Chances are that if you’re a homeowner, you care about saving water. Conserving water has plenty of benefits, from minimizing your impact on the growing water crisis to saving money on the utility bill. And even small gestures can make a big difference! The average American uses about 80 to 100 gallons of water in a single day. Here’s how you can cut your water use at home and in the yard:
Save Water in the Home
#1: Make a DIY Float Booster for Your Toilet
What’s a float booster? It’s a small floating water reservoir that displaces water from the tank so you use less water every time you flush the toilet.
The best part is, you can make it yourself. Take a two-liter soda bottle and fill it 1/4 of the way with sand so it sinks. Then, fill it the rest of the way with water, and set it in the toilet tank. This forces the toilet to fill less, so it saves you up to a gallon with every flush! Toilets can use up to 7 gallons per flush, which is a lot of water waste, so a single gallon per flush is significant savings.
#2: Run Full Loads in the Dishwasher & Washing Machine
The average dishwasher uses only 6 gallons of water per cycle, making it more water-efficient than washing in the sink. The catch is, running partial loads negates that savings so you’re actually wasting water. Wait to run the dishwasher until it’s a full load. The same goes for the washing machine!
#3: Don’t Pre-Rinse Dishes
Along those lines, there’s no real need to pre-rinse dishes before putting them into the dishwasher. Running water from the tap can use up to 2.2 gallons per minute, making it an unnecessary waste that doesn’t actually enhance the dishwasher’s performance in most cases.
#4: Avoid Using a Garbage Disposal
The garbage disposal doesn’t work properly unless you’re continuously running water while it’s switched on. In fact, running it dry can lead to damaging the internal components and clogging up the pipes. Consider switching to an organic trash disposal method that doesn’t use water, such as composting.
#5: Check Your Water Meter Periodically
Once a month, make it a point to do a quick water meter check so you find leaks fast, before they waste hundreds of gallons. Simply read the meter, then spend two hours using no water in the home (maybe use this time to run errands), and read it again. If it’s changed, then there’s a leak that you need to tackle.
#6: Rule Out Toilet Leaks
It’s easy to have a toilet leak without knowing it, since most leaks occur between the tank and the bowl so you never see wasted water on the floor. Put some food coloring in the toilet tank, then wait 30 minutes without flushing the toilet. If the color starts to seep into the bowl, then you know that the tank has a leak and it’s time to call the plumber.
#7: Speed Shower
Did you know that the average shower uses up to 5 gallons of water per minute? Shaving even 1 minute off your shower length makes a huge difference, and adds up quick over the course of a week. Try turning off the water while you lather up and shave, then turn it back on the rinse. Or combine steps to save time, such as conditioning your hair first so it’s ready to rinse by the time you’re done lathering your body.
Conserve Water In the Yard
#8: Deep-Water the Lawn
This might seem counter-intuitive, but if you use more water with each watering, you actually use less water overall because you can cut your watering back to once a week or once every two weeks. Try putting an empty cat food can or a 1” shallow dish on the lawn. Once the dish fills, you know you’ve watered the lawn enough.
#9: Don’t Water in the Wind
If you water the lawn when there’s wind, the water evaporates before the lawn actually gets to utilize it, and some of the water gets blown off-target and lost on the pavement. Wait to water your lawn until the weather is still.
#10: Clean Driveways with a Broom
It may seem tempting to sweep away driveway gunk with the hose, but you can get the driveway just as clean with a broom without using any of the water. Running a hose uses about 2 gallons of water per minute, which adds up fast.
#11: Use a Pail to Wash the Car
Rather than letting the water run continuously when you’re washing the car, fill up a 5-gallon pail and use that to wet, suds, and rinse the car. That way, you’re using only 10 gallons of water at worst: one bucket to lather, and one bucket to rinse. A 20-minute washing session could use an astonishing 40 gallons of water with the hose.
#12: Use Drought-Resistant Grasses
Consider re-planting your lawn with a drought-resistant species that tolerates low moisture. Varieties such as Kentucky Bluegrass are tolerant of every climate and they don’t need to be watered every week to thrive, so you can cut back your watering schedule and the lawn won’t even notice.
Water conservation is a bigger-picture issue that we can’t tackle without the help of individual people. And the best part is, it doesn’t take huge effort or lots of money to save a few gallons at home. It’s all about changing small habits, one at a time, so that water efficiency becomes second nature.
You don’t have to commit to a huge gesture, like turning seawater into drinking water with reverse osmosis water systems: there’s plenty that you can do on your own level. When millions of people commit to save just 50 gallons of water a week, it adds up fast. The planet will thank you, so what are you waiting for?