The average American uses 80 to 100 gallons of water a day. You may think you can’t possibly consume that much water each day, but you’d be surprised at how quickly your use adds up. As many areas around the country face water shortages, it’s up to all of us to do whatever we can to find ways to save this precious resource. Here are a few things you can do around the house to save water—and money—each month.
In the Bathroom
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), about 70 percent of water use in our country takes place indoors. The bathroom is where most water is used, which you might expect. What you might not know, however, is that the toilet alone can use a whopping 27 percent of all the water in the home. Here are some ways you can save water in this part of your house.
Toilets – According to the EPA, older toilets use up to seven gallons per flush, while newer models use only about 1.6 gallons. One of the best things you can do to save water around the house is to replace your older toilet with a newer unit.
You should also check for leaks around the toilet as well. If yours continues to run throughout the day, you could be wasting a staggering 200 gallons per day. Checking for a leak is simple. Put a few drops of food coloring in the tank. Do not flush the toilet. Wait about 15 minutes, and check the toilet bowl water. If the water is colored, you have a leak somewhere. If not, then you don’t have a leak. If you have a leak, call a professional plumber to get it fixed.
Showers – If you have an older shower head, you could save nearly 3,000 gallons a year and shave $70 off your yearly water bill by installing a new one. There are several newer models available that are not only water efficient, but look great as well. A low-flow shower head may be a little more expensive, but it will more than pay for itself down the road through cheaper water bills.
There are a few other easy things you can do to save water in the shower like spending less time showering. If you can, take a radio into the bathroom and see how many songs it takes you to finish. A great goal would be to try and get it down to one song.
You should consider a bath as a once-in-a-while luxury. While a 10-minute shower using a low-flow showerhead uses about 25 gallons, the average bath can take up to 50 gallons.
In the Kitchen
For most homeowners, the kitchen is another room where a great deal of water is used on a regular basis. Here are some of the ways you can cut back.
Cooking – If you’re in the habit of letting the faucet run while you’re cooking, try to break that habit as soon as you can. Also, consider installing a low-flow faucet. While a conventional faucet typically flows at about five gallons per minute, low-flow models usually flow at about 1.5 gallons a minute.
When you’re preparing fruits and vegetables, put them in a large bowl filled with water and use a vegetable brush to scrub them. That is far more water-efficient than using your faucet to wash them. When you’re defrosting frozen foods, use the refrigerator instead of the sink.
When boiling eggs, potatoes or pasta, you need just enough water to cover them in the pot. In fact, the less water you put in the pot, the more flavorful and nutritious your vegetables will be. Once you’re done boiling, don’t pour the water down the sink—use it to water your plants after it cools.
Drinking water – Instead of running the faucet each time, consider keeping some in a pitcher or a bottle in the refrigerator. Tap water is more environmentally friendly than bottled water. Approximately 1.5 gallons of water goes into making one plastic bottle.
Dishwashing – If you have an older dishwasher, consider replacing it with a newer, more water-efficient model. Not only will it help you save money down the road, it will also help save energy as well. When you do need to hand wash dishes, use just a little water—enough to get your sponge wet/soapy. Plug the sink so you don’t have to keep the faucet running while you wash.
In the Laundry Room
If you’re thinking about replacing your old washing machine, newer models typically use only about 27 gallons per load while older units can use as much as 54 gallons a load.
You can also save water—and some wear and tear on your jeans—by not washing them as often. Consider drying clothes on a clothesline or a drying rack whenever possible. This saves energy, which, in turn, saves the water it takes to produce electricity.
Whenever you flush a toilet, turn on a faucet, shower or use a washing machine, remember that these little tips can go a long way toward saving water. This is a vital resource that should never be taken for granted—any steps you take to conserve water will not only help the environment, but will also help your pocketbook.
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image: Michal Mojek