Ways to Save Water
Simple tips for using less water at home
by Jeana Malcolm
Fresh water shortages are a problem all over the world, not just in desert regions and developing nations. As reservoirs and other important water sources begin to dry up and dwindle all over the United States, it is time to stop taking water for granted and treat it as the precious resource that it is. The average American uses a staggering 80-100 gallons of water each and every day-- that's 29,200-36,500 gallons of water per person per year! With a population of over 300,000,000, that kind of water usage adds up pretty fast. Here are some easy ways to lessen your impact:
In the Tub & Shower:
- A full bathtub will contain around 36 gallons of water, so try to ease up on the number of baths you take. A tub filled halfway will more than suffice for most small children.
- Change your shower head. Older models can use up to 6 gallons of water per minute. Installing a new, low-flow shower head takes only a few minutes, can cost as little as $10, and will save you 4 gallons of water per minute every shower.
- Try taking shorter showers. Even using a low-flow shower head, you'll still save 10 gallons of water by reducing your shower time by 5 minutes.
In the Toilet:
- Most toilets in use in the US today are the low-flow variety, and use about 1.6 gallons per flush, compared to pre-1980s models which often required up to 4 gallons per flush. But there are even more efficient models available. Australian company Caroma designed a model with two flushing options, one for liquids and the other for solids. The liquids option uses only 0.8 gallons per flush, an option that could save many gallons of water per day and over $100 on your water bill each year.
- If installing a new toilet isn't an option, try to conserve your flushes for when they're truly needed. Don't waste a flush on a solitary tissue, or on that spider you found lurking in the shower.
In the sink:
- Remember not to let the water run while you are washing your hands or brushing your teeth. Newer model bathroom faucets use about a gallon per minute; older ones use up to 2 gallons per minute.
- If you are hand washing dishes, don't keep the water running while you rinse. You'll save over two gallons of water per minute.
In the Washing Machine & Dishwasher:
- When it's time to replace your old washing machine or dishwasher, look for an Energy Star label to help you spot the most efficient models. An Energy Star certified washer uses only 15 gallons of water per load compared to 23 gallons for a standard model; a certified dishwasher uses less than 5.8 gallons of water per load compared to more than 10 for a standard. You'll also save a lot of electricity while you're saving all that water.
- Wash only full loads of both clothes and dishes to avoid wasting water.
- Don't pre-rinse your dishes-- you'll waste up to 20 gallons of water! Invest in some good detergent and just scrape your dishes. If they will be sitting overnight, use your dishwasher's rinse cycle and use significantly less water (and time!) than you would rinsing by hand.
- Avoid using sprinklers as much as possible. When you do use them, use them only in the early morning when the sun will not evaporate the water as quickly. Set them to run for only a short time, and make sure that you are covering as large an area of your lawn as possible and that none of the water is being directed at the driveway or sidewalk. Hand water any small areas that are beyond the reach of your sprinkler.
- Keep your grass mowed to a medium-length blade height. If your grass is too long, it will need more water, and if it is too short, it will require frequent watering.