5 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Water Use at Home – And Save Money

Posted September 29th, 2009 in Going Green, Saving Money 25 Comments

Image by Joe Shlabotnik

Image by Joe Shlabotnik

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

Image by Titanas

Image by Titanas

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

Image by stevendepolo

Image by stevendepolo

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

Image by Ingorrr

Image by Ingorrr

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

Image by Editor B

Image by Editor B

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

Image by House of Sims

Image by House of Sims

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!

(Images by Joe Shlabotnik, Titanas, stevendepolo, Ingorrr, Editor B, House of Sims)

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25 Reader Comments

(add yours)
  1. Faucet Aerator Guy October 4th

    If you are going to install a faucet aerator know that there are various levels of water saving aerators. Most low flow aerators start at 2.2 gallons per minute and go as low as .5 gallons per minute. These can be found at any local hardware store.

  2. TripleM October 4th

    We can also use cooking water to water plans.
    Thanks for the tips

  3. Mark S. November 21st

    While we do use the technique to reduce the amount of water in the toilet tank, I have to point out that I think your estimate of water savings is unrealistically high. You indicate 14,000 gallons can be saved per year for a family of four.
    14,000 gallons means 28,000 flushes (if saving 1/2 gallon per flush).
    28,000 / 4 = 7,000 (flushes per person per year).
    7,000 / 365 = 19.18 (flushes per person per day).

    I think average home toilet flushes per person is about 4 or 5. If a household is averaging 19 flushes per day I think they may have other problems! Otherwise, great informative article!

  4. Ali Hale November 22nd

    You’re right Mark, that does seem rather high! I sourced the estimates in that section from several different places, and I guess they didn’t all agree. My understanding is also that it does depend on your type of toilet - many modern ones are already quite efficient.

    Thanks for pointing that out, anyway, and glad you enjoyed the article!

  5. Bethany October 20th

    If only they’d just said… when you’re pregnant, you can save up to _,_ _ _ gallons per year….

    lol

  6. Sandy April 29th

    This one mightn’t be for everyone, but we cut down on our flushes of toilet by not flushing at night time and just do one flush in the morning. It doesn’t cause a smell or a stained toilet, if you consider 2 people urinating into same toilet at bed time and 1 person getting up once during the night along with the 2 people urinating again in the morning, that’s one flush to cover 5 toilet visits. It does make a big difference.

  7. jaghadheswaran September 27th

    it’s nice thing to save water

  8. Peter Bolip November 22nd

    GO SAVING WATER!!!! SAVE THE WATER FROM OUR BRILLIANT PLANET DUDES!!!!!

  9. Peter Bolip November 22nd

    Saving water is part of the community and planet and it is very important to do it.

  10. Buzz Lightyear November 22nd

    save the water!!!!!

  11. Marko Pantis November 22nd

    Nice comment mark. i think flushing the toilet 8 times a day is very good as it keeps it clean and fresh. os flush it 8 times a day not 4 or 5. ok.

  12. Richard Moseby Cody November 22nd

    Saving water is a very serious and important matter. we should flush the toilet 8 times a day like Marko Pantis said and we should also keep a bucket in the sink to get water. with the bucket water you can se it to water your plants instead of wasting water. thank you.

  13. bobby v November 22nd

    wht up water save it dudes. piece

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    are you all hobo

  15. mario March 5th

    save your water is to full bottles

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    Cool, SUCKERSSSSS!!

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  20. nigus May 23rd

    now a time i also have school home work , it say’s that list 6 way’s that could reduce the amount of water that i use per a day ? i answerd that five’s that i get from thise list . which is good for me , and i also add that to be 6 “think as a human being .” becuse some other people in other world are in lack of water .but her we are very lacy to have large amount of water .these i say is because of i am 100% humanbeing .my last question is that are or not ? if you are you also answerd nuber 6 .

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