Whenever a new season arrives, don’t you usually perform some tasks to prepare your home?
During the summertime, for example, you need to bring the barbecue grill from storage, clean the outdoor chairs and prepare your garden for the fun times ahead as you entertain friends. You also exchange layers of clothes for cooler shirts, shorts and swimsuits.
What about during the wintertime? Aside from bringing out your cooler clothes, you also need to winterize your home so that its structural integrity would not be affected from the cold weather.
What exactly could happen if you fail to winterize your home? The water pipes inside and especially outside your home could freeze, causing them to snap. This leaves your home without water and, possibly, heat.
You could also be paying for repairs or emergency calls for the plumber if you stumble upon domestic disasters as a result of lack of preparation for the winter. The good news is that with a lot of preparation, you can easily prepare your home for the winter. These preparatory tasks include implementing ways to conserve water during the coldest months of the year.
In the following sections, we will be dishing out tips on how you can save water during the winter season, and why it is important to conserve water in the first place.
Reasons for Saving Water During the Winter Season
Now, what are the reasons for saving water during the winter season? Since they’re cold months, anyway, you would not be using as much water as compared to the summer months, right? Not necessarily. Saving water is important year-round, and here are the reasons why:
- The average household uses almost 70 gallons of water per day indoors. The usage comes from cooking, food preparation, drinking, showering, cleaning and flushing the toilet.
- For outdoor water usage, the tasks include watering plants during the summer, washing the car, cleaning driveways, etc. When combined with indoor water usage, each household is most probably consuming 300 to 350 gallons of water per day!
- During the winter, you would not have to perform tasks like watering the lawn. If you’re not careful, however, you can still consume the same volume of water that you are using up during the summertime.
- Conserving water should be an all-year campaign and not just done during the summertime.
- When your household’s water consumption is lowered, your utility bills also decrease so you can save money in the long run.
A Multitude of Ways to Save Water This Coming Winter
Again, just because it is wintertime does not mean that your water consumption automatically decreases. You need to make a conscious effort as a household to conserve water, and here are the specific ways on how you can do just that:
Install low-flow showerheads
Almost half of the average home’s water consumption comes from the bathroom – both from taking baths or showers to flushing water down the toilet. The traditional way of conserving water is to consciously cut your shower time by half.
If you usually take ten-minute showers, cutting it by half to five minutes is already a big help. You can save even more water by turning the shower off while shampooing your hair or lathering your body. But you can take things one step further by installing low-flow showerheads.
Unlike traditional showers, these low-flow systems give you the feeling of continuous water flow but while actually lessening your water consumption.
Replace your toilet’s flushing system with one that conserves water
Of the 40% water consumption used for bathrooms and toilets, 25% comes from water literally flushed down the toilet. How can you make sure that you are not using any more water than you have to when using the bathroom?
If you can, replace your existing toilet with one that has an intelligent flushing system. Depending on the contents of the toilet, these flushing systems will use water accordingly.
If you don’t have the budget to replace the entire toilet, you can simply visit a hardware store and look for kits that you can use to lower the water consumption of the toilet tank. These are very easy to install and are usually placed inside the toilet’s water tank.
Check all pipes for leaks
For a single faucet that has a leak of one drop per second, it wastes gallons of water per day. Just imagine how much water will be wasted if you leave a leaking pipe unfixed for an entire month. Aside from increasing your utility bills, you are wasting water unnecessarily.
The winter season is a particularly harsh time for your pipes because they go through extreme changes in temperature. After the first thaw, check all the pipes for leak or have a professional plumber do it for you. If you live in a house with an old plumbing system, it is probably that those poor pipes cannot take the stress and abuse anymore so it is best to have them checked.
Winterize your pipes and insulate hot water pipes
Aside from checking pipes for leaks, you should also winterize them and insulate hot water pipes as a form of winter preparation. Make sure that the outdoor pipes are wrapped, especially ones which are running to the backyard spigot. This will minimize the possibility of the pipes leaking or bursting.
You might also notice how it takes a longer time for hot water to flow during wintertime. This is caused by colder pipes as a result of the changing temperature. To make sure that there is plenty of hot water running during winter, winterize the pipes by heading to the crawl space to insulate them. You can have a plumber do it for you, or go for a do-it-yourself solution.
Change the schedule of your sprinkler
If you can, invest in a weather-based sprinkler system outdoors. There’s no problem if you have one which is not weather-sensitive, however, as long as you know how to change the schedule of your sprinkler. Once the weather cools down, there is no need for you to water the lawns and plants as much. If it rains, there’s no need for them to be watered at all.
Consider investing in a rain barrel
If you live in a state where the level of rainfall is quite significant, you will be saving a lot of money on water consumption by investing in a rain barrel. The role of rain barrels is to collect and store rainwater runoff. This can be used to water outdoor plants, clean the driveway or even your car. This is an excellent device to invest in that will add great value to your home.
Determine where the shut-off valve is
During particularly harsh winters, even the most stringent preparation can still cause pipes to burst or leak. In case it does happen, make sure that you know exactly where the shut-off valve is.
In some cities, shut-off valves are located out in the streets. Other possible locations are the basement, the attic or the crawl space. Test it once so that you would know exactly where it is during domestic emergencies in the water. Inability to turn the shut-off valve when a pipe bursts can lead to flooding and water damage.
Only run full loads of dishes and clothes
This is something that should be done not just during the wintertime, but all throughout the year. When running the washing machine or the dishwasher, make sure that the appliance has a full load. This lets you save not just on water consumption, but electricity as well.
Invest in energy efficient appliances
If you have an appliance that is ten to fifteen years old, it is probably using up more electricity and water than necessary. The initial investment of appliances which intelligently use water and electricity might be a bit bigger – but you will save a lot of money on utilities in the long run.
When replacing your dishwasher, washing machine or dryer, check out the reviews online so that you can compare prices, features, brands and models. Look for models which have a high Energy Star rating, and make sure that they also conserve water.
Know how to prioritize your water usage
If you have a garden, prioritize the newly-planted trees, lawns and shrubs when using the sprinkler. This maximizes the growth of the plants that you have prior to the winter season.
Monitor your family’s water consumption
Finally, see to it that each family member does his or her share in helping conserve not just water but electricity as well. Make sure that the kids know how to turn off the faucet while brushing their teeth. Get dads to use a soapy bucketful of water instead of using a pressurized hose when cleaning the car.
These little efforts all add up, and will lead your house to have a more concentrated effect on conserving water. Again, water conservation is something that should be done year-round and not just during the wintertime, so get on with it!