Saving Water in Your Home
How to Save on Your Water Bill
You would think that just using a little water every day wouldn't make such a big splash in your monthly bills, but certainly can, especially when you think of how clean, fresh water being is used every day for all the little things you do:
- Showers and Baths
- Toilet Flushing
- Kitchen and drinking
All these tasks create wastewater which can harm the environment. So how can you reduce water usage in a way that gives you enough water to continue your life in an environmentally responsible way? Below are some useful water saving tips to help reduce your water usage (and prevent wastewater) without draining your pocketbook.
Low Flow Tub and Shower Tips
- While soaking in a nice warm tub might be relaxing, bathing in a tub every day uses lots of water. Showering uses less water than bathing in a tub.
- You can save water by taking a shorter shower. Leave a timer in the bathroom to help the entire family keep those showers short and sweet.
- If you prefer bathing, only fill the tub only to one-quarter full.
- Minerals deposits from water can clog shower heads causing them to dribble. Periodically soaking your shower head in vinegar will remove the deposits. Pour the vinegar into a plastic bag then immerse the shower head inside while tying the bag to the shower pipe with a long twist tie. Let it soak all day while you're at work.
- Install a low-flow shower head (and faucet aerators). Many come with a convenient shut-off button that let you save water while you lather up.
- Letting water run until it warms up before a shower wastes water. You can reduce the amount by insulating all the hot water pipes in your home. This will keep more water warm longer. Another trick is to fill a cleaning bucket with this "wait water" and use it for cleaning chores later on.
- Turn off the water when you brush your teeth or shave. Recommended tooth brushing is about two minutes. Only turn water on when you need it. The same holds for shaving. You can save a lot of water by filling the sink part way with water and using that instead.
Save Water and Feel Flush
- Toilet flushes consume one-third of household water. Multiply that by the number of times your family answers a call of nature, and the amount adds up quickly. Plus, if your family flushes away cotton swabs, dental floss, or hair clumps, this not only wastes water but can also clog your sewer lines. Toss this stuff into a bathroom wastebasket instead.
- Toilets have moving parts that wear out. The flapper valve that opens for water to flow into the bowl can develop tiny leaks along its seal. If you hear your toilet filling without having been flushed, this valve could be leaking. One way to test it is to put a few drops of food coloring into the toilet tank water and then wait for 10-15 minutes. If you see the colored water in the toilet without flushing, then the flapper valve ought to be replaced to avoid wasting water.
- Experiment with the minimum amount of water you need per flush. The easiest way for this is to set a water-filled bottle, plastic bag, or even a couple of bricks inside the toilet tank to displace the water level. That way, it flushes with a little less water.
- Dual-flush toilets use far less water than regular toilets because they use different means to flush away liquid and solid waste. They require routine maintenance, so if you own one, it's best to follow the manufacturer's recommended schedule.
Save Water in the Laundry
- Laundry soaks up 20% of your home's water usage. However, if you're using a washer from the 1990's, you could save water and money by purchasing a newer, high-efficiency model. New Energy Star qualified models use less energy overall, and half as much water than Energy Star qualified washers made before January 1, 2007.
- Always fill the machine but don't overfill. Too much water will cause the washer to work less efficiently. Newer washers however have water-level controls that use less water, especially for small loads.
- Avoid washing in many small loads but also avoid overloading the machine by filling it past three-quarters full. This leaves enough room for the clothes to move around the agitator and reduces the chance for wrinkles or damage.
- Use the right amount of detergent per load. Check the manufacture's manual as a guide. Too little detergent may not get the load clean, while too much will leave residues that will not rinse away and later attract dirt.
- For heavily soiled loads, use the pre-soak option. You'll use less energy and water instead of washing the same load twice.
- Leave your washer open to dry for an hour or two after the last load to cut mold growth. Also clean your washer once a month to remove mildew or soap scum.
Not a Drop
- Dripping faucets and leaky valves waste water around the clock and should be repaired. While leaky kitchen or bathroom faucets are obvious, some valves leak so slowly that they seem invisible or they are located in places you seldom look.
- A home's main water shutoff valve rarely gets turned and so can corrode. Every few months, turn it off and on. If it is leaking, a professional plumber should replace it properly.
- Check your water meter periodically to monitor for leaky plumbing in the rest of your home. Watch the dials for a while. If you see movement, then it's time to go looking for signs of leaks.
- Check the shut off valves under sinks. Look for water dripping from the valve stems as well as water stains on the floor or cabinet base. Also check valves and hose connections behind washing machines, dishwashers, and by-pass humidifiers.
- Inspect connections to well pumps, pressure tanks, softeners, filters, boilers, and water heaters. If any of these are covered with excessive corrosion, they ought to be replaced by a professional.
- Check outside hose bibs after winter for leaks. Even frost-free style faucets can freeze, and when the valve stem breaks in the wall, it should be handled by a professional. You can avoid problems by making sure the water lines supplying outdoor hose bibs are emptied before winter, that the pipe inside is insulated, and the outside faucet has an insulated hose bib cover.
Conserving Water in Your Yard
- Each spring and summer, as people care for their lawns, shrubs, trees, and gardens, water usage soars. A common problem with sprinkler systems is over-watering simply because there is no control system (such as a timer) to limit the amount of water used. Another problem is evaporation. Many sprinkler systems spray water into the air to emulate rain. However, in some fine-misting sprinkler systems, almost much of the water evaporates before it can even get near the ground.
- Water wisely. Many plants can be watered at the end of the day when heat is lower and evaporation will be reduced.
- Set up a rain barrel at the bottom of a downspout to collect rain water. This water isn't potable, of course, but it is safe to water shrubs, flowers, trees, and vegetables.
- Use mulches around shrubs, flowers, trees, and vegetables to retain moisture in the soil while reducing weeds and the use of herbicides.
- Lawns are thirsty. Reduce the size of your lawn by replacing it with native plants. Many replace nutrients in the soil, like nitrogen, that grasses take out. You'll end up with better soil, a more diverse and disease-resistant yard, and use much less water.