Although it flows freely from our faucets day in and day out, our actual freshwater supply is limited. Of all the water on planet earth, only 3% is fresh (meaning drinkable for humans and not salty), and 2.5% of that is currently unusable. The majority of available fresh water is either too polluted for use, locked away in glaciers and polar ice caps or too much of a financial burden to extract from the atmosphere, surrounding soil or below the surface.1
“That leaves 0.5% of the earth’s water available for use, which isn’t a lot.”
According to the EPA, drinking water and wastewater systems alone account for 2% of the U.S.’s entire energy use and more than 45 million tons of greenhouse gases annually — AKA the gases that scientists attribute to global warming.2 Thus, it’s easy to understand then why cities, states, and governments worldwide are implementing water restrictions.
Therefore, reducing water usage is the right environmental decision and a smart financial decision that helps lower your energy bills. Here are 15 quick and easy water-saving tips you can implement in your life that can reduce water usage and keep our planet in tip-top shape.
1. Turn Off the Faucet When Brushing Your Teeth or Shaving
Simply turning the faucet off when you brush your teeth in the mornings and evenings can save 8 gallons of water per day. That’s 200 gallons a month in gray water — household wastewater that doesn’t contain serious contaminants — that doesn’t need to be treated.3
2. Turn Off the Faucet When Washing Your Hands
The same goes for when you wash your hands. Instead of leaving the faucet running during the 20 seconds you should be lathering your hands for public health, tap it off with the top of your wrist — and do that every time! Since you wash your hands multiple times a day, you will save even more water than when you brush your teeth.
3. Repair Leaky Faucets
We were shocked to learn how much water an average home wastes due to leaky faucets. According to the EPA, the average household wastes 10,000 gallons of perfectly good water every year. For the U.S. alone, that equates to 1 trillion gallons of water (that’s 1,000,000,000,000 gallons).4
Thankfully, the EPA provides a very easy and free guide for detecting water leaks in your home. In 10 short minutes, you can spot leaks and then fix them or call a repairperson. The result is immediate savings on your water bills.
4. Reduce Lawn Watering
A well-manicured and healthy lawn is a sight to behold, though it’s sometimes required by homeowner associations. However, most established lawns will do just fine without regular watering. According to the EPA, landscape irrigation (sprinklers and hoses) accounts for about 9 billion gallons of water per day in the U.S.5 That’s a lot of water just to keep some grass looking good.
Instead, consider planting drought-resistant grass. Choose one of the many brands and varieties that don’t require a heavy drink after a dry summer day.
5. Water Only in the Morning or Evening
If your grass is on the verge of collapse, experts say you should only water in the morning and evenings. That way, the grass can absorb the water better before it evaporates in the hot summer heat. This reduces the amount of water you’ll need and how often you need to water.
6. Sweep Your Driveway or Patio
We’ve all seen those uber-satisfying videos on social media of people pressure washing their patios and driveways. Everything looks so clean, and completing the task looks relaxing. However, that chore wastes lots of good water. Instead, get out the broom and do a thorough sweep. Your driveway will get just as clean, and a little hard work (maybe even by your kids) will be rewarded with eco-friendly and wallet-friendly savings.
7. Only Wash Full Loads of Laundry
Even if you’ve got a high-efficiency washing machine, you should only run it when you can fit a full load’s worth of clothes in there. Anything less and you aren’t maximizing your washer’s full energy efficiency (i.e. you bought a HE washer for nothing).
If you want to save even more, wash your clothes on cold, which will save on water heating costs.
8. Only Run the Dishwasher with Full Loads
The same goes for your dishwasher. Of course, if you have a higher-end model that can sense how dirty your dishes are, then you might be able to run half loads. Even then, many dishwashers use a preset amount of water. To maximize efficiency and reduce your need for water, only wash your dishes when the dishwasher is filled to the brim.
9. Consider a Shower Over a Bath
In terms of water usage, showers trump baths. An average shower uses around 10 to 25 gallons of water, while a bath can use up to 70 gallons, depending on your tub size.6
So, while that long soak is relaxing, so is saving money from using less water.
10. Get a Shower Timer
Experts generally agree that your average shower should last around 5 minutes. That gives you plenty of time to scrub-a-dub-dub, relax, and release the day’s tension without worrying about your water footprint. And if you don’t want to buy a timer, just use the one built into your phone.
11. Turn off the Shower When Washing Your Hair
You can prolong your time in the shower by turning off the water whenever you lather. You can sacrifice a little bit of warmth for long-term savings and the health of the planet.
12. Install Low-Flow Water Fixtures
Low-flow water fixtures save billions of gallons of water each year. In fact, it’s been a federal law since 1992 that showerheads cannot exceed 2.5 gallons of water per minute. Therefore, if you get a showerhead with a low enough flow, you can theoretically prolong your shower while also respecting the environment.
13. Replace Your Old Toilet
Another federally regulated item in your house is your toilet. President George H. W. Bush in 1992 signed the Energy Policy Act, making the federal water limit for toilets 1.6 gallons per flush. Therefore, every toilet today should have no excuse for not being energy efficient.
If you have an older model toilet, you should replace it with a newer one. It can cost you around $100-$200 to replace, but you can ensure your loo is eco-certified.
14. Skip the Garbage Disposal
Composting will always be the preferred option for your food waste overrunning the garbage disposal or throwing stuff in the garbage. According to the EPA, composting has many benefits7:
- It fertilizes your soil naturally
- It reduces the need for artificial fertilizers
- It encourages good bacteria and fungi that create nutrients for plants
- It reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint
15. Consider a Rain Barrel
Unless you live in Colorado, which is the only state that has made collecting rainwater completely illegal, you should think about investing in a rain barrel. These are a great way to catch excess rainwater, and they can keep your property from being inundated with water during a big storm. You can then use what you collected as water for plants and outdoor cleaning tasks instead of using water from a faucet. This saves energy because less water has to be treated and it saves you on water bills.
You Can Help to Protect the World’s Water Supply
The benefits of water conservation are clear: Not only does it help protect our rivers, lakes, estuaries, and wildlife, but it also reduces the amount of water that needs to be treated. This ultimately leads to big savings for everyone — including you — and fewer greenhouse gases. Water is truly life, and protecting life includes cherishing our available fresh water, conserving it and keeping it safe.