You want to save money on your utility bills this year. Outside of reducing your energy bill, conserving water in your home is the next step you need to take. The average household in America uses 300 to 400 gallons of water a day. That amount can be drastically reduced through a variety of tasks. The ways you’ll save can be divided into 3 categories, identifying issues, fixing or installing efficient solutions and most importantly, adjusting your lifestyle and managing use. Explore over 30 ways below that will save you money by conserving water in various rooms of your home, and in your yard.
Why Conserve Water? The Bigger Picture
Before you dive into all of our water saving tips, consider why you’re doing it. There’s some outstanding numbers you should be aware of. They’ll paint a better picture of what you can expect to save and the ultimate impact you’ll be making on more than just your bank account.
Water Usage In America
The average household in America uses around 3 to 4 hundred gallons of water a day (80-100 gallons on average per citizen). According to the EPA, 70% of that daily use comes from indoor sources. The other 30% comes from outdoor uses and can vary depending on the region of the country you reside. When it comes to waste, it’s reported that the average American unknowingly wastes around 30 gallons of water a day. Compare that to the 88 average gallons used and you find that 34% of water is wasted every day. There’s most definitely room for improvement.
Saving Money on Your Water Bill, How Much?
The cost of water is actually on the rise. So how much money can you save by various water conservation efforts? According to Circle of Blue, and a study of 30 US cities in 2018, a family of four using 400 total gallons of water a day can expect to pay $70 per month on water. If you effectively eliminate leaks, seek out water sense labeled products and manage your use, perhaps you could chop your bill in half.
The Bigger Impact of Conserving Water
Water is a finite resource. It’s necessary for life on our planet and with the growing population and usages, there are going to be shortages in our lifetimes. Taking these steps to reduce waste will save you money and truly help our planet in the decades to come. It will take some effort to do but it’s highly important to take these steps now. We have the ability to move towards a more eco conscious future. Remember, the steps you take do have an impact no matter how incremental you may think they are.
Indoor Usage - Ways to Conserve Water In Your Home
By keeping our categories in mind (identifying problems, fixing them by selecting efficient solutions and managing use through lifestyle changes) we’ll explore various rooms, appliances and ways you can start saving.
Save Water In Your Bathrooms
More indoor water waste comes from the bathroom than any other room in your home. Toilets, sinks and showers use a massive amount of water combined. Here’s some ways you can reduce water usage in your bathroom.
Take shorter showers. Soap up, wash and rinse. If you can reduce your shower time to around 4 minutes you could save about 3,600 gallons a year. (Tip: if you listen to music while showering, limit the shower to one or two songs.)
Use a low flow shower head. Adding a low flow shower head can cut water usage by 20,000 gallons a year. Less water to heat means more money saved.
Consider taking baths only as a treat. Take a short shower the rest of the time.
Don’t use your toilet as a trash can. Changing this habit will help you flush less and help the sanitation efforts of your city water department.
Use low flow toilets if you don’t already. They’re required now in most new construction homes. These newer toilets use only about 1.6 gallons per flush or 1/3 of the water of older toilets.
Check your toilet for leaks. Put a few drops of coloring into your tank and see if it shows up in the bowl without flushing. If it does, you’ve found your problem. Fixing a leaky toilet will save you up to a hundred gallons of water a day that were unknowingly going to waste.
Reduce water per flush. Fill an empty milk jug with stones (clean it first) and place it in your toilet tank to displace excess water. This can save you up to 5-10 gallons per person, per day.
Keep the faucet off when you're not using it. Turn the water off while brushing your teeth or shaving. Don’t turn it on until you need it! This is a big water wasting activity that many of us are guilty of.
Add an aerator to your faucets. They cut down on water usage by actually mixing air bubbles into the stream – with just as much pressure, but a lot less water.
Check your faucet for leaks. According to the EPA a leaky faucet that leaks at a rate of one drip per second can lead to more than 3000 gallons of wasted water per year. Old faucets with worn down components are highly prone to leaks. Be sure to check all the faucets in your home as this could be an issue in your kitchen or utility spaces as well.
Saving Water in Your Kitchen
Your kitchen is another large player when it comes to indoor water usage. Beyond inspecting for leaks to fix, a huge piece of conserving water in your kitchen comes from being conscious of your actions and managing your usage. There are some simple changes that can be made to your routine that allow for less water usage and in turn, money saved.
Run the dishwasher only when you have a full load. As of 2013, standards have been in place so newly manufactured dishwashers use no more than 5 gallons per load. That said, you don’t want to run it more than you need, so wait till it’s full.
Opt for dishwashing over hand washing. You’d think it would be the other way around but running a full load of the dishwasher uses less water than the likely 20+ gallons you would use hand washing that full load. Consider the several instances of filling the sink, letting the water warm and running the faucet during the rinsing phase. You’re better off putting it in the dishwasher.
Don't let the water run while rinsing. If you hand wash the dishes and have two sinks, use one for washing and one for rinsing. Don’t let the water continuously run during the rinsing phase.
Don’t keep the faucet running while you wash vegetables.
Check for leaks. Same as the bathroom, check your faucet and pipes for leaks. The amount of wasted water that can add up is staggering.
Avoid using running water for defrosting. It comes down to remembering the night or morning before but write a reminder for yourself if you have to!
Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the fridge for consumption. If you’re a frequent tap drinker, making this simple change will save you from letting the water run to get cold before you fill your cup.
Avoid the rinse before the wash. Don’t spend so much time rinsing the dirty dishes before you put them in the dishwasher. Simply scrape off the large pieces and put it in the dishwasher.
Conserving Water in Your Laundry and Utility Rooms
Small changes in your laundry routine can lead to vast amounts of water saved and effectively contribute to a lower utility bill. Consider these tips when utilizing your washing machine and utility room.
Full loads are preferred. Only run your washing machine when you have a full load. If your washing machine is energy star certified, it probably uses around 14 gallons of water per load, while traditional washers use around 20. Just like the dishwasher, it’s best to only run when full so as not to use excess water on half or third full loads of laundry.
Use the size cycles setting on your washer. While it’s still preferred to only run on full loads, use the size cycles setting if you must wash a small load. It’s an easy way to use less water, the hardest part is remembering to turn the dial.
Use warm or cold water when possible during the laundry process. Heating up the water is the most energy intensive part of the laundry process. You’ll save on utility costs by making this small change.
Reuse your towels. A towel that’s used to dry off after a shower does not need to be washed after every use. Instead, let it dry and use it again.
Use the right amount of soap with each load so you can skip the extra rinse cycle and save on water.
Upgrade to an efficient washing machine when you need a new one. Opt for a front loading washing machine and one that’s energy star certified. This change will save you thousands of gallons of water each year.
Fix those leaks. It may seem redundant at this point but always inspect for leaks that may happen with pipes and the utility sink in your laundry room. Leaks are among the largest culprits of wasted water in American households every year. According to the EPA over 180 gallons of water can be wasted by the average American family each week just because of leaks. Add that up annually and it amounts to over 300 loads of laundry.
Outdoor Water Usage - Ways to Conserve Water In Your Yard
About 30% of our water consumption happens outdoors, watering lawns and gardens is the biggest portion. This percentage increases drastically in more arid regions of the country. Understanding proper watering techniques for your lawn and implementing some other tactics such as the use of rain barrels can help curb some of that outdoor usage.
Add a rain shutoff device on your irrigation system controller. It’s an effective way to prevent overwatering and optimize your irrigation system for maximum savings. These devices will stop your system from running if it senses there is already enough moisture in the soil.
Install a rain barrel under your downspout to collect runoff from your roof. Using this natural supply to water your plants is an incredible alternative to running your hose or sprinkler systems.
Choose drought tolerant plants to populate your yard. This will effectively reduce the frequency you’ll have to water.
Mowing your lawn high encourages roots to grow deep and they won’t need to be watered as often.
Check your hoses and attachments for leaks before each season. You’ll need to replace them if you find issues. Leaks are a main source of water wastage.
Add a layer of mulch to help retain soil moisture. This will allow you to water less.
Eliminate the weekly car wash at home. The average garden hose sprays about 10 gallons a minute compared to a professional car wash that uses about 35 gallons per car. Plus consider this: if you wash your car at home you’ll be sending oil, detergents and other pollutants down the storm drain.
FAQ's around Water Usage, Conservation & Bills
Q. How much water does a family of 4 use per month?
A. Approx. 12,000 Gallons. Consider the fact that an average person uses between 80-100 gallons a day. That's 3000 per month per person if each individual uses 100 gallons a day.
Q. How much is the average water bill?
A. Around $70. This is an average across the United States. Prices will vary depending on where you live.
Q. What appliances use the most water?
A. In a study by the Water Research Foundation on residential indoor water use in 2016, they reported toilets use 26.7%, washing machines (laundry & dish) use 21.7%, showers 16.8%, faucets 15.7%, leaks account for 13.7% and 5.3% is other.
Q. How much water is used when I flush my toilet?
A. Toilets manufactured after 1994 use a maximum of 1.6 gallons per flush. Older models can use around 5-7 gallons per flush.
Q. How much water is used in a shower?
A. An average shower can use around 17 gallons of water.
Q. What are 3 of the biggest water wasting activities?
A. Using your toilet as a wastebasket and flushing. Taking 20 minute showers. Running your laundry machine or dishwasher with small loads instead of full ones.
Q. I'm one person, does it even matter if I conserve water?
A. Yes! Incremental changes add up. It starts with you and influencing your household to adapt these conservation habits. While our planet is abundant with water, fresh water is what's harder to come by. Though it may seem tedious, it's important to do your part in reducing the waste of this commodity.
Start Conserving Water & Reaping the Benefits
It all starts with reflecting on your usage and implementing ways to best optimize your household for maximum savings. Perhaps you can effectively cut your bill in half if you’re diligent about following these strategies.
Keep the bigger picture in mind. Taking these steps to reduce water waste will save you money and truly help our planet in the decades to come. By taking steps like these and being conscious about our actions, we have the ability to move towards a more eco conscious future. Little changes you make will go a long way, no matter how incremental you think they are.
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