10 Easy Ways You Can Conserve More Water
The typical home uses 125 gallons of water indoors every day. See how you stack up by taking a look at your water bill, or using the Water Footprint Calculator, and follow these tips.
By Virginia Sole-Smith
1. Fix Leaks
Dripping faucets and running toilets can account for more than 10 percent of your water use, says Tracy Quinn, a senior water policy analyst at the National Resources Defense Council. You might not even realize you have a toilet leak. To find out, put a few drops of food coloring in the tank and wait 10 to 15 minutes. "If the color appears in the bowl, you have a leak and likely need to replace the flapper," Quinn explains.
2. Run Only Full Loads
When it comes to dishes, this is even more efficient than hand-washing, says Quinn: A new dishwasher uses about four gallons of water per load -- less than your kitchen faucet puts out in just two minutes of scrubbing. Also, stop prerinsing dishes; simply scrape and let your dishwasher do the rest. The same goes for letting laundry build up before you run a cycle.
3. Turn Off the Faucet
You can save 100 gallons a month by turning off the water while you brush your teeth, says Kai Olson, senior research and policy analyst at the Grace Communications Foundation. Ditto if you keep it off while shaving or lathering up your hands.
4. Save Cooking Water
Place your colander over a bowl in the sink before draining pasta or beans; that starchy water makes a great base for soup or sauce. And stop running produce under the tap. If you use a bowl of water to swish your lettuce clean, it can be reused to water houseplants. Any leftover water in your coffeemaker reservoir can also be used.
5. Switch to Showers
The average bath uses twice as much water as a shower -- 50 gallons as opposed to 25.
6. Detect Droughts
"If you're in a water-restricted area, your utility company will not be shy about telling you," says Olson. "But governments only enforce water restrictions when it's dire. So you could be in a less-than-severe drought and not know it." Check the U.S. Drought Monitor.
7. Manage Your Lawn
Caring for your yard can account for half of the water used by your household, says Olson. Make your grass less thirsty by letting it grow taller: Adjust your lawnmower blades to around three inches, which will help the roots retain more moisture.
8. Schedule Your Sprinkler
Don't water in the heat of the day, when you'll lose too much to evaporation. And use a rain gauge to see if it's necessary at all. (Sticking a trowel into your lawn or flower beds works the same way -- if the soil is damp two inches below the surface, you don't need to water.)
9. Go Native
Choose indigenous plants, which often thrive on minimal watering or what falls from the skies.
10. Make Your Pool Cool
High temps lead to evaporation. Also, keep the water level low to stop it from splashing out.