We often cite water as one of our most valuable natural resources. While many people have made changes, like switching to a low-flow toilet, in their homes, there are still many small changes that we all can make in our water consumption. These small changes can add up to big water savings. Saving water is not only good for the environment, but it’s also good for our bank accounts as well.
Use a Shower Bucket
While you are waiting for your shower or bath water to warm up, place a bucket under the running tap. This water can be used to water plants or flush the toilet. You can even leave a bucket in the shower with you while you wash and let it collect whatever it can.
Speaking of Toilets
Some people choose not to flush after every use. You may not want to let solid waste sit around, but there’s no real reason that you have to flush after ever urination. It’s fine to let several efforts accumulate. In many homes, the toilet is actually the place that the most water is used.
Don’t Let the Water Run
While you are brushing your teeth, shaving or even just scrubbing your hands, turn off the tap. That’s water that is absolutely going to waste.
Get Rid of Your Lawn
If you live in an area that requires you to regularly water your lawn in order to maintain it, you may want to simply get rid of the lawn altogether. Instead, go with plants native to your area. These should require little more than whatever rainfall you receive.
At the Car Wash, Yeah
Do you need to wash your car? You probably do, at least occasionally. Opt for a car wash that uses recycled or reclaimed or responsibly sourced water, such as the water from the planned Cadiz Water Project.
“Reclaim” Your Pasta Water
When you boil water to cook pasta, you normally drain that water off, and away it goes. Instead, save the water you drain from your pasta. Small amounts can sometimes be used immediately in the preparation of pasta sauce. The rest can be used to water plants once the water has been allowed to cool.
Upgrade Your Fixtures and Appliances
If you haven’t done so already, switch to a low-flow toilet and water wise taps and shower heads. These are relatively easy changes to make. If you can afford it, you should even consider a WaterSense rated dishwasher and clothes washer.
Fill Your Tank
If you cannot upgrade to a low-flow toilet, add a half-gallon jug of water to the tank. This will significantly cut down on the amount of water used for each flush. Some suggest putting a brick in the toilet tank instead, but this isn’t the best option. A brick can break down into sediment and cause damage.
Shorten Your Showers
Did you know that some shower heads use up to 5 gallons of water per minute? This is especially true for older shower heads. If you cannot upgrade your shower head, at least consider cutting your showers a bit shorter. At 5 gallons per minute, the water savings can add up quickly. If you only shave off two minutes from your shower every day, that can mean a savings of 70 gallons a week, just for one person. In fact, you may even be able to get away with skipping a shower from time to time. If you cut out just one shower per every 10 days, the gallons add up!
Only Run the Dishwasher when It Is Full
You may think it’s easier or more convenient to run small loads of dishes at a time. Some of us fall into the trap of running a half load every day, rather than waiting and running a full load of dishes every two days. However, no matter how full the dishwasher is, it uses the same amount of water. All those unnecessary half-full loads of dishes can add up to a significant water expenditure, one that’s avoidable.
What about Hand-Washing Dishes?
If you hand-wash your dishes, then plug and fill up the sink to get the job done. Don’t just let the tap run while you wash.
When Do you Water Your Plants?
It’s ideal to water outdoor plants early in the morning. The cooler temperatures early in the day mean that less water will evaporate and you’ll end up using less. Of course, you can use all the water you reclaimed from your shower or your pasta cooking to water your plants. Watering in the evening is not, however, recommended. Although the temperatures are likely cooler than midday, evening watering can facilitate the growth of mold.
Some of these suggestions are just common sense, and chances are good that you are doing some of these already. Any one change may seem small, but several small, daily changes can add up to significant water conservation.