10 ways to conserve water at home

March 22, 2018 — Written by Suchi Rudra

How much of your daily routine requires water? Think about it—teeth brushing, showering, making coffee, cooking dinner, watering plants, doing laundry.

But water is a finite resource and many households are starting to feel the pinch.

March 22 has been designated World Water Day by the United Nations, and there’s no better time to consider how much of this precious resource we consume, and how we can conserve more.

Lack of fresh water resources

While 70 percent of the planet is covered in water, less than 1 percent of it is accessible freshwater, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Factors like pollution and global warming have created water scarcity problems, like the drying up of Lake Meade in Arizona and parts of the Colorado River, both of which supply water to millions of Americans.

Population growth also means more people are tapping into dwindling water supplies. And beyond turning on the faucet, you also consume water in less obvious ways. It takes between 25 to 60 gallons to generate enough electricity to power a 100-watt lightbulb for 10 hours, the EPA says, for example.

But making an effort to conserve water at home each day does have an impact, especially because the U.S. is the world’s biggest consumer of water. The average American uses between 80 to 100 gallons of water each day, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, compared to about 5 gallons a day consumed by an entire family in Africa, as noted by the African Wildlife Foundation.

Tips for daily water-saving practices

Here are 10 simple steps that can help reduce your daily water consumption and waste:

      1. Curtail your shower by setting a timer for five minutes or less, and install a low-flow shower head or smart shower system. Every minute in the shower with a conventional shower head consumes around five gallons of water. Place a small bucket in the shower to collect water while it heats up, and use this water for your indoor plants.
      2. Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth, cleansing your face, soaping up your hands or shaving. This small act can save between 10 to 20 gallons of water per day. Investing in a touchless faucet can help.
      3. Run the dishwasher only when full. If there’s an eco cycle, use it. If you wash dishes by hand, plug and fill the sink with warm, soapy water. Run the faucet only to rinse.
      4. Fix leaky faucets. Each year in the U.S., household leaks waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water, the EPA notes, enough to supply the annual water needs of every home in Texas. Eliminating leaks can shave about 10 percent off your water bill.
      5. Invest in water-efficient appliances, like dual-flush toilets, a smart sprinkler system and an eco-friendly washing machine. Look for products with the EPA’s WaterSense label.
      6. ways to conserve water at home water usagesRecent studies show that indoor water use in the U.S. is the highest in the bathroom, followed by the laundry room.

      7. Turn off lights when you leave a room and unplug chargers when they’re not in use. Water is used in the process of electricity generation, so unnecessary consumption of electricity also wastes water.
      8. Use biodegradable cleaning products, including soap, shampoo, laundry detergent and household cleaners. When you wash your clothes or clean your tub, that waste water full of chemicals eventually flows into streams, rivers, lakes and oceans. You can make your own household cleaners with non-toxic household ingredients like baking soda, white vinegar or lemon juice, borax and soap.
      9. Recycle and reuse whenever possible. Products from t-shirts to laptops consume gallons of water during the manufacturing process. Extending the life of your laptop, reusing scrap paper or reducing how many new clothes you buy can save water.
      10. Water your plants in the cooler air of the early morning or evening so the water soaks into the soil instead of evaporating. Keep buckets outside to capture rainwater you can later use to water plants. If you have a sprinkler system, shut it off during rainy periods, and check it regularly for leaks.
      11. Replace your water-hungry grass lawn with a xeriscaped garden. This water-efficient landscape design, already popular in some parts of the Southwest and Texas, utilizes drought-tolerant native plants, flowers and trees along with organic mulches and stones, like lava rocks, pebbles or gravel.

      Incorporating some of the tips above will not only reduce your water footprint, it may also shrink your water bill.

      Spread the word about water conservation

      It’s not just about money, or your solo efforts. Spread the word about water conservation by making it a team effort. Show your kids how you turn off the faucet while brushing and always turn off the lights when leaving a room — perhaps you could make it a game. Talk to your neighbor about your adventures in xeriscaping.

      Leading a water-friendly lifestyle helps your wallet, and the future of our planet. And that’s something you can feel good about.

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