Best Ways to Conserve Water
at Home This Weekend

By Beth Krietsch
Photo by Manki Kim

Nearly all of us use too much water at home. In fact, the average American goes through nearly 90 gallons each day. According to the EPA, you could save nearly $200 each year by incorporating water saving practices into your lifestyle and equipping your home with water efficient fixtures. Remember that water is a finite resource that demands conservation.

Here’s how to practice responsible water stewardship with simple changes you can make in a single weekend.

Conserving water in the kitchen

From washing dishes to preparing dinner, kitchen water use is high. Consider the following tips for lowering your impact.

  • Don’t leave the water running—Turn off the faucet when you don’t need it and consider installing a low-flow faucet on your kitchen sink. Some low-flow models flow at 1.5 gallons each minute, compared to five gallons a minute for conventional faucets. That adds up to huge savings over time.
  • Install an aerator on your faucet—This will increase water flow efficiency by 30% or more.
  • Minimize the use of kitchen sink garbage disposal units—These units require a lot of water to operate properly. Instead, start a compost pile as an alternative method of disposing food waste.
  • When you can, use the dishwasher—If run when full, efficient models can use less than 5 gallons of water per load, compared to upwards of 20 gallons for washing by hand.

Conserving water in the bathroom

Bathrooms account for more than 50% of water use in American homes. This is a great place to start if you’re looking to use less. Here are a few ways we recommend conserving water in your bathroom.

  • Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth—Turn it back on only when you’re ready to rinse out your mouth. You could waste more than two gallons of water for each minute it’s left on.
  • Take showers rather than baths—Consider taking quicker showers and installing a low-flow shower head. Long showers are nice, but they carry a hefty impact.

The EPA recommends testing for toilet leaks by adding in a few drops of food coloring in the tank. “If the toilet is leaking, color will appear in the bowl within 15 minutes,” the EPA says. Remember to flush the toilet after testing to wash out the food coloring and eliminate the potential for stains.

Consider purchasing a WaterSense certified toilet, which can save you around $100 each year on your water bill while using 20% less water than older and conventional toilet models, according to the EPA. Additionally, you can prevent emergencies by getting routine maintenance done with a sewer line warranty or septic warranty.  

How to conserve water throughout the home

You’re probably using more water than you need to beyond the kitchen and bathroom. Lower your water bills and help out the environment by taking stock of the following.

  • Look for Watersense and ENERGY STAR labels when purchasing appliances, which will help guide you toward energy- and water-efficient products, homes, and programs. According to the EPA, this can save upward of 11,000 gallons each year. And the impact will lasts for years to come.
  • Don’t do laundry until you have a full load of clothing ready. Also, be cognizant of washing machine settings and remember to adjust load size accordingly.
  • Fix leaks. Sometimes, seemingly small problems can actually have a huge impact. A leaking shower head or faucet can account for about 14% of your indoor water use and a shower head that drips 10 times each minute can contribute to up to 500 gallons of water loss each year. That’s a lot of wasted water and a hefty power bill for no reason.

Monitor for leaks by checking your house water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter doesn’t show the same levels for both times, you may have a leak. You also may have a leak if you’re using more than 12,000 gallons of water each month.

Conserving water in your lawn and garden

Each day in the United States, around nine billion gallons of water are used for outdoor residential purposes. The average suburban home uses between 30% and 70% of its water for irrigation and other outdoor uses, and much of this water is wasted through wind, evaporation, and overwatering. It’s possible to keep your lawns and gardens looking fresh while also lowering your utility bill. Read on for a few tips.

Plant according to your climate—

  • Do a bit of online research or ask your local garden center which species are native to the region. Particularly in dry climates, this can be a great way to help you find drought-resistant plants that can thrive on smaller amounts of water.

Get smart about how you water—

  • There’s no use watering sidewalks and streets—make sure sprinklers are properly set to water only your lawn. If you want to clean your sidewalk, use a broom instead.
  • Limit evaporation by watering in the early hours before dawn when temperatures are cooler.
  • Add 2–4 inches of mulch around trees and plants to slow evaporation of moisture and discourage weed growth.
  • Don’t over water—learn how much water your plants need, and tend to them accordingly.
  • Use the correct type of watering device. Droplets are better than mist for watering plants and grass, and trickle irrigation and soaker hoses are best for watering trees and bushes.
  • Don’t use more fertilizer than is necessary, which increases the need for water, according to the EPA.

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