The issue of Peak Oil is a hot topic these days, but an issue that will ultimately affect us even more will be Peak Water. To be more succinct, we’re running out of water. If we don’t act now to try to curtail our domestic water consumption, we’re squandering one of our most precious resources.
Freshwater is so incredibly important to us, not only for drinking and washing, but for growing our food. Irrigation accounts for up to one third of our freshwater use, the largest demand on our water supply. The average American household uses about 80 to 100 gallons a day, mostly to flush the toilet. After that, the water we use for washing ourselves and our clothes is the next biggest use.
So how can we cut down on our domestic water usage? There are some simple and affordable steps you can take to keep your personal water consumption down, and they don’t entail bathing in a bucket, either.
Household Water Saving Tips
- Flushing the toilet every time you visit the bathroom is a hard habit to break for most people, but if you follow one single rule, you can make a big impact on your bathroom water use: “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down”. Don’t go for the flush lever if there’s only urine in the bowl. That’s like pouring 3 or more gallons of fresh, treated water right down the drain.
- Replace your old high water use toilet with a new low flush model, or even a dual flush model.
- If you can’t afford to replace your toilet, or you live in a rental, try filling a plastic jug with water and placing it in your tank to displace the water that would normally be flushed away. This will save a gallon per flush. Some recommend putting a brick or two in your tank, but make sure they are clean and solid, as you don’t want to call a plumber because your toilet’s clogged with brick pieces.
- Turn off the water when brushing your teeth. Simple and easy, but another hard habit to break.
- Take ‘Navy’ showers. If it’s warm weather, try this: Get in, get wet, turn the water off. Soap up, turn the water on to rinse, then turn it off again. Repeat for washing your hair.
- Install a low-flow shower head in the bath. Most of these are adjustable, so you aren’t trying to shower with just a dribble.
- Buy a water saver/aerator for your faucets. This will give the appearance of the same volume of water coming out of the tap, but will actually use less.
- If you need to run the tap to get hot water, place a bucket or pan under the tap to catch the cold water coming out first. Use this water for house plants, dish washing, dog and cat water, or even to flush the toilet (just pour it into the bowl instead of using the flush lever). Consider an instant water heater, which will also save on electric costs.
- If you have an efficient dishwasher, use it, but only run it when it’s full. If you don’t, wash dishes with dishpans instead of running the water constantly. Fill one with soapy water to wash, and one with clean water for rinsing. If you need a final rinse, run them briefly under the tap at the end.
- Only run the washing machine when it’s full.
- Start composting your kitchen waste instead of running it through the disposal with a bunch of water. The finished product of compost will then help your yard and garden use less water throughout the growing season.