Whether you want to save water because you’re in a drought, you’re environmentally conscious, or you just want to save money, there are many different ways to conserve water. Some actions take very little effort, while others are more challenging. Whatever your motivation, you can find at least a few changes that will work for you.
While other parts of our country have been buried in snow, Californians have been praying for rain and snow to help alleviate the serious drought we’ve been in for several years. All sorts of regulations are being put on water use.
We have a well instead of city-supplied and regulated water, but the worries are still the same. We’ve been focusing on ways to conserve water lately, both at home and in our community. Since we are on a well, saving water also means saving electricity since a pump is required to get the water from the ground to the faucet.
Here are some of our ideas for saving water. I would love to hear what you are doing to conserve water in your neck of the woods!
Simple Ways to Save Water
Turn off the water! It sounds simple– and it is!– but lots of people don’t do it. I’ve seen friends leave the kitchen water running down the drain while they rummage through the fridge or help a child with homework. The classic example of wasting water by not turning it off is when brushing your teeth. After you wet your toothbrush, turn the water off until you’re done brushing.
Get efficient! A more efficient toilet can save 2 to 5+ gallons of water per flush. A low flow shower head can save up to 40% of the water an older model uses. Put a faucet aerator on all the faucets in your house. Shop for efficient water-using appliances like washing machines and dishwashers.
Use a Dishwasher. It doesn’t take much to convince me to use a dishwasher instead of hand-washing dishes. Using a dishwasher actually uses less water in most cases than the amount of water a typical person uses to hand-wash the dishes.
Run only full loads. For both clothes and dishes, a full load is the most efficient way to go. Wait to run the dishwasher until it’s full and make sure you have a full load of dirty clothes before you start the washing machine.
Don’t wash clean clothes. With a family of five, the laundry piles up in the blink of an eye. One of my pet peeves is finding clothes that I know were not even worn in the hamper. Sometimes they are even still folded. I’ve also been stressing to my kids lately that their pajamas are not dirty after being worn once and that their jeans can often be worn more than once too.
Hard Core Ways to Save Water
Take Shorter Showers. Efficient shower heads still use two gallons of water every minute. That’s a lot of water going down the drain. Try using a timer to help you cut down on the time you bask in the flowing warm water. You could even make short showers into a fun family shower challenge.
Shower Less Frequently. You can still have good personal hygiene without a shower (or multiple showers) everyday. In fact, in many cases, it’s actually better for your skin to not shower daily. Personally I would rather take a longer shower less frequently than a short shower everyday.
Recycle water. Wash your produce over a bowl or bucket so you can use the water for your garden. Keep a bucket in the shower to collect the water as you’re waiting for it to heat up. You can add the water to the washing machine or use it to water your plants or garden. The most hard core version of this would be to re-use all of the shower water by leaving the tub plugged during the shower and siphoning or pumping the full tub into a holding tank for later use. This water could be used to fill the toilet tank or water plants, depending on the soaps/shampoos you use.
Collect rainwater. Rainwater can be collected and used to water your plants or garden. Of course, when you’re in a drought, this won’t yield as much, but even this year we’ve had three seriously heavy periods of rain. Your roof and gutter system concentrates all the water falling on the house into a few convenient downspouts. A barrel under the downspout is an easy way to save some of that runoff to use for outside watering. More complete catchment and filtration systems can be installed, but the cost starts mounting pretty quickly, so unless you’re ready for a serious commitment, use buckets or barrels you already have or can find easily and inexpensively.
The good news is that no matter how terrible or terrific your current water usage habits are, there is always room for improvement. I know our family will be trying to conserve more water than we have before. I challenge you to do a little better too!
How About You?
- What are you doing to save water?
- What are your reasons for saving (or not saving) water?