Whether you live in a part of the country suffering from drought or just want to lower your next water bill, here are some simple tips to cut down on your water waste. Most of these recommendations cost only a few dollars, require minimal installation, and allow you to maintain your current lifestyle.
Target the toilet
Toilets account for nearly 40 percent of all the water used inside the home. If your toilet is more than 20 years old, it’s probably a conventional model that uses 3.5 to 5 or more gallons per flush. Consider replacing your older toilet with a low-flush model that uses 1.6 gallons of water per flush.
If possible, opt for a dual-flush system that allows you to regulate the amount of water depending on your need. You will see a considerable drop in your water use, and you will recover the investment within a few years.
If a new toilet isn’t in your budget, create a water displacement device by filling a plastic container with water or pebbles and dropping it into your toilet tank. Be sure that the device does not interfere with the function of your toilet. With this trick, you can save one gallon of water per flush with minimal cost and installation.
Switch the showerhead
Showers account for 20 percent of the water used in an average home. For less than $10, you can install a low-flow showerhead that halves your water usage during your shower.
As an added bonus, a low-flow showerhead will decrease your electric or gas bill by reducing the amount of hot water you need to heat.
Install aerators for your faucets
Faucet aerators cut the flow of water much like low-flow showerheads. You can install them on kitchen and bathroom sinks to use up to 75 percent less water every time you wash dishes or brush your teeth. Faucet aerators cost only a few dollars and are easy to install.
Get the most from your appliances
Because dishwashers generally use less water than washing by hand, let the machine do the work. Make sure it’s full before starting so you don’t waste your water on just a few plates. The same applies to the washing machine — especially if your appliance lacks a setting for smaller loads.
When buying your next dishwasher or washing machine, look for Energy Star appliances that use only a fraction of the water used by older models. While an older top-loading washing machine uses up to 40 gallons of water per load, more efficient Energy Star models use as little as 14. Compared to a dishwasher purchased before 1994, an Energy Star model will save an average of 1,600 gallons of water over its lifetime.
Find drought-resistant plants such as cacti, flowers, succulents, and even herbs that will bring color to the outside of your home without draining your water supply. Many of these low-maintenance plants will also save you on time and the cost of fertilizer.
If you can’t bear to part with your favorite thirsty plants, consider arranging your garden so that plants with similar water needs are planted together. That way you can concentrate the most water on areas that need it while saving on areas that don’t.
Make your irrigation count by watering your garden early in the morning and evening to prevent evaporation. Adding mulch to your garden will slow the evaporation of soil and minimize water runoff. If your soil is particularly parched and hard, using cycle and soak irrigation will maximize the water that is soaked up by the ground.
Skip washing your car at home
Washing your car at home uses anywhere from 40 to 140 gallons of water. Head to a professional car wash that uses up to 65 percent less water thanks to reclamation systems that recycle the water many times over. You’ll save on your water bill and help the environment.
If you must wash your car in the comfort of your driveway, turn off the hose when you don’t need it.
Cover the pool
Pools are not necessarily a waste of water as long as you cover them to prevent evaporation and keep the water level low to avoid splashing.
If your pool is heated, lowering the temperature will also help to minimize evaporation. Once you’ve implemented all your new water-saving tricks, nothing will feel more luxurious than swimming in a large pool of precious water.