8 Ways to Reduce Water Consumption in the Home

Given that it is essential to everything about our lives – from the basic physiological needs to stay alive through cultivation of food to industrial development and technological innovation – it can sometimes seem that we treat water with a disregard that does not even recognize its importance. It is as though we can’t envisage the supply every running out. But water is not an infinite resource, and it is becoming scarcer. As such, it is beholden to us all to do what we can to preserve water and avoid wasting it. Indeed, no less an authority than Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon said, in 2013, “Water is central to the well‐being of people and the planet. We must work together to protect and carefully manage this fragile, finite resource.” Here are some tips to help you reduce water consumption at home and garden.

Check for Leaks
It sounds minor, but regularly checking your home taps and appliances, as well as your garden water supply for leaks can save a significant amount of water. A faulty faucet on a tap causing it to drip continuously could, over a year, add up to several thousand liters of water wasted. A leaking tap is easy to spot, but a leaking toilet not so much. One way you can determine if your lavatory is leaking is to remove the cistern, place a few drop of food coloring into the cistern water, and wait 15 minutes or so. If during that time the dye has seeped into the bowl, you have a leak and need to investigate the cause.

Shower
Get in the habit of taking showers rather than baths. They use a lot less water, particularly if you install a water –efficient showerhead. Take shorter showers, staying in just enough time to get wet, lather and rinse, rather than standing in there soaking. A shorter shower time not only saves water, but also saves on the energy costs involved with heating the water. Knocking 2 minutes off your showering time can save you as much as 24 liters of water. Try to use organic shampoos and washes to limit the amount of chemicals going into the water system.

Bathe Smart
If you make showering your default method of washing, consider baths as occasional treats, but even then use them smartly. Only use as much as you need – the water level doesn’t have to come up to the rim – and keep testing the temperature as you fill, so you won’t have to add extra to get the right temperature. Rather than send the finished-with bath water down the plughole, you could use it to water the garden. You will need to make sure that any soaps, shampoos and detergents used in the bath are not damaging to plants.

Turn Taps Off
When you are brushing your teeth, turn the tap off until you need to rinse. Even better, fill a glass with water and use this to rinse your mouth and brush when you are done. When shaving, avoid rinsing your blade under running water; filling the basin with a little warm water and swishing the razor in that is just as effective at cleaning it and uses less water.

Flush Less
Fill a recycled plastic bottle with sand or gravel and place inside the cistern of your toilet (alternatively, you can use an old brick). This will mean that each flush of the toilet uses less water. Do check the capacity of your cistern though; you want to leave a minimum of 3 gallons in the cistern to ensure a proper flush. Otherwise, people may need to flush more than once, which would waste more water than you would be saving with each flush. You may also want to consider avoiding flushing when you have only urinated (but you’ll need the family on board for that).

At the Kitchen Sink
If you hand-wash dishes in the kitchen sink, avoid having the tap running to rinse the items, The most efficient way to rinse dishes is to wash them all and place in a rack, then sluice with a pan of warm water into the sink. Furthermore, limit your use of washing-up liquid, as this will lessen the need for rinsing. If you peel potatoes or wash other vegetables in the sink, don’t have the water running; fill a bowl and rinse the peeled vegetables in there, then pour the water onto the garden rather than down the sink.

Drinking Water
There is nothing like a cool drink of water on a warm day – particularly if you’ve been out working on your reduce water consumptionpermaculture plot. But running the tap to lower the temperature of the water is wasteful, so keep a large jug of water in the fridge so you have a cold drink always at hand. The same applies if you are using the hot tap and waiting for temperature to rise; catch all the water that comes out before it reaches the right temperature in a bowl and use to water the garden. To minimize the waiting time for hot water to come through the tap, insulate your water pipes. This also saves on the energy needed to heat the water, as less residual heat is lost through the pipes.

Appliances
If you have a dishwasher, only run it when you have a full load. The same goes for the washing machine in the laundry – running with a full load can save up to 10 liters of water compared to a half load. Some washing machines have controls that allow you to alter the water level to reflect the size of the load, so use this facility if you can’t wait to fill the machine. Detergents for use in the washing machine should ideally be organic and have a low concentration of salts. This reduces the chemical load that is sent into the municipal water system, and also, if you are inclined to use the system, makes the water from your washing machine safe to use as greywater for irrigating your permaculture plot.

31 comments

There is just as much water now as there was 10000 ago. If not, where did it go? Lol. And if you believe in global warming, which I don’t, then there would have to be more water with the ice melting, right?

same amount of water (more or less – what’s a few million acres of polar ice caps between friends), but a lot more people with a lot more ways of using and abusing that water…

I see why you don’t use you real name, dummy

Composting toilets.

I have always done these things. Can’t stand it when people just let the water run. Learned from my mother. Her generation always conserved on everything.

Grey water collection for toilet flushing and gardening. Absolute must. Daily cat baths in between showers is just fine. Just scrub all the “P” words.

MaryLena Anderegg

One of the most conservative methods I’ve seen was in Japan and it’s not even available here. The toilet tank top is a small lavatory with a gooseneck faucet. You wash your hands there and the water goes back into the tank to provide water for the next flush. That way, the water is used twice before it’s reprocessed and the lav is so small that you automatically use less.

I don’t have hot running water, so I’ve been doing the cat baths anyway. Note: Dry skin lotion removes a lot of dirt without needing to be rinsed off. Apply to damp washrag and scrub 🙂

Water is not a finite resource. If you want to talk about how the infinte resource of water can become unusable in terms of supporting life elaborate on the concept, but saying things that are not true to support an argument in the long run just doens’t help.

The biggest users of water are agriculture and industry, NOT individual humans. Perhaps we should be sending the message that we can’t have infinite growth on a finite planet instead of telling people to “take shorter showers”, which doesn’t amount to much in the grand scheme of things, and will only negatively impact your social life. If you really want to make a difference, stop big agriculture and industry from stealing our water and poisoning our aquifers.

How about 8 ways for corporations to not pollute water?

Thanks! shared it!

How about reduce consumption of animal products. That would be much more effective than any of the things mentioned in the article.

I keep waiting for the mass movement to start that tells the corporations/industries/agriculture to not waste water – now THAT would be some REAL conservation!

Everyone is waiting tho

Everyone is waiting tho

Put A Brick in the Commode Tank

I have low flow shower, only 4 gallons of heated water (electric) and wash dishes by hand using very little water. Shopping for a composting toilet. Not sure if the code in my city allows them.

I will be growing my own food in my Tower Garden. It uses only 10% of the water that is normally used to grow food the conventional way.. http://www.feedtheworld.towergarden.ca

Are you all kidding me? Go vegan and save hundreds of gallons of water with every meal. Saving 4 gallons every once in a while is LAME. Every hamburger not eaten saves the planet over 160 gallons of water.

I’ve been installing micro drip irrigation for 35 years. Also I farm green tea where I live ,and it’s on micro drip.

shower: 1 minute to get body wet. Shut off water. Soap from head to toe. Turn water on for 1 minute to rinse. Total time in shower? 5 minutes.

sink: use 2 dishpans. 1 with soapy water, 1 with clear rinsing water.

Samuel

So important to stop wasting water. Water conservation and recycling will change everything. There are methods to conserve 80% of household water use. For more see http://www.greennewworld.org/water.html

9. Vote Green!

I think we all need to do our part and every little bit counts but it feels so fruitless to fix a drip in the faucet when the hydro fracking industry is pumping billions of gallons of fresh water under ground with chemicals that will never come back up again unless it is in the form of polluting groundwater and surface streams. It feels kind of like taking a little splinter out from under your skin when you have a tree trunk rammed through your torso by the industry.

How about drinking your urine…

If it’s yellow, let it mellow.
If it’s brown, flush it down.

We’ve been going 1 & 2 on the lawn.

Haul your own water! We built a home requiring us to haul water and our consumption went down…

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