water conservation in the home…
faucets and pipes for leaks
A small drip from a worn
faucet washer can waste 20 gallons of water per day. Larger leaks can waste
hundreds of gallons.
2. Don’t use
the toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket
you flush a cigarette butt, facial tissue or other small bit of trash, five to
seven gallons of water is wasted.
3. Check your toilets for leaks
Put a little food
coloring in your toilet tank. If, without flushing, the color begins to appear
in the bowl within 30 minutes, you have a leak that should be repaired
immediately. Most replacement parts are inexpensive and easy to
4. Use your water meter to
check for hidden water leaks
Read the house water meter
before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter
does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.
5. Install water-saving
shower heads and low-flow faucet aerators
Inexpensive water-saving low-flow
shower heads or restrictors are easy for the homeowner to
install. Also, long, hot showers can use five to ten gallons every unneeded
minute. Limit your showers to the time it takes to soap up, wash down and rinse
off. “Low-flow” means it uses less than 2.5 gallons per minute.
easily install a ShowerStart
showerhead, or add a ShowerStart converter
to existing showerheads, which automatically pauses a running shower once it
Also, all household faucets should be fit with
aerators. This single
best home water conservation method is also the cheapest!
6. Put plastic
bottles or float booster in your toilet tank
To cut down on water waste, put an inch
or two of sand or pebbles inside each of two plastic bottles to weigh them down.
Fill the bottles with water, screw the lids on, and put them in your toilet
tank, safely away from the operating mechanisms. Or, buy an inexpensive
bank or float booster. This may save ten or more gallons of
water per day.
Be sure at least 3 gallons of water remain in the tank so
it will flush properly. If there is not enough water to get a proper flush,
users will hold the lever down too long or do multiple flushes to get rid of
waste. Two flushings at 1.4 gallons is worse than a single 2.0 gallon flush. A
better suggestion would be to buy an adjustable
toilet flapper that allow for adjustment of their per flush use.
Then the user can adjust the flush rate to the minimum per flush setting that
achieves a single good flush each time.
For new installations, consider
buying “low flush” toilets, which use 1 to 2 gallons per flush instead of the
usual 3 to 5 gallons.
Replacing an 18 liter per flush
toilet with an ultra-low volume (ULV) 6 liter flush model represents a 70%
savings in water flushed and will cut indoor water use by about
7. Insulate your water pipes.
It’s easy and inexpensive to insulate your water pipes with pre-slit
foam pipe insulation. You’ll get hot water faster plus avoid wasting water while
it heats up.
8. Take shorter showers.
way to cut down on water use is to turn off the shower after soaping up, then
turn it back on to rinse. A four-minute shower uses approximately 20 to 40
gallons of water.
9. Turn off the water after you wet
There is no need to keep the water running
while brushing your teeth. Just wet your brush and fill a glass for mouth
10. Rinse your razor in the
Fill the sink with a few inches of warm water. This will rinse
your razor just as well as running water, with far less waste of
11. Use your dishwasher and clothes washer for
only full loads
Automatic dishwashers and clothes washers
should be fully loaded for optimum water conservation. Most makers of
dishwashing soap recomend not pre-rinsing dishes which is a big water savings.
With clothes washers, avoid the permanent press cycle, which uses an added
20 liters (5 gallons) for the extra rinse. For partial loads, adjust water
levels to match the size of the load. Replace old clothes washers. New Energy
Star rated washers use 35 – 50% less water and 50% less energy per load. If
you’re in the market for a new clothes washer, consider buying a water-saving
12. Minimize use of kitchen sink
garbage disposal units
In-sink ‘garburators’ require lots
of water to operate properly, and also add considerably to the volume of solids
in a septic tank which can lead to maintenance problems. Start a
as an alternate method of disposing food waste.
13. When washing dishes by hand,
don’t leave the water running for rinsing
If your have a
double-basin, fill one with soapy water and one with rinse water. If you have a
single-basin sink, gather washed dishes in a dish rack and rinse them with a
spray device or a panful of hot water. Dual-swivel
aerators are available to make this
easier. If using a dishwasher, there is usually no need to pre-rinse the
14. Don’t let the faucet run while you clean
Just rinse them in a stoppered sink or a pan
of clean water. Use a dual-setting
15. Keep a bottle of
drinking water in the fridge.
Running tap water to cool it off for
drinking water is wasteful. Store drinking water in the fridge in a
water conservation in the yard and garden…
16. Plant drought-resistant lawns,
shrubs and plants
If you are planting a new lawn, or
overseeding an existing lawn, use drought-resistant grasses such as the new
beautiful shrubs and plants thrive with far less watering than other species.
Replace herbaceous perennial borders with native plants. Native plants will use
less water and be more resistant to local plant diseases. Consider applying the
principles of xeriscape for a
low-maintenance, drought resistant yard.
Plant slopes with plants that will
retain water and help reduce runoff.
Group plants according to their watering
17. Put a layer of mulch
around trees and plants
Mulch will slow evaporation of moisture
while discouraging weed growth. Adding 2 – 4 inches of organic material such as
compost or bark mulch will increase the ability of the soil to retain moisture.
Press the mulch down around the dripline of each plant to form a slight
depression which will prevent or minimize water runoff.
about different mulch materials and their best use, click
18. Don’t water the gutter
Position your sprinklers so water lands on the lawn or garden,
not on paved areas. Also, avoid watering on windy days.
your lawn only when it needs it
A good way to see if your lawn needs
watering is to step on the grass. If it springs back up when you move, it
doesn’t need water. If it stays flat, the lawn is ready for watering. Letting
the grass grow taller (to 3″) will also promote water retention in the
Most lawns only need about 1″ of water each week. During dry spells,
you can stop watering altogether and the lawn will go brown and dormant. Once
cooler weather arrives, the morning dew and rainfall will bring the lawn back to
its usual vigor. This may result in a brown summer lawn, but it saves a lot of
20. Deep-soak your
When watering the lawn, do it long
enough for the moisture to soak down to the roots where it will do the most
good. A light sprinkling can evaporate quickly and tends to encourage shallow
root systems. Put an empty tuna can on your lawn – when it’s full, you’ve
watered about the right amount. Visit our natural
lawn care page for more information.
Water during the early parts of the day; avoid watering when
Early morning is generally better than
dusk since it helps prevent the growth of fungus. Early watering, and late
watering, also reduce water loss to evaporation. Watering early in the day is
also the best defence against slugs and other garden pests. Try not to water
when it’s windy – wind can blow sprinklers off target and speed
22. Add organic matter and use
efficient watering systems for shrubs, flower beds and lawns
Adding organic material to your soil will help increase its
absorption and water retention. Areas which are already planted can be ‘top
dressed’ with compost or organic matter.
You can greatly reduce the amount of
water used for shrubs, beds and lawns by:
– the strategic placement of
installing a rain
barrel water catchment system
– installing a simple drip-irrigation system
over-watering plants and shrubs, as this can actually diminish plant health and
cause yellowing of the leaves.
When hand watering, use a variable
spray nozzle for targeted
23. Don’t run the hose while washing
Clean the car using a pail of soapy
water. Use the hose only for rinsing – this simple practice can save as much as
150 gallons when washing a car. Use a spray nozzle when rinsing for more
efficient use of water. Better yet, use a waterless car washing
system; there are several brands, such as EcoTouch, which are now on
24. Use a broom, not a hose, to
clean driveways and sidewalks
25. Check for leaks in pipes, hoses,
faucets and couplings
Leaks outside the house may not seem as bad
since they’re not as visible. But they can be just as wasteful as leaks indoors.
Check frequently to keep them drip-free. Use hose washers at spigots and hose
connections to eliminate leaks.
Water conservation comes naturally when
everyone in the family is aware of its importance, and parents take the time to
teach children some of the simple water-saving methods around the home which can
make a big difference.
In 1990, 30 states in the US
reported ‘water-stress’ conditions. In 2000, the number of states reporting
water-stress rose to 40. In 2009, the number rose to 45. There is a worsening
trend in water supply nationwide. Taking measures at home to conserve water not
only saves you money, it also is of benefit to the greater
Saving water at home does not require any significant cost
outlay. Although there are water-saving appliances and water conservation
systems such as rain barrels, drip irrigation and on-demand water heaters which
are more expensive, the bulk of water saving methods can be achieved at little
cost. For example, 75% of water used indoors is in the bathroom, and 25% of this
is for the toilet. The average toilet uses 4 gallons per flush (gpf). You can
invest in a ULF (ultra-low flush) toilet which will use only 2 gpf. But you can
also install a simple tank bank, costing about $2, which will save .8 gpf. This
saves 40% of what you would save with the ULF toilet. Using simple methods like
tank banks, low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators you can retrofit your home
By using water-saving features you can reduce your in-home
water use by 35%. This means the average household, which uses 130,000 gallons
per year, coulod save 44,00 gallons of water per year. On a daily basis, the
average household, using 350 gallons per day, could save 125 gallons of water
per day. The average individual, currently using 70 gallons per day, could save
25 gallons of water per day.
low-flow aerators, be sure to read the label for the actual ‘gpm’ (gallons per
minute) rating. Often, the big box retailers promote “low-flow” which are rated
at 2.5 gpm, which is at the top of the low-flow spectrum. This may be needed for
the kitchen sink, but we find that a 1.5 gpm aerator works fine for the bathroom
sink and most water outlets, delivering the same spray force in a comfortable,
soft stream. Eartheasy’s online store carries a
full range of low-flow aerators and showerheads.
Finally, it should be
noted that installing low-flow aerators, showerheads, tank banks and other
water-saving devices usually is a very simple operation which can be done by the
homeowner and does not even require the use of tools. Water conservation at home
is one of the easiest measures to put in place, and saving water should become
part of everday family practice.