How to Conserve Indoor Water at Home
Water saving techniques indoors are bountiful, easy, and mostly free! Even better, they can be practiced year-round in the home. Learn ways to lower your water bill while lowering your eco footprint with these painless tips on how to conserve indoor water that will leave you feeling more than satisfied on your sustainable lifestyle pursuit.
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Why Conserve Water?
The average U.S. family uses over 300 gallons of water per day – 70% of that from indoor use. That’s a lot of water. See how the EPA breaks down how that indoor water is used:
As you may already know, fresh water is a finite resource. Yep! Did you know that less than 1% of water on Earth is suitable for human use?
Fresh water is our most precious resource since we cannot live without it.
So, yes, conserving water on a daily basis is a huge component on living a sustainable lifestyle.
To help you live more sustainably, here are many cheap and easy ways to conserve indoor water to lower your eco footprint and save you money on your water bill.
Conserve Water in the Kitchen
Turn Faucet Off When Not Using Water
This is a biggie! And it’s the easiest and free way to conserve indoor water. Remember, 19% of indoor water use comes from the faucet.
Quite simply, if you are not running anything under the water, turn it off. Only perform actions that require water, like washing dishes, hands or produce, with the water running.
When washing dishes, use a bin or sink section for washing only and collect dishes to the side until you’re ready to rinse them; or, use another bin of fresh water for rinsing only. This can save gallons of water every day. If you don’t believe me, put a bin underneath your faucet and see how much water you collect from water you’re not really using.
Scrape and Soak Dishes
Don’t automatically reach for the garbage disposal. Scrape all food into your compost bin, to reduce food waste, first.
If you have tough food removal ahead, try soaking the dishes in a little water so the food can loosen before you wash them by hand.
If you have an energy efficient dishwasher, there’s no need to pre-soak. Just wash them, or use the rinse feature once first, and the dishwasher and eco-friendly detergent will do the rest of the work.
When rinsing produce, collect the water with a bowl or small bin and use that water to water plants or garden, or use for outdoor cleaning.
Same for boiled water! Did you steam your veggies on the stove? Reuse the water instead of throwing it out.
Keep Water Cool
If you like your drinking water cold, keep the water container in the refrigerator. It saves you from needlessly running water for it to get cold for drinking.
Install a Kitchen Faucet Aerator
Faucet aerators reduce the flow of water without sacrificing water pressure. The average flow rate of a kitchen faucet is 2.2 gallons per minute (gpm), so a 1 gpm aerator can save up to 50% in water. Better yet, most aerators cost under $10.
Use a Water Efficient Kitchen Faucet
If you don’t want to go the aerator route, upgrade to a water efficient kitchen faucet. You may not be able to get a WaterSense certified kitchen faucet, but any faucet that saves 20% or more than a 2.2 gpm faucet is going to save you water and money.
Check out the Plumbing Fixtures section of the CORR Concepts Conscious Consumer Directory. It will point you in the right direction to find WaterSense equivalent kitchen faucets.
Fix Water Leaks
It’s a good idea to regularly look around your kitchen plumbing and appliances for leaks. Even little leaks can add up to hundreds of gallons of water lost every year.
Not only will water issues be diverted, protecting your home, but you’ll also be able to identify where you can save water.
If you’re not handy, hire a plumber to do the fixing. It’s worth the money in the long run.
Fill Up the Dishwasher
Make the most out of your dishwasher and only run it when it’s full and adjust the water-level settings for the most efficiency to save water and energy – double money savings.
Upgrade to ENERGY STAR
An ENERGY STAR certified dish washer will save, on average, 3,870 gallons of water over its lifetime. If you’re the market for a new dishwasher, make sure it’s ENERGY STAR certified.
Again, the Conscious Consumer Directory can point you in the right direction on brands to shop and where.
Conserve Water in the Bathroom
Turn It Off When Not in Use
What goes for the kitchen, goes for the bathroom: only run the bathroom fixtures when needed. And it’s easy and free to implement!
Turn the faucet water off when brushing your teeth or shaving. If need be, fill up the sink with a little water to rinse off your razor.
In the shower, turn the water on only to rinse wet down and rinse off.
To save more water, put a bucket under the shower head while the water is heating up so you can use that water elsewhere.
Install Bathroom Faucet Aerators
Faucet aerators work great in the bathroom, too! The average flow rate of a bathroom faucet is also 2.2 gpm, so a 1 gpm aerator can save you additional 50% of water use in each bathroom an aerator is installed.
Take 5 Minute Showers
Ultimately, this means not letting the shower water run for more than 5 minutes total. Combined with the tip above, you can make your shower time last longer than 5 minutes.
Purchase a 5-minute shower timer to help. They are very inexpensive.
Use a WaterSense Bathroom Faucet
WaterSense does certify bathroom faucets and there are a multitude of beautiful fixtures to choose from. The WaterSense label certifies the faucet will reduce water flow by a minimum of 30% beyond the 2.2 gpm average, saving the average U.S. family hundreds of gallons of water every year.
Find out where to start looking for your WaterSense bathroom faucet.
Install a WaterSense Showerhead
Like the bathroom faucet, the WaterSense label can also be found on showerheads.
The average flow rate of a residential showerhead is 2.5 gpm, and a WaterSense showerheads uses a maximum of 2 gpm – a 20% savings!
Remember the EPA chart above? The residential toilet accounts for 24% of water use at home. That’s a large chunk of daily water usage!
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If its brown, flush it down.” Well, implementing this saying into your daily lifestyle can give huge savings on water by avoiding flushing the toilet unnecessarily.
Install a WaterSense Toilet
The federal standard water flow for a residential toilet is 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf). A WaterSense toilet is guaranteed to use 20% less than the standard toilet, at minimum.
Toilets are fairly inexpensive, especially when you combine the future water and money savings. Upgrading your toilet to a maximum 1.28 gpf toilet can save, on average, 13,000 gallons of water every year and over $2000 over the lifetime of the toilet.
Go even further, and upgrade to a dual-flush toilet. A 1.1 / 1.28 gpf dual-flush will add more water and financial savings.
Use a Toilet Water Displacement Device
Can’t afford the new toilet up-front costs just yet? Consider a work-around to save indoor water by installing a displacement device, like a bottle, in the toilet tank to reduce the amount of water used for each flush.
Fix Bathroom Water Leaks
Like the kitchen, do regular checks around your bathroom sinks, toilets, tubs and shower heads.
Drop a couple of non-toxic, toilet leak detection dye tablets into your toilet tank, let sit 15 minutes, and then flush to see if your toilet is leaking.
Many small bathroom leaks can be repaired by replacing a washer or sealing, or simply upgrade to a more efficient plumbing fixture.
Install a Tankless Water Heater
You don’t just use more energy heating up your water, you waste water that way as well.
Consider swapping out your water heater for a tankless water heater that heats water on demand.
Conserve Water in the Laundry
Check for Appliance Leaks
Yep, this goes for the clothes washer and utility sink, too.
Fill Up the Clothes Washer
Like the dishwasher, run the washing machine only when you have a full load. In a pinch, use the machine’s lower water level settings to match your smaller loads.
Run the clothes washer at shortest settings and with cold water only also helps conserve indoor water.
An ENERGY STAR certified clothes washing machine saves about 6 gallons less per load compared to a standard machinefor an average $185 a year financial savings.
Review the Conscious Consumer Directory for certified brands when you’re ready to upgrade to ENERGY STAR.
Additional Ways to Conserve Indoor Water
Reuse Dehumidifier Water
The next time you empty the dehumidifier, don’t throw the water out. Use it to water your plants or for cleaning.
Insulate Water Pipes
Quick and inexpensive, insulating your water pipes with foam pipe insulation makes pipes hold hot water longer avoiding the need to run more water for heating up.
Avoid Water Emergencies
Know where your water master shut-off valve is to avoid potential flooding and home damage.
Know Your Water Bill
Before you implement any of the above water conservation techniques, review your past 12 months’ water bills. Knowing what months show the highest water usage helps target areas you can improve.
Ask your municipality if they provide a water audit for your home. They can provide tips targeted for your area.
Be Water Conscious Creative
Look around your home and review your daily habits on additional ways you think you can conserve indoor water yearly. No act is too little, and it all adds up to big savings.
Don’t be afraid to share water-saving ideas, or this post, with your friends, family and neighbors. If you find another way to conserve indoor water, share with the rest of the class and post a comment below!