by Aileen Pablo
Blisteringly hot summer days may make you want to jump in the pool, run through the sprinklers, or spray each other with the hose, but there are plenty of ways to conserve water at home, too.
Beware of overwatering. If you have your own home, chances are you have a lawn that you want to keep nice and green. Unfortunately, less is more for most people, as studies have shown that U.S. homeowners tend to overwater their lawns by as much as 30%! Instead of watering lightly several times a week, try one thorough weekly soak. And if you get a good rain, you can hold off for as long as two weeks.
Reuse cooking water. Most of us don’t think twice about it when we make pasta or boil eggs and then toss that perfectly good water down the drain, but it can be a significant amount of waste. Instead of doing that, next time let it cool down and then use it to water the lawn or any plants you have.
Use a broom, not a hose. Spraying the driveway clean with a hose has become the norm, but did you know that a single cleaning can waste hundreds of gallons of water? It might take a bit longer, but it’s much better for the environment if you break out the broom and simply sweep the driveway clean.
Park on the grass. Wait, what? Lots of people like to wash their cars at home rather than paying for a car wash, but this is incredibly wasteful if you do it on the driveway. Instead, park on the grass and you’ll be cleaning your car and watering the lawn at the same time!
Wait until it’s full. It can be tempting to run the dishwasher or do a load of laundry when it’s not quite full, but do your best to avoid it – even if you really want to wear that new shirt or skirt. One dishwasher cycle uses 12 to 20 gallons of water, and the average washer uses 50 gallons for every load.
Save rain water. The best way to do this is to put rain barrels at your downspouts and collect the rain in giant 55-gallon drums. You can even buy a commercial rain barrel kit with PVC couplings, vinyl hose, rain barrel, and a grate to keep the bugs out, but most people aren’t willing to go quite so far – and if you’re not a farmer, you probably don’t need to. That rig will save you as much as 1,300 gallons of water a year, but even doing something as simple as setting out empty plastic jugs to collect water will help you save a bit.
Cover the pool. In very hot temperatures, pool water will simply evaporate, causing you to have to waste gallons and gallons to refill it. Minimize this problem by putting a cover on your pool to cut down on evaporation.
Cut down on bathroom time. Did you know that 74% of water usage at home comes in the bathroom? Do the world a favor and eliminate bathroom water waste by shortening your showers (set a timer if you have to!), only flushing when you need to, and keeping the sink off while doing things like brushing.
Stop leaking. Leaky pipes, fixtures, and faucets can account for up to 150 gallons of water per week – and that’s per leak! Stop wasting all that water – and money! – by having them repaired. It may cost more upfront money, but you’ll save a lot in the long run. The toilet is one of the worst offenders in this regard, potentially wasting up to 20,000 gallons a year if you have a leak.
Go low-flow. If you can afford the upfront cost (or if you need to replace something) buy low-flow toilets, faucets, and shower heads. It can save you 50% — or more – of the water you’re currently using.
Or dual flush. A low-flow toilet is great, but if you’re upgrading, you might as well get a dual flush toilet. While the name makes it sound like it would do the opposite of saving water, dual flush toilets are actually incredibly efficient. How? Because those two different flushes are used to get rid of different kinds of waste. Liquid removal requires less than a gallon, and solid removal is usually somewhere between 1.1 and 1.6 gallons per flush.
Keep cold water. As opposed to letting the water in the faucet run to get cold. Keeping refrigerated water instead of doing this can save you as much as 5 gallons of water a week.
Fill a pan to clean food. Most of us are accustomed to simply turning on the faucet and holding our fruits and veggies under the stream of water to clean them, but if you think about it, it should come as little shock that this method wastes lots of water. Instead, fill a pan up with water and use it to rinse your food.
Use a recirculating pump. Just like we do with cold water, most of us are used to turning on the tap and waiting for the water to get hot. You can avoid having to wait (and the waste that comes with letting all of that not-quite-hot-enough water go down the drain) by installing a recirculating pump to up the pressure and get hot water from your water heater quicker.
Increase your efficiency. High-efficiency washing machines and dishwashers not only decrease the amount of water you have to use to clean your dishes and clothes, they also tend to use quite a bit less energy – and detergent. This means that you’ll not only help the environment, but save yourself money in the process. Most appliances now will tell you right upfront how much water and energy they use per cycle. For washers, evidence points to the fact that front-loading models are the best at cutting down on water and cost.
Aileen Pablo is part of the team behind Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading providers of TAFE courses equivalent and interior design courses. When not working, Aileen blogs about travel, lifestyle, home improvement, and beauty tips. She is also often invited as a speaker in Personality Development Seminars in the Philippines.If you have a blog and would like free content. You can find her on Google+.
Rain barrel photo via Shutterstock