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On average, we each use 50 – 70 gallons of water per day in the home — that’s around 70,000 – 100,000 gallons per year for a family of four. Cutting down on your water use at home isn’t just a great way to do your bit for the environment … it’ll also save you a significant chunk of cash on your water bill. If you follow all five tips below, you could easily save $100 a year on your bill. (Based on an estimate of $1.50 per 1,000 gallons.)
1. Reduce the Water in Your Toilet’s Tank
On average, our toilets account for 28% — more than a quarter — of our daily water use. As you can imagine, making savings here has a huge impact on the amount of water that your family uses. Even better, it takes just a few minutes to modify your toilet so that you save half a gallon of water with each flush.
Find a half gallon container, such as an empty juice or milk bottle, and fill it part-way with gravel or sand. (If you need extra weight, you can add water. Don’t just use water though, as the bottle will bob around in your tank and interfere with the mechanism!) Insert it into your toilet’s tank, and next time it fills, the bottle will displace half a gallon’s worth of water — meaning that the tank won’t contain so much. Saving half a gallon a flush might not sound like much, but that’s an estimated 14,000 gallons per year for a family of four.
Extra Toilet Tips:
- When buying a new toilet, make sure you get a “low flush” model.
- Check your toilet for leaks by putting a few drops of food coloring in the tank — if color appears in the bowl within 30 minutes without flushing, you have a leak.
2. Take Shorter Showers
Around 18% of the water we use in the home is during showers and baths: an eight minute shower typically uses 40 – 80 gallons of water. By cutting down to four minutes, you’d save 20 – 40 gallons: around 7,000 – 15,000 per year. Obviously, you won’t want to compromise on personal hygiene by rushing your shower, so try turning off the water while you soap your body or shampoo your hair — and turn it back on when you’re ready to rinse.
Don’t underestimate the impact of this one: by simply cutting down your shower by one minute, you’d save around 2,000 gallons per year.
Extra Shower Tips:
- Make sure your shower uses a water-efficient or low-flow shower head
- Don’t use the “power shower” setting! If you’re doing this and taking longer showers, you’re using more water than you would if you ran a bath.
3. Don’t Leave Your Faucet Running
Get into the habit of only turning on the faucet when you need it. That means that if you’re brushing your teeth, you shouldn’t be running the water constantly for several minutes. If you need to wet a razor to shave, or a cloth to wash your face, run a couple of inches of water into the sink — rather than leaving the faucet on.
Many of us have good habits when it comes to the bathroom sink, but we often forget that the kitchen sink can use just as much water. When you’re rinsing vegetables or dishes, put a stopper in the sink and run water into that — don’t just use a running faucet. Keep drinking water in the refrigerator so that you don’t need to run the water until it’s cold each time you want a drink.
Extra Faucet Tips:
- Don’t ignore leaks: a dripping faucet might not look like it’s using much water, but it could be wasting several gallons of water each day. (Try this handy calculator for leaking faucets.)
- Consider installing an aerator to improve the spray velocity of your faucet whilst reducing wasted water.
4. Only Run Your Washer With a Full Load
Avoid running your dishwasher or clothes washer when it’s not full, and you could save 12,000 gallons of water every year. Get into the habit of stacking your dishwasher efficiently — make maximum use of the space available. Encourage members of your household to reuse water glasses or other “nearly-clean” crockery, rather than putting them straight into the dishwasher. If you don’t have many items to wash, run a few inches of water into the sink (use any excess water from your kettle too) — and wash them by hand.
When you’re shopping for a new dishwasher or clothes washer, look out for more efficient models which use less water, and which have multiple cycle settings, so that you can pick the most appropriate.
Extra Washer Tips:
- You don’t need to pre-rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher: just scrape them.
- Avoid using the permanent press cycle on your clothes washer, as this adds an extra rinse.
5. Don’t Waste Cooking Water
When you’re cooking, make sure you avoid filling your pans with too much water. You only need enough to cover the food — not to drown it! If you’re boiling vegetables, you can reuse the water to make gravy or soup: as well as saving water, you’ll be getting the nutrients from the veggies which were lost in the cooking water.
Most foods don’t need to be cooked at a fierce boil: simmering them will save you on gas or electricity and it’ll prevent some evaporation of water. If you can’t reuse your cooking water in the kitchen, you could leave it to cool and then use it to water the garden.
Extra Cooking Tips:
- Consider steaming your vegetables in stacked trays, so that you can use just a little water to cook them all.
- Try using couscous or rice instead of pasta: both are typically cooked in much less water.
How do you save water in your home? Would any of the above tips be easy for you to implement? Do you have some of your own to add to the list? Let us know in the comments!