32 water conservation tips that help take the sting out of steep water bills during the heat of summer
As you've noticed by now, water bills fluctuate during the course of a year. They are lowest in winter and highest in the summer. That's because your lawn and garden require more water when it's hot. Factor in higher electricity bills because of air conditioning, and suddenly, your summer utility bills have skyrocketed like Fourth of July fireworks.
As it turns out, when you choose to save water, not only do you lower your water bill you also help preserve a precious commodity.
Yes, fresh water is rare! The U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) facts show just how rare it is:
- 97% of the earth's water is found in the oceans (too salty for drinking, growing crops, and most industrial uses except cooling)
- 3% of the earth's water is fresh
- 2.5% of the earth's fresh water is unavailable: locked up in glaciers, polar ice caps, atmosphere, and soil; highly polluted; or lies too far under the earth's surface to be extracted at an affordable cost
- 0.5% of the earth's water is available fresh water
Then, that fresh water must be treated to be safe to drink, and the resulting wastewater treated enough to be able to release it back into rivers and streams.
How much water does an average home use a day?
According to the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey), each person uses between 80 to 100 gallons of water a day!
There are also eye-opening stats from the USBR about common, water-using activities.
And if you think these estimates may not apply to you, there are two online, interactive calculators you can use to personalize your home's water usage: the Alliance of Water Efficiency
and the USGS
Conserving water is easier than you think!
The good news is that there are lots of ways to save water. Many won't even cost you money to implement. It's more about being mindful and resourceful.
So, let's look at 32 ways to save water.
Water-saver products you can buy
- Buy a high-efficiency washer. You can save up to 40% in water usage.
- Replace old toilets with new water-efficient ones. You want 1.28 to 1.6 gallons a flush, even less if available. If you can't afford new toilets, fill a plastic jug with water (or get a brick) and place it in the water-holding tank.
- Use low-flow faucets throughout the house.
- Use low-flow shower heads or flow restrictors. If you own a water-saving shower head but have removed the water-saver device, put it back in.
- Update your dishwasher to a size that fits your needs as well as getting an energy-efficient one.
- Buy and install a covered rain barrel to capture water when it rains. Use that water to help keep your outdoor plants watered.
Free, creative hacks to save water
- Don't take baths. Take short showers instead. Aim for 5 minutes or less.
- Don't let the water run while brushing your teeth, washing your hands, shaving, or shampooing your hair.
- Wash laundry and dishes only when you have a full load.
- Use the shortest cycles on your dishwasher and washer.
- Scrape off any food scraps and dispose of them in the trash or compost pile rather than running them through the garbage disposer (which requires water).
- When you wash fruits or veggies, use low water pressure and do it over a bowl. Use the bowl's water in the garden or outdoor container pots.
- When you turn on the shower or hot water tap and are waiting for the water to get warm, capture that water in a bucket. Use it to water your flowers—or even to help fill the holding tank of your toilet.
- If you do dishes by hand, don't soap them up and rinse them off one at a time with the faucet constantly running. Although some advocate going completely old-school with one container full of hot soapy water and another with cooler clean water for rinsing, I split the difference. I'll use whatever is the largest thing that needs to be cleaned as the soapy holding container that all other things are placed in. That way all soapy washing happens over all the remaining items (water turned off with the soapy sponge doing the work). Then I'll quickly rinse things off in batches, using the sprayer hose or judiciously running water at an extremely low pressure. If you capture all water used in the cleaning and rinsing process, it can be used to water flowers or dry spots in the yard.
- Water the yard in the cool of the day to reduce evaporation.
- Don't overwater the yard. Know the minimum of what your grass and flowers need. In Oklahoma, the preferred grass is Bermuda Grass which is drought tolerant. It requires just an inch a week.
- Don't wash your car at home. Go to a car wash. There are even some that recycle their water!
- Do you wash the dog in your bathtub? Don't! Wash your fur baby in the yard using soap that's also friendly to the grass.
- Use a broom to clean outside hardscape areas rather than your hose.
- Repair leaky faucets and toilets that flush themselves.
- Replace any leaking indoor or outdoor hoses.
- If you have a pool, be sure to use a pool cover. This significantly prevents evaporation.
- If you have an irrigation system, check to make sure all sprinkler heads work and are aimed in the correct direction. You don't want to waste precious water by irrigating the street or the driveway. If your system is old, consider updating with a weather-based controller (so it doesn't run while it's raining, for example) or update old mist heads with rotator sprinkler heads.
Other ways to save water
- Plant drought-resistant, native plants in your garden.
- Use mulch or compost around plants and trees. Plus, if you start your own compost pile, you'll have a great way to reuse grass clippings, leaves, and those rescued-from-the-disposer vegetable peels and leftovers.
- Don't cut the grass too short. Longer grass helps prevent evaporation, as does finely chopped grass clippings like those created by mulching lawn mowers.
- Rather than dump the pet's day-old water, use it in the garden or container pots. Use your old fish tank water on your plants.
- Keep a container of cold water in the fridge rather than running the tap water till it gets cooler.
- Love corn on the cob? Don't boil it in a big pot of water. Steam it instead in the microwave.
- Don't thaw foods by running cold water over them or placing them in a cold-water bath. Use the microwave or, plan ahead and use the refrigerator.
- Use one piece of glassware or beverage container a day per person for your drinking water. This cuts down the number of times you must run the dishwasher.
- Dropped some ice cubes? Don't throw them out. Put them on the soil of a house plant instead.
Why it's important to save water
Although water can be made from hydrogen and oxygen gases, it's not something you can do at home. Nor can it be done practically, at least yet. And desalinization is expensive for the people living near coastlines.
Populations are increasing while good sources of water are dwindling. Plus, homes and apartments aren't the only ones using water. It is used in agriculture and industry. In some parts of the country, it is used to generate electricity. Cities use it for firefighting, pools, and watering parks and green places. Then there are the restaurants, hospitals, hotels, health clubs, laundromats, beauty salons, barbershops, and other places of business.
By reviewing our list of 32 ideas and implementing what you can of them, you can make a dent in your water bill, especially during the summer. And you can help conserve one of the most important resources we need to live—water.
If, in your review of your home's water footprint, you discover you need to replace leaking hoses for your dishwasher, ice maker, or washer, check out what Certified Appliance Accessories has to offer. All hoses come with a 5-year limited warranty, providing peace of mind when it comes to burst or leaky hoses. You can find them online at Lowe's Walmart, Amazon, and other e-commerce sites.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational and educational purposes only. Certified Appliance Accessories is not liable or responsible for any damages resulting from or related to your use of this information.