Along with recycling, making a concerted effort to save water at home is one of the most important things you can do to help the environment. Water is a limited resource, especially in certain parts of the country, such as the Southwest, which is currently experiencing a severe drought.
Additionally, by conserving water, you can also save energy. Common household appliances like dishwashers, water heaters, and washing machines usually run on electricity. Therefore, by reducing your use of these appliances, you can lower your energy consumption—as well as reduce the emission of greenhouse gases generated by the burning of coal and natural gas to produce energy.
However, appliances aren’t the only wasteful things in our homes. Our daily habits are a major contributor to excess electricity and water consumption, and according to the American Water Works Association, the average US citizen uses approximately 110 gallons of water each day.
Follow these tips to make your home more energy and water efficient:
1. Install Water-Efficient Appliances and Fixtures.
If you are a homeowner, one of the most significant things you can do is replace old appliances with energy-efficient models specifically designed to save water. Even renters can usually replace their showerheads with low-flow models that reduce water flow by nearly half.
Water heaters are another huge drain on energy and water. You should consider replacing your current unit with a smaller unit that can still meet the needs of your family. To prevent heat loss and achieve optimal energy savings, make sure your water heater is properly insulated.
In the kitchen, consider replacing your dishwasher with a newer, ENERGY STAR-rated model. These dishwashers are thought to save around 3,800 gallons of water over their lifespan. This is a huge difference in comparison to dishwashers built before 1994, which can waste more than 10 gallons of water during each wash cycle.
However, your work isn’t done once you’ve installed energy-efficient and water-conserving appliances in your home. You still need to address your family’s daily water-wasting habits.
2. Adopt Water-Saving Habits.
No matter how efficient your household appliances and fixtures may be, you can still modify your personal habits and daily chore routines to make the most of new, more efficient technology. For example, you can save water by using your dishwasher. The EPA estimates that hand-washing dishes uses about 20 gallons of water on average, which is roughly double the amount of water used by an older dishwasher. If your home doesn’t have a dishwasher, you should turn off the water while washing dishes and then turn it back on again to rinse.
Laundry is another major contributor to water waste. Instead of running an entire wash cycle to wash one or two items, you should only launder full loads. You should also make sure that the machine is set to only one rinse cycle. Finally, make sure that you use the appropriate water level for your load size.
When completing household chores, try to use the same water to clean the entire house. For example, if you plan to mop the kitchen floor, use the same water to clean bathroom and other hard floors in the home.
Personal grooming habits also tend to waste water, electricity, and natural gas if you aren’t consciously trying to conserve these resources. When brushing your teeth, for example, turn off the tap until it is time to rinse rather than letting the water run while you brush. When showering, try not to linger. Installing a clock in the bathroom or setting a timer can help you keep your showers short.
3. Plan a Water-Saving Garden.
When planning or rearranging your garden, it’s best to choose plants that are native to your region, as these will thrive with less intervention on your part. Native plants will be better able to just to an area’s rainfall as well as to climate and soil composition, thus requiring less watering. Maintaining a lawn is also a major water waster. To save water, you should consider landscaping designs with minimal grass or hardier varieties that require less water.
Another way to conserve water in your garden is to capture rain water in a rust-proof receptacle. Typical moderate rainfall can produce up to 600 gallons of water per hour, and you can easily capture this water for later use. Try placing a container under gutters or downspouts and using a hose as a delivery system to irrigate your lawn, plants, and shrubs.
In addition to the aforementioned suggestions, the best way to save water is to encourage all members of the family to participate in water-conservation practices. If you can get your family members on board to save water, you will undoubtedly see reductions in your home energy costs, and everyone can feel good about doing their part to conserve precious natural resources.