Water is a precious resource. Most Americans — since we are so used to just turning the tap, and Voila! — as much as you want, are painfully unaware of just how short in supply water is worldwide.
According to The World Bank, there are 80 countries with water shortages major enough to threaten the health of their people and the strength of their economies. And 40 percent of the world’s population — more than 2 billion people — have no access to clean water or sanitation at all!
There are many ways to conserve water in and around your home; some involve simple lifestyle changes and others upgrading to some more energy and water efficient technologies.
It may sound obvious, but one of the simplest ways and first steps to take in conserving water around your home is to look for and stop all leaks. If you pay for water, leaks around your home can be as costly and wasteful as leaving your lights on.
Did you know that the trickle from a constantly leaky toilet is not only an annoying sound; it wastes up to 200 gallons of water a day! Over the course of a single year that adds up to 73,000 gallons, enough to fill a few swimming pools, or the equivalent in annual energy savings of replacing 13 incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, according to the California energy report. And speaking of toilets, we’re sure you have heard the “if it’s brown flush it down, if it’s yellow, leave it mellow” mantra, but that also goes for using your potty as a wastebasket. Every time you toss in a cigarette butt or a tissue in the bowl and flush – that’s another 5 gallons of water literally down the drain!
If you live in a cold part of the country, it is easy and inexpensive to insulate your water pipes. This will improve the efficiency of your hot water heater. Other simple lifestyle adjustments to save water at home include:
- Taking shorter showers.
- Instead of running the water, stop letting the water run while you are brushing your teeth, and fill the sink with water to rinse your razor while shaving,
- Only run your dishwasher and washing machine when they are fully loaded.
- Minimize the use of in-sink garbage disposals. These take up a lot of water. Instead, think about using coffee grinds, and other organic waste to start a compost heap for your garden.
And speaking of the garden, plant drought-resistant shrubs, only water when necessary, and be sure your sprinklers are pointed to where the water is actually landing on the garden and plants and not being wasted hitting gutters, sidewalks, and innocent passersby!
Filters, Showerheads, and Other Water Conservation Products
Conserving water also actually affects water purity. Installing water filters or water purification systems in your home not only will guarantee the purity of your own drinking water but also you will be doing your entire community a favor as well.
When you take steps to conserve water in your home, that means your municipal sewage system becomes less overloaded, and it is less likely that raw sewage and contaminated water will get into the drinking water supply. In addition to the water savings “lifestyle” techniques mentioned, there are various products you can install in and around your home that can both purify and preserve water.
For example, a “low-flush” toilet can be installed that uses only 1- 2 gallons, instead of the typical 5-7 gallons of most toilets. Alternatively, consider a tank booster. Here is a good use for those worthless plastic water bottles. Instead of having them wind up in a landfill, take a couple of them and fill them with sand, seal the top, and place them in the bottom of your toilet tank, away from the flush mechanism. This can actually save 10 or more gallons of water per day.
Of course, not all water saving devices and techniques involve the toilet – but before we leave the bathroom, let’s look at another big water waster – the showerhead. Water-saving low-flow showerheads or restrictors are readily available and easy to install. A showerhead is considered “low-flow” if it uses less than 2.5 gallons per minute.
There are other “smart” shower devices that can be installed into existing showerheads which work as a kind of thermostat, and pause the flow of water once it reaches a certain temperature.
Also, be sure that every faucet in your home is equipped with an aerator. For just pennies, they can save you hundreds of dollars on your water bill over time.