When it’s 100 degrees on a Texas summer day, water seems to be on everyone’s minds. But when winter rolls around, the topic of water conservation and perhaps even our appreciation of our water sources often slips away. The winter months are a great time to consider how you can conserve water indoors and reap the benefits of lower water bills and more money in your pocket.
The indoor water tasks that we do every day, like cooking and showering, can contribute to a great deal of water waste. According to the United State Environmental Protection Agency, the average American family of four uses 400 gallons of water per day, and on average, 70% of that water is used indoors.
Luckily, there are a variety of indoor water conservation tips that save water and money. While all the different tips and tricks may seem overwhelming, conserving water in your home is simple. A few small changes can have a big impact on your wallet and the environment.
To make indoor water conservation straightforward, split up your conservation strategies into three sections: the kitchen, the laundry room, and the bathroom. These areas of your home likely use the highest amount of water compared to others, so focus on these areas.
Before you do anything, verify that your entire home is leak-free by reading your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter doesn’t read the same at the end of the two hours, you have a leak. According to Take Care of Texas, household leaks in Texas could waste more than 90 billion gallons of water each year, so checking for leaks is the most important step you can take for indoor water conservation.
Here are some other tips:
In the bathroom
The bathroom is the top consumer of indoor water, claiming nearly 75% of the water used indoors. A toilet alone can use 27% of household water!
• If you are looking to save water, consider replacing your toilet. Toilet’s with the WaterSense® or ENERGY STAR label use 60% less water than a standard toilet.
• A leaky toilet can waste about 200 gallons of water each day. To check for a toilet leak, add food coloring to the tank. If the toilet is leaking, color will appear in the toilet bowl within 30 minutes. Be sure to flush as soon as the test is complete as food coloring may stain the tank. If you have a leak, call a plumber.
• Avoid unnecessary flushing. Remember the three P’s are the only things that belong in the toilet—pee, poo and (toilet) paper.
• A simple tip is turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, shaving or washing your face. By doing this, a single person can save more than 200 gallons a month.
• Replace showerheads with a more efficient low-flow model. Replacing a single showerhead can save 2,900 gallons of water per family.
• Replace any worn washers and valves on sinks and pipes.
• And, consider taking shorter showers instead of baths.
In the kitchen
• If you have a dishwasher, use it. Hand-washing dishes takes more time than using a dishwasher, so letting the dishwasher do the work will save you money and water.
• With that in mind, the EPA states that not rinsing dishes before loading them into the dishwasher could potentially save up to 10 gallons per load. Remember to run the dishwasher only when fully loaded and use the light wash feature when possible.
• If you wash your dishes by hand, don’t leave the water running. Simply fill the sink with soapy water and rinse as needed.
• Install a faucet aerator, a small round device that you can attach to the tip of your faucet that creates a more consistent stream of water.
• Installing an instant water heater near your kitchen sink will speed up the time it takes for your water to heat up. These small appliances reduce water waste and energy costs. Also, insulating your water pipes will help get you hot water faster as well.
• When cooking, steam your vegetables instead of boiling them in a full pot of water. Not only is it healthier, but it also uses less water.
• At the same time, selecting the proper pan while cooking helps save water, as using a larger pan may require more water than necessary.
• Keep a pitcher of drinking water in your refrigerator. That way, you can use the pitcher water instead of running the sink when you need cool water.
• Like the dishwasher, only wash your clothes in full loads.
• Replacing your clothes washer with a newer model can save you money on your water and electric bills. Most washers built before 2003 are less efficient than the newer models and could be costing you an additional $190 a year in energy and water use.
• Be sure to use the appropriate water level/load size selection on the washing machine.
If you are interested in seeing how much money you can save by investing in high-efficiency washers, dishwashers, faucets, toilets and showerheads, use the EPA’s WaterSense water savings calculator here. This easy calculator helps you determine how much water, energy and money you can save by purchasing more efficient products.