Sure, we’ve all heard about taking showers instead of baths, reducing the laundry temperature, and putting bricks or bottles of sand in our toilet tanks. There’s also the endless debate about dishwashers. But what are some more everyday, long-term measures you can take?
Reuse whatever you can
We waste more water than we realize in our everyday activities. For example, when you cook pasta, boil veggies, etc. what do you do with that water? Most of it can be reused, e.g. for making stock or even watering household plants. Creative water reuse like that is one of the easiest ways to contribute to a healthy cooking setup in your kitchen.
Another reuse people don’t often consider is flushing. You can set it aside in a pot or bucket and save a few tankfulls. If you don’t feel like lugging a pot of water to and from your bathroom, consider a water-conserving toilet. This genius design has a sink for washing your hands on top of the tank, so that the water gets reused in the next flush. Bonus cleaning points from the soap it carries!
Replace your fixtures
Most toilet tanks, shower heads etc. nowadays have low-flow alternatives. Look around your local hardware stores and feel free to ask employees for recommendations – they know the good stuff. Low-flow fixtures use a smaller quantity of water per minute to do their thing.
However, the reduced flow doesn’t mean reduced pressure – you don’t have to worry about unsatisfying showers. It’s just an optimization of resources. Depending on your location and the models available, this might seem like a pricier solution upfront, but it pays for itself in water bill reductions.
Review your plumbing
Fixtures are only as efficient as the pipes that supply them with water. First of all, you’ll need a thorough inspection, so contact a few businesses, ask friends for reliable recommendations, and compare pricing and service scopes to find the best plumbers for your needs. Houses and apartments require a slightly different approach, so keep that in mind.
Things you should inspect include pipe insulation, age, your gutters, drainage systems, stormwater management, flooding pumps, the condition of your valves, taps, filters, and connected appliances like garbage disposals, sprinklers, etc.
Look for inefficient flow, cracks, chips, corrosion, clogging, and leaks. Whatever is faulty, fix it immediately. The longer you wait, the bigger the problem, the bigger the hassle, and the more costly the solution.
You don’t need all that water
Seriously, cut down on needless flow. The most common cases of this are brushing your teeth, washing your hands and face, and hand-washing dishes. Just consider: water exits an average home bathroom faucet at the rate of 2.5 gallons (that’s roughly 4 liters) per minute.
Most dental hygiene articles recommend that you brush for a minimum of two full minutes. If you let your faucet run while brushing, that’s already 5 gallons (8 liters) of water wasted 2-3 times a day for a total of 10-15 gallons (16-24 liters). Why? Just wet your brush briefly and then turn the tap off until it’s time to rinse. Even better, pour some water in a cup and rinse with that instead.
Similarly, don’t leave the water running idly while you lather your face or scrub your hands (especially since we have time recommendations for that too – around 20 seconds minimum). Turn it back on when it’s time to rinse. We understand you don’t want soap in your eyes, but be honest – you definitely can find your own tap with your eyes closed when it’s right there.
As for dishes, same story – you don’t need the water to run by while you lather. If you like to have some on hand, fill the biggest pot and use that to rinse the smaller dishes.
Dry up your gardening
Yes, you need to water your plants. But building an eco-friendly, sustainable garden means being mindful of your water usage and moisture management, too. There are some strategies that can work for a traditional house garden as well as apartment, balcony, or container gardens. Consider the following ideas:
Get a permit to collect rainwater on your property. One or two rain barrels can collect several hundreds of gallons of rainwater.
Water in the early mornings when it’s cooler, so your plants lose less water through evaporation.
Add mulch to maintain natural soil moisture. You don’t have to spring for the painted wood chips – straw, compost, kitchen scraps, shredded newspaper etc. work just as great.
Use leftover cooking water, or water from washing produce (as long as they’re not treated with pesticides)
You can probably get some more great advice from senior gardeners. Reach out to local gardening clubs, community projects, etc. Elderly people in your area probably have rich experience with the soil and climate and can give you insight from experience that you’ll never find in conventional resources.
Saving water at home is mostly a matter of planning long-term. Review your habits in hygiene and cooking, and turn off the flow when you don’t need it. And if you’re a gardener, remember the golden rule: reduce and reuse.