. A faucet pedal makes it even easier to regulate water use when your hands are full. One of our favorites is the Pedal Works Hands-Free Faucet Controller ($349 at Amazon)
Use the dishwasher. This is an indulgence you can feel good about. A modern, energy-star rated dishwasher loaded to capacity will use less water and energy than hand washing in the sink. And you can generally skip the pre-rinse, further reducing water use.
Bosch is an industry leader when it comes to efficient dishwashers. The Bosch SHX68E Evolution 800 Plus is extraordinarily energy efficient, and uses just 1.56 gallons of water per cycle. Fair enough, this is the Rolls Royce of dishwashers ($1,732.56 at Amazon) but all major manufacturers now offer their own energy star models.
If you must wash by hand, don’t let the water run constantly. Fill the sink with soapy water, wash the dishes, then refill with rinse water.
Sorry, baths. Despite the very name of the room, baths are a killer when it comes to household water conservation. Showers use a fraction of the water compared to baths, so avoid the full-on tub soaking whenever possible.
Go low-flow. New low-flow showerheads match the performance of older, wasteful designs, while drastically cutting water consumption. One of the best is the Delta Water Amplifying Low-Flow Showerhead ($29.98 at Amazon), which uses just 1.85 gallons per minute in its low-flow mode, yet maintains impressive water pressure for rinsing.
Shower smart. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get distracted in the shower, what with all the singing and pondering the mysteries of the universe. But try to keep it short – reducing a shower by just two minutes can easily save 100 gallons of water each month.
A nifty little gadget to help you avoid wasting water by being aware of how much you’re using is the Water Pebble, designed by Paul Priestman. The Water Pebble is placed in a sink or shower, and uses green, yellow, and red indicator lights to give a quick visual reference of how much water is being used. Learn more at the Priestman Goode Design website.
And While We’re Talking Bathrooms… Low-flow toilets are good, but toilets with a dual-flush option are even better. One of the best is the Caroma Caravelle ($369 at Amazon) which performs just as well as many older high-flow designs but uses only 0.8 gallons per flush for liquids, or 1.6 gallons for solids – which can translate into annual utility savings of $100 in water-restricted areas.
Finally, don’t use the toilet as a trash can. Even with a low-flow design, flushing a tissue or a cigarette butt is an unnecessary waste of water.
Bring The Rain Indoors
Rainwater is great for watering indoor plants. It’s free, and it’s actually better for your plants than using municipal water from the faucet. Rainwater contains no chlorine, and its ambient temperature is easier for plants to tolerate than cold tap water. The OXO Good Grips Pour & Store watering can ($15.50 at Amazon) is great for indoor use, thanks to its ergonomic design and compact folding spout.
Do you have other suggestions for simple ways to cut household water consumption? Leave a comment below and let us know!