Aside from replacing water-guzzling appliances, fixtures and fittings with efficient models, try these
other simple steps for conserving water:
• Fix all leaks.
A leaky faucet, dripping at a rate of one drip per second, can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water each year. One leaky toilet can waste about 200 gallons of water a day. To check for leaks in general, read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter doesn’t read exactly the same, you probably have a leak.
• Shower rather than bathe.
A full bathtub requires about 70 gallons of water, while taking a five-minute shower uses just 10 to 25 gallons. Limit your showers to the time it takes to soap up, wash down and rinse off.
• Water the garden wisely.
A typical single-family suburban household uses at least 30 percent of its water outdoors for irrigation. Some experts estimate that more than 50 percent of landscape water use goes to waste due to evaporation or runoff from overwatering. Drip irrigation systems use between 20 and 50 percent less water than conventional in-ground sprinkler systems.
• Control your faucet.
The average bathroom faucet flows at a rate of 2 gallons per minute. If you turn off the tap while brushing your teeth or shaving, you can save up to 8 gallons of water per day, or 240 gallons a month.
The average standard washing machine uses about 41 gallons of water per load. High-efficiency washing machines use fewer than 28 gallons of water per load. To achieve even greater savings, wash only full loads of laundry or use the appropriate load size selection on the washing machine.
• Don’t flush money away. If your toilet was made in 1992 or earlier, you probably have an
inefficient model that uses at least 3.5 gallons per flush. New and improved high-efficiency models
use less than 1.3 gallons per flush. Compared to an inefficient toilet, a WaterSense-labeled toilet could save a family of four more than $90 annually on their water bill, and $2,000 over the lifetime of the toilet. Alternatively, you can upgrade an old toilet more affordably by replacing the flush mechanism with a dual-flush toilet valve kit. One company that makes them is Flush Choice, and they’re available for around $60 at Green Depot stores.
• Install water-saving showerheads and low-flow faucet aerators.
Inexpensive water-saving showerheads or restrictors are easy to install. For less than $15, you can install one of these yourself and save up to 500 gallons per year.
• Wash wisely. In addition to fully loading dishwashers for optimum water conservation, avoid
prerinsing dishes to save water, and if possible, do not wash dishes by hand. The water in a sink
doesn’t get hot enough to kill bacteria and leaving water running for rinsing wastes water.