The Practical Guide to Indoor Water Conservation
California legislators have recently been in the news for passing a law that would make wasting water a $500-a-day offense. But California isn’t the only place in the country that water conservation is an issue. Water restrictions can be found across the majority of the Southwest and even as far east as Georgia! With that in mind, we created the Practical Guide to Conserving Water Indoors. While everything on this list won’t have the same impact, every little bit counts, – even reusing your ice cubes to water your houseplants! We’ve decided to divide our guide into easy, bite-sized sections that cover that major areas of the home. We’ll start in the number one area for water use in the house, the bathroom.
- Check your current showerhead for flow rate. If the rate indicated on the head is more than 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm), purchase a WaterSense labeled showerhead t replace it. If you are not sure how much water your shower uses, try to fill a one gallon bucket in the shower. If it takes less than 20 seconds, you will save water by changing it out.
- Buy a shower timer or use an alarm to limit your showers to 5 minutes or less. Every minute you shorten your shower will save you over 50 gallons of water per month. A family of 4 could save upwards of 200 gallons per month just by shaving one minute off daily showers.
- Speaking of shaving, and other things you do at the bathroom sink like brushing your teeth, turn off the faucet while you aren’t using it. You could save 5 to 10 gallons every time you shave or brush even if you have a low flow faucet!
- Yeah, Low flow faucets are a thing. A normal faucet can use up to 4 gallons of water per minute. Replacing it with a WaterSense labeled one can save up to 2.5 gallons a minute. Don’t want to shell out $100 on a new faucet, buy an aerator for each one at $10 each.
- Speaking of shelling out cash, one place where you’d be well served by doing so is with your toilet. If your toilet was manufactured before 1992, you’re wasting water with every flush. Even those toilets aren’t the best. They use about 3.5 gallons of water per flush. New, low flow toilets only use 1.6 gallons. Dual flush models allow you to use a 1.1 gallon flush for liquid waste.
- Toilets use the most water in the bathroom, and if yours leaks that can make it even worse. Check for a flapper leak with a dye test (food coloring is a good choice). Replacing the flapper on a leaky toilet could save 1000s of gallons every year.
- Plug the drain when you start filling up your bathtub. Adjust the temperature while the tub fills to prevent losing water down the drain waiting for it to warm. Even better, don’t take a bath. Every bath uses 70+ gallons of water where a 5 minute show could use as little as 12.5 gallons.
- Have your leaky faucets fixed. A single drip every minute adds up to 5 gallons every day. If you have multiple leaks across multiple faucets or showerheads, this could add up quickly.
- If you’re waiting for the water to warm up in the shower, collect the cool water in a bucket and use it to water your plants. If you don’t have indoor plants, use the water on your outdoor plants.
- If you are doing dishes by hand, fill up one basin with soapy water and the other for rinsing. This can save 100s of gallons over running water. Even better, use a dishwasher. Dishwashers use far less water than washing and rinsing by hand.
- Instead of rinsing dishes over the garbage disposal and running water down, scrape them over the trash can. This goes for pots and pans as well.
- Fill a pan with water to rinse your fruits and vegetables instead of using running water. You can save 10 or more gallons this way. Bonus water savings – use the water from the vegetable rinse to water your house plants.
- Consider purchasing an instahot water heater in your kitchen. It will heat the water on demand and reduce the wasted water you use while waiting for hot water from the water heater to reach your tap.
- Consider a drinking water pitcher for your refrigerator. This way you’ll always have a glass of cold water handy and you won’t have to run the tap to get it.
General Indoor Usage
- Keep a close eye on your water bill. An unexpected increase could indicate a hidden leak somewhere in your home. Have your home inspected by a licensed plumber if you see this type of increase with no changes in your daily habits.
- Look for leaks around the house at least once a month. Leaks can be found at indoor or outdoor faucets, pipe connections and along hose lines. Don’t forget to check behind the washing machine!
- Only run your dishwasher or washing machine when they are full. If you are in the habit of running them daily, you could save over 1,000 gallons of water a month.
- If you have a fish tank, when you clean it out, pour the water on your plants. The water contains nitrates that are perfect for the plant growth.
- Set your water softener so that it runs the minimum number of times necessary for the water you use throughout the day. Most 4 person households can go two days between softener cycles.
- Washing your dog? Do it outside in an area of the lawn needs watering. That way you aren’t wasting water down the drain.
Obviously there are some little things that you can do every day that will help you reduce the amount of water you are using or wasting. The real key is being conscious of what you are using your water for.