A Guide to Conserving Water at Home: If you want to live a more eco-conscious life, start with simple habits at home. Water is something that we all use, but if we don’t make big changes to our consumption levels we won’t be able to meet society’s growing water demand. Here are some tips to help you conserve water where it matters.
By Karlyn McKell
COVID-19 has us all spending more time at home, so it’s the perfect time for a new routine — especially if your water usage has been surging during the pandemic. And cutting down on water use isn’t just good for the planet: it’s good for your wallet, too.
Our room-by-room water guide below explains how you can cut down on water consumption at home. You can also check out the infographic at the bottom of this post for a visual representation and water estimates.
Conserving Water at Home: A Room-by-Room Guide
We’ll start this guide in the area of the home where most families use the most water: the restroom. A combination of better practices and newer appliances can help you save hundreds of gallons of water per week.
Keeping appliances up-to-date and in working order is key to water conservation. In the U.S., a whopping 900 billion gallons of water is lost to household leaks annually. Check in on your bathroom pipes and appliances once a month at least to ensure everything is in working order. You should also start budgeting for a high-efficiency toilet, which saves tons of water per flush.
Skip the bath and take a short shower instead — no more than 10 minutes long. If your muscles are sore and the bath is necessary, only fill the tub halfway and reuse the water in your yard or on indoor potted plants.
Brushing your teeth is another daily to-do that uses water (but please don’t skip this step!). Make sure you turn the faucet off when brushing and remind your children and other family members to do the same.
Nearly every step of the cooking process requires water, from washing the vegetables to rinsing off pots and pans. Avoiding H20 isn’t realistic here, but you can limit usage and reuse most of the water you do use.
To start, capture and reuse the water you use to rinse off fruit and vegetables. Then, rather than boiling vegetables, opt to steam them instead. At the end of food prep, toss your extra vegetable scraps in a compost pile to skip the garbage disposal rinse.
You can also reuse cooking water, just make sure to cool it to room temperature before watering indoor plants or your garden — or use it in other recipes.
During cleanup, send bowls and plates straight to the dishwasher rather than hand washing. Soak pots and pans that require a deeper scrub overnight to save you time, energy and water.
Running laundry loads is another home activity that requires a lot of water and electricity. In order to limit water waste, only run full laundry loads and wash them on cold whenever you can. During a typical laundry run, half of the water used goes to heating the water.
Also remember that not every item needs to make it to the hamper after one use. Bath towels can be hung to dry 2-3 times before a wash is required. Blue jeans also shouldn’t be washed after every wear: they’ll last longer if they’re washed less.
We all want a fruitful and lush lawn, but you don’t have to be wasteful in order to achieve curb appeal. Instead, design your lawn with water conservation in mind and check in on your irrigation system regularly — after all, your yard doesn’t need nearly as much water in the winter as you do in the summer.
Brushing up on your plant knowledge and keeping track of the seasons are two easy ways to waste less water outside. Purchase drought-resistant plants that require less maintenance, such as aloe and geranium, and/or native plants that are already used to your climate’s annual rainfall conditions.
You’ll save a ton of water if you sweep rather than rinse your driveway as well. This is such an effective water conservation method that some cities mandate it during droughts (such as Los Angeles).
An Infographic: Conserving Water at Home
For more information on how to reduce water waste at home, along with a visual guide showing gallons saved, check out this visual from The Zebra below.
Karlyn McKell is a writer who specializes in the eco-living and home insurance spaces. She believes the best ingredients for fruitful living are passion, purpose and a commitment to sustainability.