Most of us in the U.S. are easily able to access clean water. We simply turn on a faucet and it’s there. Until we face drought conditions, we typically don’t give thought to how water is a scarce, precious resource.
Only 1% of the world’s water is freshwater that is accessible for human use; global demand for this water increases by 2.3% each year. This means that we need to take water conservation seriously! Unfortunately, the U.S. uses excessive amounts of water. We have the highest per capita water use in the world, with an average daily domestic water use of 100 gallons per resident.
Water conservation may sound like a vague or challenging idea, but there are actually a number of easy things we can do within our homes to reduce how much water we use.
Ways to reduce water use in the home
In the bathroom
- Use low-volume toilets.
- Routinely check for toilet leaks. Repair leaks as needed.
- Avoid using toilet tank tablets (these can change the pH of the water in the tank, leading to leaks as the rubber and plastic parts become damaged).
- Consider waiting to flush the toilet until absolutely necessary.
- Use low-flow showerheads.
- Take brief showers.
- Consider turning off the shower while you lather with soap and shampoo.
- Place a bucket under the shower while you wait for the water to warm up. Use this water to irrigate your plants.
- Use low-flow faucet aerators.
- Don’t run the faucet continuously while shaving or brushing your teeth.
- Routinely check for faucet leaks. Repair leaks as needed.
In the kitchen
- Use a high-efficiency dishwasher.
- Only run the dishwasher when it is full.
- When hand-washing dishes, do not run the faucet continuously.
- Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge so you do not waste water while waiting for water from the faucet to cool when filling a glass.
- Collect water left in drinking glasses and use this to irrigate your plants.
- Avoid bottled water because it takes 1.5 gallons of water to manufacture a single plastic bottle (source).
- Don’t defrost frozen foods with running water. Instead, defrost foods in the fridge or use a bowl of water.
- Wash veggies and fruits in a large bowl of water, scrubbing them with a brush instead of using the faucet as a power-washer.
- When cooking, only use the amount of water that is required.
In the laundry room
- Use a high-efficiency clothes washer.
- Avoid running the washer when you only have a small load of clothes.
- Pretreat stains on clothes to reduce redundant washing.
- If your washer has a variable water volume setting, select the minimum amount of water appropriate for your load.
- Routinely check your washing machine hoses for leaks. Replace the hoses as needed.
- If clothing items are not particularly soiled, consider wearing them more than once before washing.
There are so many ideas here! We should all be able to implement at least a few approaches. Of course, these ideas only address water use inside the home. Next week we’ll consider how to conserve water outside the home. For additional information on water conservation, check out my sources: here, here, and here.
Did I miss any ideas? What things do you do to conserve water in your home?