In the United States, there are 36 states facing severe water shortages. The need for stricter water conservation is becoming a critical need, but most consumers are not informed well enough on how to conserve or even understanding the benefits of doing such. Conserving water will not only help the environment, but it could significantly lower your costs every year, which is exactly why you should follow our easy guide for reducing your water consumption.
What is Water Conservation?
Water conservation (defined) is a physical approach to saving water. It is a request initiated by the Environmental Protection Agency, encouraging consumers to use less water and be smarter about how they use water in their homes and places of business. The EPA has seen significant reductions in water consumption across the country, but they are hoping to see even more over the next few years. With less than one percent of the water on Earth being usable by people (the rest is sea water), it is even more important consumers find ways to conserve their water use. The population is also continuing to grow, which means more people are using up precious resources. Water conservation looks for ways to use water wisely and prevent water waste — all while lowering consumer water bills.
There are ways you can limit how much water your household or business uses, and ways to eliminate water waste. Also, conserving water may extend the life of your home’s systems — pipes, septic tanks, etc. — which will save you even more money in the long run.
So, if you have been meaning to lower your water consumption each month, consider these top ten ways you can lower your bill:
1. Check for Leaks
The biggest cause of water waste is leaking pipes and/or faucets. Leaks outside are common and often they are not visible — which means they could go on for months without you ever noticing. But, these leaks are just as wasteful as those that occur right under your nose indoors. Check your pipes indoor and out for any signs of leaks. Take a look at your faucets and the second you notice a drip or leak, have the faucet replaced or repaired immediately. Many times your water meter will be located where it may be run over by a vehicle. This could put enough pressure on the ground to slightly break your water pipes. If this happens, the ground will stay damp all the time. If you notice this occurrence, you should immediately contact your city water provider and ask them to repair the pipe as this could literally cost you hundreds of dollars per month if left unchecked.
2. Shorten Showers and Baths
Taking a shower does use less water than a bath. In fact, it uses up about 10 to 25 gallons, while your bath takes more like 70 gallons. If you do take a bath, plug the drain up right away to avoid any excess from going down the drain.
And, avoid filling your bathtub all the way up — instead, stick to a lower water level. To save even more on your water bill and to conserve more water, limit showers to five minutes or less. If you are efficient with your time, you can easily wash up and get out of the shower before the five-minute timer ever goes off. Some shower heads have a small button or lever that slows the water stream while you’re washing your body or shampooing your hair. Take advantage of this little device to slow the water flow. People who follow this simple step can save up to a 100 gallons of water per month without much effort.
3. Upgrade Water-Using Appliances
Old appliances are water wasters. These can include your dishwasher, washing machine and even your water heater. Take a look at your existing water-consuming appliances and see if they are Energy-Star certified. If not, consider replacing those appliances with ones that are. You may qualify for tax rebates as well for upgrading, so you can offset the cost. Also, don’t discount the idea of a high-efficiency toilet. These use less water than old toilets and can save you considerably on your water bill.
4. Use Water-Saving Showerheads
Water-saving and low-flow shower heads are inexpensive and can save gallons of water each year. They’re easy to install, so you don’t have to worry about paying for a professional to come out and install them either. Because showers use an average of 5 to 10 gallons of water every minute, a low flow shower head will limit that to just 2.5 gallons per minute. Most people don’t realize that there is a “slow” feature on most shower heads. While taking a shower, toggling this lever will slow down the flow of water while you are in the process of washing your body or shampooing your hair. Next time you’re in the shower, be sure to look for this little money saver!
5. Only Wash When Loads are Full
While it may be more convenient to run your dishwasher every night, is it really full? Dishwashers do not sense the load or number of dishes — they wash based on the cycle you choose. Because there is no “half load” cycle, you should only run a dishwasher when it is 100 percent full. Washing machines should also be used only if you have a full load.
If you consistently have smaller loads, consider switching to an HE machine. High efficiency washers measure the weight of the load before adding water and they use 35 to 50 percent less water per load — saving you a lot of gallons each year. While upright washing machines help save water, front-loading washers notoriously use less water each year and are more energy-efficient.
6. Don’t Leave the Faucet Running
It is easy to leave the faucet running — you’re chopping vegetables and need to wash them off, you’re cleaning off the counters and want to rinse out your rag or you’re washing dishes. But, leaving it running is a huge waste of water.
Instead, fill up one side of the sink with hot soapy water and another side with clean water for rinsing. That way your faucet isn’t running to clean the dishes — and you’re still able to hand-wash what you need cleaned. This also applies when brushing your teeth.
7. Water Your Lawn Conservatively
Only water your lawn if it needs watering. You can tell if it is ready to be watered by stepping on the grass. If the grass springs back under your weight it doesn’t need any more water. If, however, it stays flat, it needs watering. Also, let your grass grow taller — up to 3 inches or more — so that it promotes water retention in the soil. Your lawn only needs about 1-inch of water per week.
When you do water it, deep soak is so that the water has time to penetrate the roots and keep it hydrated. Light sprinkling doesn’t saturate the lawn and it can actually encourage shallower roots — which mean less water retention.
Lastly, water in the early morning when the lawn isn’t too hot — which can cause water to evaporate rather than penetrate. Never water while it is windy, because the wind can carry the water away and inhibit saturation.
8. Use Drought-Resistant Landscaping
Drought-resistant landscapes are eco-friendly and can reduce your water consumption considerably. While you don’t have to necessary get a fake lawn, there are shrubs and plants that are drought-resistant and require little to no water. Also, plant your flowers at the bottom of a slope, which will help reduce runoff and keep water around the flowers. If you are planting a variety of shrubs and flowers, plant those with similar watering needs next to one another.
9. Wash Your Car Smart
If you need to wash your car, stick to a bucket of soap and a sponge. Only turn the water on when you need to rinse off your car and never leave the hose running while you are washing it. If you have a pressure nozzle, use that to keep water from being wasted.
10. Use Electronic/Smart Faucets
Electronic and smart faucets sense when you are there and turn on automatically. They also turn off the second your hands are no longer in front of the sensor. These are specifically designed to help save money and conserve water. Most electronic faucets are also water-saving faucets, which are able to maintain pressure, but without the same amount of water a traditional faucet would need.
Conserving water doesn’t take much, but it does require a little effort. If you want to contribute to saving the environment and lowering your water bill (which could save you hundreds each year), make sure to implement these ten water saving tips into your home’s routine. Make sure everyone in your house is on board for conserving water — make it a game for the kids — that way the entire family is ready to make their contribution toward conserving our most precious natural resource.