Water Conservation Tips and Ideas
Conservation In the Bathroom
The bathroom accounts for 75 percent of the water used inside the home. Each toilet flush uses up to five gallons of water.
Steps include identifying leaky toilets by putting food coloring in your toilet tank. If the color shows up in the bowl without the toilet being flushed, you have a leak to repair. A drip or a leak can waste hundreds of gallons of water per day.
Practice water conservation when remodeling your bathroom or building a new house. Consider some of the water saving toilets available:
- conventional U.S. toilets use five gallons of water per flush
- common low flush toilets use three and one half gallons per flush
- ultra low volume toilets use one and one half gallons per flush
- the air-assisted toilets uses one half gallon per flush (a potential savings of 90 percent).
Or consider installing a demand type hot water system such as the Chilipepper appliance, an effective measure that not only conserves water and energy, but actually adds convenience to your kitchen or bathroom.
You could save up to 27 percent more water by taking showers instead of baths (if the shower discharge is less than three gallons per minute the duration is less than eight minutes). Test your shower consumption by plugging the bathtub drain during your shower. When finished, compare the water level to your typical bath water level.
To save even more water, turn the shower on to get wet, turn the water off while you lather up, then turn it back on to rinse. Combine several activities in the shower: wash your hair, shave, and belt out your favorite song about water conservation of course!
Install a Chilipepper appliance if you have a long wait for hot water. The Chilipepper can save a typical household up to 15,000 gallons of water per year.
When you are brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing you face, turn off your water. This could save between 10 and 20 gallons of water per person every day.
Increase your water savings further by installing low-flow shower heads, toilet dams, or other devices designed to reduce the amount of water used in a toilet, shower or sink. After installing a low flow shower head or sink fixture you will find that it takes longer to get hot water than before you installed it.
By installing a Chilipepper appliance you can reduce the wait, and save even more water.
Make sure the hot water heater thermostat isn’t set too high. Extremely high settings waste water and energy when the water has to be cooled down for use.
In the Kitchen
Doing dishes by hand can save twice the water used in a dishwasher. When washing dishes by hand, don’t leave the water running, plug the sink or use a portable dishpan.
Save 14 to 17 percent more water by doing only full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine. And when it comes time to buy new appliances, look for those that are water-efficient and have settings for water-saving cycles.
The number one reason for poor dishwasher performance is water temperature that is too low on the first cycle.
By using a Chilipepper appliance you can be sure to have full temperature water available for that first fill.
If using a dishpan for dishwashing, carefully carry the water outside and dump it on your garden or lawn to give your lawn or garden an extra drink (during the summer your plants will appreciate the effort).
When cleaning vegetables and fruit, plug the sink or use a portable tub instead of rinsing under running water (save this water for your plants, too). Accumulate the vegetable and fruit trimmings and other waste before you use the garbage disposal. Dispose of all the waste at once, flushing with cold water.
Use a little water and a lid on the pot when cooking most food. This method uses less water and any left over water can be applied to your plants (be sure to let it cool first). Instead of running the tap water to get a cold drink, keep a container of drinking water in the refrigerator.
Throughout the House
If you have a fish tank, save the dirty water to use on your house plants. Fish emulsion is a good and inexpensive fertilizer high in nitrogen and phosphorous. You will be getting two benefits in one: fertilizer and water savings.
A drip or a leak anywhere inside or outside the house can waste hundreds of gallons of water per day. Check all water line connections and faucets for leaks. If they are leaking or dripping, tighten the connections or replace worn washers.
Cleaning the family car is another way to practice water conservation. When washing the car, fill a bucket with warm soapy water, wash with a sponge, and use the hose only for a quick final rinse. This cuts down on the chance to squirt family members with the hose, but throwing wet sponges at each other can be fun, too.
For the Lawn
When cleaning leaves or other debris from your lawn, driveway, or sidewalk, use a broom or rake instead of water from a hose. While outside look for more ways to practice water conservation.
Did you know that more than half of the residential water used in a typical western city goes to outdoor landscape watering? Here is a great chance for an individual to save water – reduce turf areas and plant native ground cover, flowers, shrubs, and trees. Generally, native plants require less water. This technique is called xeriscape gardening.
The native grasses also grow at a slower rate, requiring less mowing. For difficult areas in your lawn, such as steep slopes, consider ground covers which require some weeding but very little water.
If your lawn thrives on 45 minutes of water every two or three days, it will not remain as healthy if you water 15 to 20 minutes every day. Your lawn also won’t be as healthy if you water for one and one half hours every five or six days. Soil can’t absorb that much water all at once and the extra runoff won’t help your grass.
Once you have determined the amount of water your lawn needs, keep track of that time. A sprinkler left on in one spot for more than the needed time wastes water. Set an alarm clock or timer as a reminder to move the sprinkler.
A sign of a dry lawn is grass that turns a dull gray-green. If only certain areas along sidewalks or driveways, for example, are gray and the rest of the lawn is green, only water the dry areas.
In good soil, less frequent, but heavier watering encourages a deeper root system and helps the lawn better tolerate hot weather.
Grassy areas on the sunny southern sides of buildings, on slopes, and areas near sidewalks and driveways need to be watered more often. Shady areas and northern exposures can be watered less frequently.
If you have an automatic sprinkler system, make sure it is not watering too long or too often. Automatic sprinklers should be used when the water demand is at its lowest – 4 a.m. to 6 a.m.
With or without an automatic sprinkler system, it is wise to water during the evening or early morning hours. Water applied to a lawn during the hottest part of the day tends to evaporate before it has time to soak into the roots of the grass.
Adjust lawn watering to the weather. Following a heavy rain, skip your regular watering day until the grass needs it. Know how to turn off your automatic sprinkler system until it is needed again. Water flow can be controlled at the water outlet by the type of sprinkler used and by the size of the garden hose.
More water is dispensed faster with larger diameter hose. Oscillating sprinklers are very inefficient. Sprinklers throwing large drops of water in flat patterns are more effective than those with fine, high sprays.
When watering near sidewalks, driveways, and patios, push a root feeder or water aerator into the soil 12 to 16 inches from the concrete. Force the water jets down to a depth of four to six inches. When the grass raises up like a bubble, remove the spike and repeat the operation 12 inches farther along the grass edge.
Use a root watering device on shrubs and trees to get the water deep down under soil surface. If the trees and shrubs get watered deeply enough, they will need less water.
For any small area of grass, water by hand to avoid any waste of water. A type of sprinkler called a “soaker” when used properly, or a “sweating-type hose” will help prevent runoff of water on slopes.
Delay regular watering of grass during the first cool weeks of spring. This encourages deeper rooting and makes your lawn healthier for the rest of the summer. (This also delays the first time you have to mow!)
Be careful! Water the landscape only, not streets, walks and driveways. (We already have plenty of concrete and don’t want to grow any more).
After successfully mastering the best techniques for your lawn, you now find you have to mow the green stuff! Keep grass fairly long – taller grass holds moisture better.
Cut the lawn often (once a week is good, and offers the kids another opportunity to earn their allowance) so that only one half to three quarters of an inch is cut at a time. This prevents the excessive shock that causes grass to turn yellow.
Keep your grass two to three inches long. Mow often enough to cut only 30 percent of the length of the blades of grass.
The human body is more than three-quarters water. Water is essential to existence, not only for people, but for plants and animals as well.
Water covers 70 percent of the earth’s surface. At least 97 percent of the world’s water is salty and undrinkable. Another two percent of the earth’s water is polluted, polar ice, or otherwise inaccessible and undrinkable. That leaves approximately one percent of the earth’s water for humans to use.
On a daily basis, the people of the United States, directly and indirectly, use more than 380 billion gallons of water, or approximately 1,668 gallons per person.
In a typical western city, we use approximately 500 gallons per day per household, and an average of 150 gallons per household are used before breakfast.
In Australia, the average daily use is 876 gallons. In Great Britain they use approximately 185 gallons per day and in Switzerland they only use 77 gallons per person per day.
Indirect uses of water also add up quickly:
- Each gallon of gasoline per week requires 1,000 gallons of water to produce.
- Each can of soda requires 29,000 gallons of water to produce.
- Each newspaper requires 66,000 gallons of water to produce.
- Each glass of restaurant water requires two glasses of water for washing and rinsing.