Simple Tips to Reduce Your Household’s Water Consumption

Did you know that small household water leaks add up to more 10,000 gallons of water waste per family each year? Water is one of the world’s most valuable resources – which means we all need to be good stewards and find ways to use it more wisely.

You could invest in a high-tech irrigation system or replace your toilets and shower heads with super-low-flow models. But there are plenty of less costly, relatively simple steps that will make a noticeable difference in how much water you use.

Find and fix leaks

It’s not uncommon for something in the plumbing to be leaking dozens of gallons of water a week without anyone noticing. A simple fix with a few tools and parts from the hardware store could bring down your water bill for some time to come.

Your water meter can tell you a lot about whether you’ve got a leak. Find a time when no one will be using water for at least a couple of hours — maybe before you leave for work or a family outing — and note the water meter reading. When you return, see if it has changed. If it has, you’ve got a leak somewhere.

Toilet flappers don’t last forever, and a degraded one can use the same water as leaving a faucet running a constant stream. To check for a leaky flapper, put a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank and wait 10 minutes. If the color shows up in the bowl, you’ve got a leak that is easily fixed with a new flapper.

Cut the flow

When you’re brushing your teeth or shaving, flip off the tap while you scrub or use the razor. Leaving the water running lets as much as eight to 10 gallons of unused water run down the drain (and onto your water bill) each day. Teaching your kids this habit will multiply the savings.

Use the dish washer to wash dishes — and make sure it’s fully loaded before you run it. Washing just a few dishes and pans under running water soon uses the same amount of water as an entire load in the dishwasher.

Get the most from outdoors watering

Grass takes less water to stay green if you set the mower blade higher. A slightly longer turf length promotes root growth that makes the grass more drought-resistant. Leave grass clippings on the lawn — they’ll slowly add nutrients as they decompose to promote healthy, deep root growth without added fertilizers that tend to make grasses thirsty.

Plants and grasses adapted to your local conditions will need little or no watering beyond rainfall. Mulch around garden plants and trees to retain moisture.

And when you do water your lawn or garden, make sure what comes out of the sprinkler makes it into the ground.

Sunshine and wind steal a good bit of water before it even hits the ground. Water early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid peak sunshine. Set water sprays as low to the ground as possible to give wind and sun less chance to evaporate the droplets. And aim the sprays to make sure water lands where it will soak into the earth, not pool on sidewalks, driveways and patios.

If you have an irrigation system, check for leaks or have a professional do an inspection. If you’re using hoses and sprinklers, examine where the hose connects to faucet and sprinkler to make sure they’re tight — and replace rubber washers to ensure a good seal.