16 Ingenious Ways to Save Water at Home

When you save water, you’re not only helping everyone conserve a precious natural resource--you’re also saving money and running a more efficient household. The best part is that there are numerous ways to start saving water immediately, no matter your budget.

Here are 16 tips to get you going, from quick fixes that you can begin using right away to longer-term investments you can work on throughout the year:

  • 8 Washing Tips

  • 3 Toilet Tips

  • 3 Plumbing Tips

  • 2 Tips for Gardening and the Outdoors

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8 Water-Saving Washing Tips

1. Turn off the tap.

This can make a huge difference in how much water you conserve, especially when you consider the rate at which water comes out of the average faucet: 2.5 gallons per minute! Try turning off the tap at the following times to save water:

  • While brushing your teeth

  • While lathering your hands up with soap as you wash them

  • While scrubbing dishes before rinsing (see Tip #4 if you have a dishwasher)

2. Bring out the shower bucket.

What is a shower bucket, you ask? It’s simple. While you’re waiting for your shower to heat up, catch the water that would otherwise go down the drain in a bucket. You can use this water later for watering plants, flushing toilets, or washing dishes.

3. Recycle your pasta water.

This might sound silly at first, but think about it. You have a whole pot of water that you’re about to dump down the drain. Instead, wait for it to cool, and then use it to water your plants.

4. Maximize your laundry loads.

Instead of doing several small loads of laundry throughout the week, try to save up a few larger loads of clothing. Not only will you use less water, but you’ll spend less time doing what is many people’s least favorite household chore. Speaking of least favorite chores...

5. Let your dishwasher do the washing.

The fact that using a dishwasher actually saves more water than handwashing dishes comes as a blessing to everyone who hates this after-dinner chore. If you are fortunate enough to have a dishwasher, all you have to do to start saving water is load it up and use it.

6. Opt for showers over baths.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t treat yourself to a relaxing soak every now and then. It is worth noting, though, that a full bathtub will require around 70 gallons of water, whereas a 5-minute shower will only require 10-25 gallons, according to a report from the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

7. Take shorter showers when possible.

The EPA says that a shower will save more money than a bath, but again, that’s only if it’s a short shower (within the 5-minute range). Try to keep your showers only 5 to 7 minutes long. This can be difficult if you need to wash your hair, so refrain from washing your hair every day.

If you have a large family, try having a Short Shower Challenge and time yourselves to see who can keep all of their showers under 7 minutes for an entire month. As an added bonus, whoever was able to keep all of their showers to a 5-minute maximum gets the grand prize. In the end, you’ll all be winners when you see how much lower your water bill is at the month’s end!

8. Try a low-flow showerhead.

If you have a hard time keeping showers under 7 minutes or if you simply don’t want to, another option is installing a low-flow showerhead. If you’re worried about getting “the showerhead hair” in the manner of Seinfeld, have no fear. A low flow showerhead does not mean it has a weak flow. While using about 2.5 gallons of water or less per minute than a standard showerhead, the low flow version adds air to the water and uses more pressure, so you won’t notice a difference. As an added plus, they’re quite affordable.

3 Water-Saving Toilet Tips

1. Flush less.

Toilets consume a lot of water. In fact, your toilet consumes more water on average than any other water-consuming product that you own. Since using your toilet is non-negotiable (we can all probably agree on that), you can, however, opt to flush it less often after each use. As the old saying goes, if it’s brown flush it down. You want to do this for odor-prevention and sanitary reasons. You can usually go “number one” 3 to 5 times before flushing.

2. Upgrade to a low-flow toilet.

A water-saving toilet will help you conserve water and save money without the need to resort to “if it’s yellow let it mellow.” If you’re concerned about a low-flow toilet’s ability to perform, testing from Consumer Reports engineers have demonstrated that these toilets perform as well--and sometimes even better--than some high gallon toilets.

3. Install water-saving flush valves.

If you don’t have the funds to replace your toilet at the moment or if you love the toilet you have, you can always consider a water-saving flush valve. This, in essence, turns the toilet you have into something of a water-saving toilet. You can buy these valves from home improvement stores or online at retailers like Amazon, although to avoid any mishaps you may want to call a plumber to install it for you.

3 Water-Saving Plumbing Tips

1. Fix faucet leaks.

A dripping faucet may not seem like a major water-waster, but consider this: one leaky faucet dripping once per minute will waste more than 30 gallons of water per year. If you have more than one leaky faucet, you can see where this would begin to add up. Fortunately, it’s easy to contact a plumber to get your plumbing fixtures adjusted.

2. Check monthly for hints of leaks.

The trouble with leaks is that sometimes you can see them early on--other times you won’t see them until quite a bit of damage has been done. One way to detect leaks early on is by checking your monthly water bill for any unexplained spikes. Sudden increases in your bill could indicate a leak somewhere that you can’t see, in which case a plumber should be contacted for advanced leak detection.

3. Install a water softener.

You might ask, how does a water softener conserve water? Simply put: water softeners make water soft, and soft water heats up faster than hard water. Because you aren’t waiting as long with the faucet running for the water to heat up when the water is soft, less water gets wasted. A water softener has additional benefits as well, such as helping your pipes and plumbing fixture stay cleaner and increasing the efficiency of your appliances.

2 Water-Saving Tips for Gardening and the Outdoors

1. Instead of a lawn, opt for a drought-friendly garden.

Being drought-friendly no longer means that a cactus garden is your only option. Because of how popular drought-friendly gardens have become, nurseries contain dozens of hardy, desert flora that vary in color and texture, from fragrant shrubs to flowering succulents. Mixing in stone, tile, pebbles, and wood can also increase your garden’s visual appeal.

2. Water plants in the morning.

There are two reasons to start taking up this practice. The first is that watering at night can lead to dampness that promotes mold growth. The second is the water-saving reason: because it’s cooler outside in the morning, less of the water will evaporate.

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