Water is one of the world’s most vital resources, and we can’t afford to live in a world without it. By 2025, the UN predicts that 3.4 billion people will be living in water-scarce countries. With this water crisis happening in the world, we must be mindful of how we use our water resources, and the best way to start is in our own homes. Here are some of the simple but helpful ways to save this precious resource, which can also help you cut down on expenses as well.
1. Don’t leave the tap running
This might be a piece of very elementary information for you, but sometimes most of us tend to forget it. Do you know that an average faucet releases two gallons of water per minute, so every minute it is turned on counts. If you are brushing your teeth, just wet your toothbrush and turn off the faucet while you brush. If you are washing your hands, just wet your hands and turn it off again while you scrub your hands. If you’re showering, just wet your body and turn the shower knob off as you soap up. Don’t let all that water just go down the drain without being put to use.
2. Immediately fix leaks in sinks and toilets
Those minor water drips might not seem like a big deal, but it should not be ignored. In fact, you should call the plumber right away! A leaky toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water a day, and a faucet that drips one drop per second can leak 2,700 gallons a year. And not only is it wasteful, but the dripping sounds are also annoying.
Always check your kitchen and bathroom faucets, and your pipes and toilets for leaks and one way to do that is by reviewing your water reading. Choose a two-hour period and make sure no water is used. Check the meter reading before and after, and if there are any changes (even slight), leaks are likely present. Ask help from a professional if you’re unsure how to pinpoint the source of the leak. To check your toilets for leaks, put a little dye or food coloring in your toilet tank. If you see the color appearing in your bowl within 30 minutes without using the flush, then you have a leak that needs to be fixed immediately.
3. Install high-efficiency faucet aerators and shower heads
You might be using more water than you really need. You can save water without hassle by using simple fixture upgrades. Install faucet aerators to cut down on the amount of water released while using the faucet, but still maintaining the pressure. These are little pieces of hardware that can be screwed to the bottom of faucets. High-efficiency aerators can reduce water flow by 1.5 gallons a minute. You can also replace your old showerhead with a high-efficiency one that can reduce shower water use by 20 to 60 percent.
4. Choose water-saving appliances
Dishwashers and washing machines use up a lot of water, so choose those that are marked with Energy Star logo. You can be assured that these appliances are high-efficiency and water-saving. Don’t run these appliances until they are full; running them with a half-load can waste gallons of water. Also, load your dishwasher properly to avoid having still-dirty dishes that you need to hand-wash to clean.
5. Capture rainwater
During rainy days, set-up a rain barrel to collect rainwater from your eaves. The water you collected can be used to hydrate gardens and lawns and can be used to wash your car.
6. Keep a bucket in your bathroom
While you wait for the shower water to warm up, stick a bucket under it, instead of letting clean water pour down the drain. The collected water can be used to bucket-flush your toilet. Keep that bucket in your bathroom so you and your household can fill it until someone would need the water to flush the toilet. It may not sound very First World, but it helps you conserve, especially if your toilet flush uses a lot of water.
7. Upgrade your toilets
If you don’t want bucket-flushing toilets and if collecting water is a hassle for you, you can swap out your old toilet with ones that carry EPA’s WaterSense label. These fixtures are more expensive than regular toilets, but they can bring you savings in the long run. A WaterSense toilet can save around 4,000 gallons of water annually. You may also convert your toilet to a dual-flush version so it will use less water when all you need to flush is urine. By the way, do you really need to flush every time? If it’s yellow, let it mellow. And if you really want to maximize your water savings, you can install a greywater recycling system that makes use of water from the bathroom sink to flush your toilet, rather than using fresh, potable water.
8. Wash your produce in a basin
Fruits and vegetables need to be clean before consumption and cooking, but you can reuse water you cleansed them from. Fill a basin in your sink and wash your produce in it, or rinse your produce under the sink with a basin collecting the water. Use this water to water your plants or add it to your flush bucket.
9. Reuse your pasta water
Instead of dumping your pasta cooking liquid down the drain, you can reuse the water. After cooking your pasta or any food that requires boiling or steaming, save the water into a pot, let it cool and use it for bucket flushing or for watering the plants. Just make sure that the water is really cool before you use it to hydrate plants because boiling water can harm them.
10. Water your plants early in the morning
Watering your plants early in the morning is better than water at the heat of the sun or during the cold of the night. This strategy helps water seep deeply into the plant roots and to reduce water loss due to evaporation in the afternoon. This also helps prevent the growth of fungus, mold and other garden pests. Remember to water in short bursts to make water soak to the ground better.
11. Add a layer of mulch around plants and trees
Mulch is an organic material that is useful for trees and plants, because it prevents weed growth and increases the ability of the soil to retain moisture, thus slowing down evaporation and lessening the need for watering. Add two to four inches of mulch around your plants and press it down the drip line to prevent run-off of water.
12. Adopt low-water plants
If you use a lot of water in your lawn or garden, try replacing some of your plants with shrubs and succulents that require less watering. Choosing plants that can thrive in drought conditions are great for conserving your household water consumption. Placing fake grass is another alternative if you want a green lawn but don’t want to spend a lot of water to keep it green.