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Water is something we use every day without giving it much thought. From rinsing off produce to taking a shower or doing a load of laundry, water is important to many of our daily routines. However, we have to remember that the amount of fresh water available for our consumption is extremely limited.
Making just a few small changes to the way you use water can actually have a huge impact. Read on for some ideas for using water efficiently (and keeping your water bill in check).
8 Ways to Save on Your Water Bill
1. Use WaterSense and ENERGY STAR appliances.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a system called WaterSense that rates toilets, faucets, and showerheads for water efficiency. By choosing WaterSense-labeled products, you can reduce the amount of water your household uses.
Faucet and showerhead aerators are a good alternative if replacing appliances doesn’t fit into your current budget. Aerators are relatively inexpensive, and they reduce the amount of water that flows from faucets.
Similarly, choosing ENERGY STAR-qualified washing machines and dishwashers can further cut the amount of water you use for laundry and dishes. While energy-efficient appliances often cost more than their less efficient counterparts, there are ways to recoup the price difference. You’ll see immediate savings on your energy and water bills. Also look into rebates and tax breaks. Some appliances come with these types of incentives.
2. Repair leaks.
Water leaks can be a huge drain on your finances over time. Even the smallest leaks waste water. Pay attention to leak-prone areas around the house, like sinks, toilets, and washing machines. Repair them promptly when there is an issue.
A leaking toilet is a sneaky leak that can waste a lot of water (and money). To find out if you have a toilet leak, put a few drops of food coloring in the tank and wait a few minutes; if the water in the toilet bowl turns the color of the food coloring before you flush the toilet, you have a leak. A plumber can fix this problem.
3. Don’t let water run unnecessarily.
A big water-wasting culprit is running water when you don’t really need it. Turn off faucets while you are shaving or brushing your teeth since you are not actually using the water at that point.
Likewise, if it takes time for your shower to heat up before you can get in, put a bucket under the faucet while you’re running the water to get it warm. Use what you collect to water your plants. Another way to save water is by washing only full loads of dishes and laundry rather than doing smaller, more frequent loads.
4. Take (short) showers instead of baths.
According to the National Resource Defense Council, shortening your shower by just two minutes can save up to five gallons of water. If time seems to just slip away while you’re under the warm water, find a five-minute song to play while you are in there. Make it your goal to finish showering by the time the song ends.
5. Choose native plants.
The first step to saving water in your yard is planning the landscape around that goal. Use plants that are native to your area. Native plants are adapted to exist easily in the climate. This means that they’ll need less watering, fertilization, and pesticides.
Try to fill a lot of your yard space up with plants, trees, and shrubs rather than grass, which requires the most watering. Once you’ve chosen plants, try to group plants with similar needs together. This will help you avoid overwatering anything.
6. Install an efficient irrigation system.
Manually watering your lawn has traditionally been the better option for conserving water, but modern irrigation systems have changed that. Irrigation and sprinkler systems now have lots of features to reduce unnecessary watering.
Drip irrigation systems are the most efficient, but other types of systems are efficient, too. Many sprinkler systems come equipped with rain and soil-moisture sensors. These sensors ensure the lawn won’t be watered if it is already wet. Certain settings and timers can also be adjusted as needed. When your sprinkler system is installed, the crew will arrange the sprinkler heads in the most efficient way. The last thing you want to do is water the sidewalk!
7. Fight evaporation.
The best time to water your lawn is in the early morning. Watering at night leaves the soil damp for hours. This can make your lawn vulnerable to rot and disease. Afternoon heat can cause water to evaporate too quickly.
Putting down mulch in your yard can help keep soil cool. This gives water more time to sink in through the day rather than evaporating as soon as daytime temperatures rise. If you have a pool, prevent evaporation there as well by covering your pool whenever it is not in use.
8. Wash cars with a bucket and sponge instead of a hose.
If you plan on washing your cars at home, use buckets of water instead of hosing your car down. This tactic reduces the amount of water you use. If you must use a hose, turn off the spray nozzle when you aren’t using it.
For a more hands-off approach, run through a carwash. They’re typically pretty efficient. They also route their runoff to the appropriate drains. This prevents contaminated water from entering the city’s water supply through storm drains.
Clever Tips to Save Water
- Install a hot water recirculating pump. You might need a plumber for this one, but it’s worth it. A recirculating pump circulates hot water through your plumbing system at set times during the day. This means that you won’t have to let the shower run for five minutes for the water to warm up. Quick hot water means less wasted water!
- Use a sink strainer and compost bin instead of the garbage disposal. Using your garbage disposal to grind up food scraps isn’t great for your plumbing. And because you need to run the faucet to use the garbage disposal, it wastes water, too. When you compost those scraps instead, you’ll have rich organic matter for your yard and reduce your water use.
- Consider xeriscaping instead of a conventional landscape. Xeriscaping is a type of landscape design that doesn’t need extra watering or irrigation. Talk to a landscaping expert about what xeriscaping your yard would involve.
- Don’t pour out half-full glasses and bottles of water. Instead, water your houseplants or fill up the cat’s water bowl. Just don’t pour it down the drain!
Saving water isn’t necessarily hard to do. But it does take some conscious planning. Just like anything in life, you have to make it a priority. The good news is that a little work on your end can have financial rewards. The reality is that water isn’t free (unless you have your own well). Reducing your household’s water use is good for the environment and your bank account.