Water is a precious commodity. Most single-family households consume more than they realize, and water is not cheap. A few changes to your family’s habits and some minor home improvements can conserve water and make the world a better place while saving money in the process.
Here are three places in the home where water can be saved, and the easiest ways to save it.
1. The Bathroom
Hardly anything happens in the bathroom that does not involve water. The bathroom uses an embarrassing amount, but it’s also one of the easiest places to conserve.
Start with the shower. If it includes a tub, refrain from taking baths. A shower can save roughly twenty gallons of water per wash, especially if you cut your shower time from ten minutes to five or six. One step better: install a low-flow shower head. While old shower heads may have great pressure, they also use twice as many gallons of water per minute.
You can reduce a water bill up to 60% by taking these steps, according to the Department of Energy. That’s a lot of water and cash.
Bathrooms can have more than three faucets. If one leaks, that can waste up to two thousand gallons annually. Making sure all water sources are in working order can result in a dramatic improvement to any water bill.
If the faucets and sinks in the house are older, installing a faucet aerator will keep pressure high while keeping the water flow low. Even with low water flow, leaving the faucet running while brushing your teeth, washing up, or shaving is wasteful. Always shut off the faucet if the water isn’t in immediate use.
A leaking toilet can waste up to five hundred gallons a day. By testing biannually for leaks (with the use of dye tablets) a family can save itself a chunk of change. When doing that test, take a moment to replace the toilet flapper, too. Consider putting in a fill-cycle diverter. They’re inexpensive, and they push overflow back into the tank, which is a big money-saving move.
If these toilet fixes sound like too much work, there are two simple alternatives. One, put a full water bottle in the tank to reduce the amount of water needed to refill the tank. Two, buy a whole new low-flow toilet. These use half the water per flush, so no one has to work hard in the toilet tank to save some cash.
2. The Laundry Room
The luxury of an in-house washer and dryer can be dampened by the monthly bills that accompany it. Only do the laundry when there’s a full load to wash. Cut the frequency with which full loads pile up by not washing clothing that has been worn only once (with the exception of underwear or items that are stained or visibly dirty).
If the old machine is ready for the junkyard, or a laundry-room remodel is imminent, make sure to buy a high-efficiency washing machine that uses less water and energy.
Instead of turning on the hose every day, consider these money-saving alternatives for the garden, lawn, and backyard.
Collect rainwater by attaching barrels to drain spouts and use that water for outdoor plants and when washing the car. This encourages watering with hoses instead of sprinklers, which is more efficient and water-friendly, especially with a soaker hose that does not spray water everywhere.
Decorate with household plants that prefer dry climates and don’t require much water beyond what nature provides. Mulch prevents a good deal of evaporation, keeping water in the ground where plants can use it. For a more dramatic solution, consider designing a rain garden, which helps balance the ecosystem while improving the environment.
Many people waste water by spraying dirty sidewalks and patios. For truly dirty facilities, try sweeping and using a bucket of water and a scrub brush. The same thing goes for washing the car. Washing it at home may seem like a money saver, but washing your car can slosh up to one hundred gallons of water. Compare to the few dollars that go into the machine at the DIY car wash, and suddenly washing at home doesn’t seem so thrifty.