With summertime just around the corner, many of us have already been out in the yard planting flowers, performing lawn care, and starting other yard beautification projects. But since the truly hot weather is still a few weeks away, I thought this would be the perfect time to refresh ourselves on a topic that relates not only to yard work, but also the earth as a whole: water conservation.
No matter where you live, water is a precious resource. And it’s up to us as individuals to treat it that way by not wasting it, and by being smart about the way we use it.
And to that end, today I’ll be sharing 11 things we should all be doing to conserve water. Just by adopting these simple and practical measures, you can do your part for the planet (and save money on your monthly water bill while you’re at it!) :-)
11 Little Things You Can Do To Conserve Water
1. Check Your Water Bill
While most of us pay our utility bills without really giving it much thought, we should all be taking a close look at our water bills! When you pay attention to your water bill each month, you’ll have a good idea of how much water you’re using on average, making it easier to spot usage spikes that may point to a leak.
2. Fix Leaks ASAP
And speaking of leaks, make sure to get them fixed right away! Even a slow leak can waste a significant amount of water—for instance, if your faucet was dripping once per second, that leak would waste 3,000 gallons of water per year!
3. Use Mulch
Evaporation can cause problems during hot weather, because a bigger portion of the water you apply to your flowers, vegetables, or trees evaporates before it has a chance to be absorbed. Instead of using more water to compensate, use mulch around your plants to protect them from the effects of evaporation.
According to a study by the University of Florida, mulch can reduce the amount of water that your soil loses to evaporation by 33%! So use mulch generously to help conserve water in your yard and garden.
4. Reuse Water
Look for opportunities to save and reuse water whenever you can. For instance, save the water you used to wash your produce and use it to water your houseplants. Or put a bucket under your faucet while you let the water heat up for a bath, and use that to water your vegetable garden!
There are even systems you can install to collect and filter “greywater,” or the water that goes through your bathroom sink, washing machine, and shower, to use for watering your grass and flowers. To learn about greywater laws in your state, click here.
5. Turn Off The Faucet
Whenever you use your bathroom faucet to brush your teeth, wash your face, or shave, make sure to shut the water off instead of letting it run. It may not seem like you’re saving that much water just by turning the taps, but since most bathroom faucets run at 2 gallons per minute, it adds up fast!
6. Check For Toilet Leaks
While most water leaks are obvious enough to grab your attention, some are pretty sneaky. One sneaky leak that may go unnoticed for months is a leak between your toilet’s tank and the bowl.
Luckily, there’s a quick and easy way to check for this type of toilet leak! Just add a few drops of food coloring to the water in the tank, then check on the water in the bowl in about 30 minutes or so. If the color has transferred from the tank to the bowl, your toilet could be leaking up to 100 gallons of water per day! To fix the problem and conserve water, replacing your toilet flapper should do the trick!
7. Trick Your Toilet Tank
If you have an older toilet, it likely uses much more water per flush than modern water-efficient models. But there’s a simple way to reduce the amount of water your toilet uses without any special tools or knowledge!
Grab an empty soda bottle and add an inch or two of rocks or sand to the bottom of it. Then place the bottle in your toilet’s tank to reduce the amount of water needed to fill the tank, and by extension, the amount of water that moves through your toilet with each flush. Neat, right?
8. Water As Needed
If you water your lawn on a set schedule, you’re not accounting for cool weather or rainfall that can delay your lawn’s need for water. You can save a lot of water in the long run simply by watering your lawn only as needed.
An easy way to tell if your lawn needs water is to step on the grass. If the grass springs back up, you can skip watering, but if it stays flattened, go ahead and water it.
To make the most of the water you do apply to your lawn, water in the mornings or evenings when it’s cooler, and make sure your sprinklers are only getting water on the grass (and not wasting it on sidewalks or gutters.)
9. Buy Certified Fixtures & Appliances
Certain fixtures and appliances have a WaterSense label, which means that product meets the EPA’s standards for water efficiency. When you need to replace your fixtures and appliances (such as faucets, shower heads, your washing machine, etc.), consider choosing a WaterSense-certified model to help conserve water.
10. Consider Your Diet
You can’t calculate your own personal “water footprint” without considering the food you eat. Massive amounts of water are needed to grow food, and the higher you go up the food chain, the more water is required to produce it.
For instance, according to the Water Footprint Calculator, that salad you ate for lunch took about 21 gallons of water to produce, while a 6-ounce serving of steak requires a whopping 647 gallons of water! Cutting back on meat and supporting local farms are both easy ways to reduce your water footprint.
11. Refrigerate Your Drinking Water
Do you ever turn on your faucet to get a drink of water and end up waiting several seconds for the water to run cold? Think of all that perfectly good water going down the drain!
Instead, just keep a pitcher of water in your fridge. That way, you’ll always have a refreshing drink of cold water at the ready. :-)
What’s one way that you conserve water at home?