How many times have moms reminded their kids to turn the faucet off while brushing their teeth? When you go online, how many websites can you visit which has a list of the things that you can do in order to conserve water? Why do hardware stores sell low-flow shower heads or intelligent flushing systems for toilets?
All these are meant to instill in people the value and importance of saving water. This natural resource is slowly becoming scarce and if we don’t do our share in helping conserve water, it might not be something that that the future generations can enjoy anymore.
To give you an idea about how important it is to conserve water, take a look at the following statistics:
- For the years 1990, 2000 and 2009 in the US, 30, 40 and 45 states, respectively, reported having water stress conditions. This means that the threat of lowered water supply has become more and more imminent in a growing number of states in the US – in addition to other parts of the world.
- The average person uses about 200 liters of water per day. For basic survival, five to ten liters is used for drinking and food preparation. For the average American family, water consumption is about 400 gallons of water per day.
- In California, a recent law was mandated for households to reduce their water consumption for up to 20% by the year 2020.
These few quick facts, along with the drought and shortage of potable water on underdeveloped countries in the world, highlight the crucial need to conserve water. And it all starts inside the home.
Basic Strategies to Save Water
If every household and each family member will take steps towards saving water, most of our water shortage problems will be solved. Or at least, the resource will be conserved and there will be no unnecessary wastage. The good news is that there are plenty of things that can be done inside the home in order to conserve water. Take a look at the different parts of the house and various aspects of home maintenance where water conservation measures can be taken:
In the Kitchen
About 10% of a household’s water consumption comes from the kitchen – more if you always cook and love to entertain, or if you have a big family. The water consumption in this part of the house comes not just from cooking but also from drinking, cleaning and washing. Here are the specific ways for you to conserve water in the kitchen:
- To save money not just on water but also for your plastic bottle consumption, invest in a good quality water filter. Those individual water bottles that you buy from the stores let you use a lot of small plastic bottles. When you have a water filter at home, you can simply fill up a reusable water bottle and take it wherever you go.
- Instead of drinking water from a running tap, collect the liquid in a glass or reusable bottle and store it in the fridge until cold. Or, use a pitcher which you can store in the fridge and drink from there.
- If your dishwasher is ten years old or more, you will be saving a lot of money on electricity and water by replacing it with a newer model. The newer models are designed to conserve electricity and water intelligently, so the investment will be worth it in the end. When using the machine to wash the dishes, make sure that you are running a full load.
- If you have only a few used glasses to wash, do not run them in the dishwasher any more. Simply rinse the glasses and air dry. For dishes which are not that dirty, use dish-washing liquid sparingly so they would not require as much water to rinse.
- Consider installing an aerator which controls the flow of water on your kitchen faucets. This will reduce your water consumption in the kitchen by half.
- If there’s frozen food that needs to be thawed, leave it in room temperature overnight or transfer it form the freezer to the fridge compartment. Do not use running water for defrosting.
- If you have a leaking faucet in the kitchen or other parts of the house, replace it immediately. Even one drop of water per second on a leaking tap will cost you to waste five gallons of water per day.
While Doing the Laundry
Whether you’re living alone or are doing the laundry for everyone in the family, 15 to 20% of your water consumption will come from this household chore. Here are the ways for you to conserve water while dealing with dirty clothes:
- If your washing machine needs replacement, check on the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards rating, as well as the Energy Star rating. These will tell you whether the model is an energy-efficient one or not, and how it performs in terms of conserving water. Also, a front-loading model is more water-efficient than a traditional top-loading model.
- Make sure that there are no leaks in the water filling system of your washing machine. If there is a drip, go for a DIY solution or call a plumber. This will save you a lot of money in the long run.
In the Bathroom/Toilet
Did you know that almost 40% of the water consumed in your home comes from the bathroom and toilet? 25% of that comes from water that’s literally flushed down the toilet. Fortunately, there are many ways for you to cut back on your water consumption using the following steps:
- If you haven’t already done so, replace your toilet’s flushing system with water-conserving model. Otherwise, use the old-fashioned trick of using a hollow container to fill up the toilet tank in order to conserve water. There are also small gadgets that you can buy from hardware stores which help reduce the water consumption of traditional toilets once the flush is activated.
- Replace traditional shower heads with low-flow ones.
- Cutting your shower time in half is also a great way to reduce your home’s water consumption. If you have kids, make sure that they know how to turn off the tap while brushing their teeth, or to use a basin when washing their face.
- If you have a bathtub, only fill it with as much water as needed. Regularly check on the plug for leaks and replace faulty ones the soonest time possible.
- When shaving, fill the basin with some warm water and rinse the razor. A running tap wastes 16 liters of water per minute, so make sure to turn the tap on only when necessary.
Outside the House
If you have a front lawn, a backyard, a garage or all of these, most of your outdoor water consumption will come from watering the plants and cleaning the cars or the driveways. Check out the ways for you to save water outside the house:
- Stop using pressurized hose to wash your car. Simply use a bucket with soapy water to while keeping your vehicle clean.
- If you must take your car to a commercial car wash establishment, make sure the business practices minimal water use.
- Instead of hosing down driveways with water, simply use a broom, a brush or a rake to maintain cleanliness in these pathways.
Extra Ways to Save Water
If you have a fish tank, use the old water on your plants. The water from fish tanks is filled with phosphorus and ‘old’ nitrogen, which will benefit the plants greatly. If you have an outdoor pool, spa or Jacuzzi, you can still enjoy these features in your home without having to feel guilty about wasting water. For instance, you can capture rainfall to refill your pool or use a cover to reduce evaporation – especially during the summertime. An inexpensive rainwater tank can be attached to a down-pipe which in turn diverts rainwater into your swimming pool.
As mentioned earlier, even one drop of water per minute on a leaking pipe can cost you gallons of water per day. Not only is this an unnecessary wastage, but it also increases your utility bills. Regularly inspect your pipes and faucets for leaks. If you can’t fix them yourself, call the help of a plumber. The money that you will use to pay the plumber will be worth it in the end, because you can save gallons of water in the process of having them fixed.
If you have a garden, you can also take water-saving measures by using grey water or rainwater. Those who live in a state which experiences a lot of rainfall can install rainwater tanks. Using the tank, you can collect water from the rain to use on your garden or the outside of your home. Another benefit of collecting rainwater is that it helps ease the load off storm-water systems.
As you can see, there are plenty of things that can be done inside and outside the home in order to conserve water. Whether you’re living in a small apartment or in a multi-bedroom house, you should do your share in helping conserve this precious resource. Aside from doing your share in helping save the environment, conserving water will also help lower your monthly utility bills.