Water is something we use every day without giving it much thought. From rinsing off produce to taking a shower to doing a load of laundry, water plays an integral role in many of our daily routines. However, it is important to remember that the amount of fresh water available for our consumption is extremely limited, and making just a few small changes to the way you use water can actually have a huge impact.

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 both your home’s water consumption and your energy bills. Similarly, choosing ENERGY STAR-qualified washing machines and dishwashers can cut the water you use for laundry and dishes by numerous gallons.

While energy-efficient appliances often come with a higher price tag than their less efficient counterparts, you can quickly recoup the price difference through energy bill savings and government rebates and tax breaks. Faucet and showerhead aerators are also 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. Choose WaterSense-labeled aerators to ensure the greatest savings.

Repair Leaks

Water leaks can be a huge drain on your finances over time. Even the smallest leaks waste water, so it is essential to pay attention to leak-prone areas such as sinks, toilets, and washing machines and to repair them when there is an issue. 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.

Don’t Let Water Run Unnecessarily

A big water-wasting culprit is running water when it isn’t necessary. 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, and 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.

Take 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 you have trouble keeping your shower time low, try finding a five-minute song to play while you are in there, and be sure to finish showering by the time it ends.

While this blog detailed some of the changes you can make inside your home to cut down on water wastefulness, there are also many things you can do outside to limit unnecessary water usage. Check back later this week for Part 2, which will focus on ways to conserve water outdoors.

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Sources: EPA; Forbes; HGTV; Natural Resource Defense Council.