How to Reduce In-Home Water Consumption
ASK A SPECIALIST: DO YOU HAVE TIPS FOR SAVING WATER IN THE HOME?
Answer by: Lou Mueller, Utah State University Extension associate professor
Because moisture is in short supply this year, it is important to make every drop count. Consider these tips to help save water in your home every day.
· Stop leaks. One leaking tap or faucet, dripping just one drip per minute, results in a water loss of nearly 3 gallons a month, or 34 gallons a year. Add a second leak, and a third and that number climbs significantly. Monitor your water bill. A spike may indicate leaking water somewhere in your system.
· Go with low-flow. Install low-flow fixtures like faucet aerators and low-flow shower heads. If you bathe, put the stopper in the drain, then adjust the hot and cold taps to control the water temperature in the tub. The California Energy Commission estimates consumers will use an average of 30-50 gallons for the average bath, 30 gallons for a four-minute shower, and 10 gallons for the same shower with a low-flow shower head.
· Catch wasted water. Use a rectangular plastic wash basin in your sink to catch water while washing hands and rinsing vegetables. Recycle this water on lawns or flower beds.
· Turn it off. Turn off running water while brushing your teeth or shaving. Take quick showers—get wet, turn off the water to wash your hair and lather up, then rinse. If you prefer a bath, keep water levels low. When washing your hands, get wet and turn off the water; then lather well for 20 seconds and rinse.
· Think ahead. Thawing frozen foods under running water is both wasteful and unsafe. Take time to thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator for water savings and food safety.
· Use ice cubes. A lot of water is wasted letting the tap run till the water gets cold. Instead, cool your water with ice cubes or keep a covered jug of water in the refrigerator. An open jug makes the compressor work harder to remove moisture, and uncovered water can pick up unwanted flavors.
· Wash full loads. Run the dishwasher only when full. If you rinse each dish first, consider using the dishwasher’s rinse cycle. An estimated 12 gallons of water runs down the drain while rinsing dishes, as opposed to 1 gallon in the rinse cycle. If you wash dishes by hand, use plastic tubs. Fill one with hot soapy water and one with clear rinse water. When the rinse water gets cloudy, dump it on the lawn or garden and refill to avoid waste. Also wash full laundry loads. If your washer adjusts water levels, reduce water levels for smaller loads. Use the same bath towel all week to save on extra loads.
· Purchase “WaterSense” and “Energy Star” products. Larger investments, like water-efficient toilets and water heaters, pay off over time in cost savings on water bills. For example, energy efficient toilets use 20 percent less water to flush due to high pressure—that’s 20 percent off your water bill.
Even small steps toward water conservation in the home can have big results. If you’re not saving water already, get started now and make every drop count!