Water Conservation in the Home
Conserve water in the home with the following tips:
- Check faucets and pipes for leaks - A small drip from a worn faucet washer can waste 20 gallons of water per day. Larger leaks can waste hundreds of gallons.
- Check your toilets for leaks - Put a little food coloring in your toilet tank. If, without flushing, the color begins to appear in the bowl within 30 minutes, you have a leak that should be repaired immediately. Most replacement parts are inexpensive and easy to install.
- Don't let the faucet run while you clean vegetables - Just rinse them in a stoppered sink or a pan of clean water. Use a dual-setting aerator.
- Don't use the toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket - Every time you flush a cigarette butt, facial tissue or other small bit of trash, five to seven gallons of water is wasted.
- Install water-saving shower heads and low-flow faucet aerators - Inexpensive water-saving low-flow shower heads or restrictors are easy for the homeowner to install. Also, long, hot showers can use five to ten gallons every unneeded minute. Limit your showers to the time it takes to soap up, wash down and rinse off. "Low-flow" means it uses less than 2.5 gallons per minute. You can easily install a ShowerStart showerhead, or add a ShowerStart converter to existing showerheads, which automatically pauses a running shower once it gets warm. Also, all household faucets should be fit with aerators. This single best home water conservation method is also the cheapest!
- Insulate your water pipes - It's easy and inexpensive to insulate your water pipes with pre-slit foam pipe insulation. You'll get hot water faster plus avoid wasting water while it heats up.
- Keep a bottle of drinking water in the fridge - Running tap water to cool it off for drinking water is wasteful. Store drinking water in the fridge in a safe drinking bottle. If you are filling water bottles to bring along on outdoor hikes, consider buying a LifeStraw personal water filter which enables users to drink water safely from rivers or lakes or any available body of water.
- Minimize use of kitchen sink garbage disposal units - In-sink 'garburators' require lots of water to operate properly, and also add considerably to the volume of solids in a septic tank which can lead to maintenance problems. Start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing food waste.
- Put plastic bottles or float booster in your toilet tank - To cut down on water waste, put an inch or two of sand or pebbles inside each of two plastic bottles to weigh them down. Fill the bottles with water, screw the lids on, and put them in your toilet tank, safely away from the operating mechanisms. Or, buy an inexpensive tank bank or float booster. This may save ten or more gallons of water per day.
- Be sure at least 3 gallons of water remain in the tank so it will flush properly. If there is not enough water to get a proper flush, users will hold the lever down too long or do multiple flushes to get rid of waste. Two flushings at 1.4 gallons is worse than a single 2.0 gallon flush. A better suggestion would be to buy an adjustable toilet flapper that allow for adjustment of their per flush use. Then the user can adjust the flush rate to the minimum per flush setting that achieves a single good flush each time.
- For new installations, consider buying "low flush" toilets, which use 1 to 2 gallons per flush instead of the usual 3 to 5 gallons.Replacing an 18 liter per flush toilet with an ultra-low volume (ULV) 6 liter flush model represents a 70% savings in water flushed and will cut indoor water use by about 30%.
- Rinse your razor in the sink - Fill the sink with a few inches of warm water. This will rinse your razor just as well as running water, with far less waste of water.
- Take shorter showers - One way to cut down on water use is to turn off the shower after soaping up, and then turn it back on to rinse. A four-minute shower uses approximately 20 to 40 gallons of water.
- Turn off the water after you wet your toothbrush - There is no need to keep the water running while brushing your teeth. Just wet your brush and fill a glass for mouth rinsing.
- Use your dishwasher and clothes washer for only full loads - Automatic dishwashers and clothes washers should be fully loaded for optimum water conservation. Most makers of dishwashing soap recommend not pre-rinsing dishes which is a big water savings.
- With clothes washers, avoid the permanent press cycle, which uses an added 20 liters (5 gallons) for the extra rinse. For partial loads, adjust water levels to match the size of the load. Replace old clothes washers. New Energy Star rated washers use 35 to 50% less water and 50% less energy per load. If you're in the market for a new clothes washer, consider buying a water-saving frontload washer.
- Use your water meter to check for hidden water leaks - Read the house water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.
- When washing dishes by hand, don't leave the water running for rinsing - If your have a double-basin; fill one with soapy water and one with rinse water. If you have a single-basin sink, gather washed dishes in a dish rack and rinse them with a spray device or a panful of hot water. Dual-swivel aerators are available to make this easier. If using a dishwasher, there is usually no need to pre-rinse the dishes.