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Saving Water at Home: Where to Start?

Updated on August 6, 2015

Ever had one of those days when you just want to stand there and let the hot, soothing water run down your body? I've done it, and I'm pretty sure every living human being has done it, too—because, come on, long baths make everything better, right? Water, however, is becoming increasingly and alarmingly scarce. And while we all have the right to take as many long baths as we desire, we depend on water for life—and it's our responsibility to use it wisely.

There's plenty of ways to go about this but I want to write from experience, and so I thought maybe I could share with you some of the simplest things I do to save water. The best part of all? You can do all these in and around your home. If you're unsure where to start, I say, read on, responsible citizen, read on!

In the kitchen:

  • Let’s talk about cooking. You know how some people let the faucet run while cleaning vegetables? Well, that’s basically letting good water down the drain. Instead, what you can do is rinse them in a stoppered sink or a large bowl of water. Now if you’re thinking of boiling food, it’s best to boil it in as little water as possible—not only do you get to save water, you also save cooking fuel, all while keeping more nutrients and flavor. And, of course, if you have water left over from doing both, never throw it away; you can always use it to water your plants. Let the boiling water cool down first, though!
  • Now, on to washing the dishes! Washing dishes is therapeutic for me, and so over the years of doing so by hand, I’ve learned a variety of ways to do it while saving water and energy. Two of the simplest ones: 1) I use a little water to get my sponge soapy and wet, scrub the dishes, and only turn the faucet on when I’m ready to rinse a bunch of them at once; and 2) If you have a double-basin sink, you can use one for washing and fill the other one with water for rinsing.
  • What about when drinking water? Top advice: never pour more than you’re likely to drink! Many people like drinking out of a full glass of water and end up pouring some down the drain, when they could easily use a smaller glass and drink all of it. Oh, you let the tap run to get cold water? Here’s a quick tip for you: fill a jug, a bottle, or a pitcher with tap water and keep it in the fridge. You get to enjoy ice-cold water without really wasting a drop. You like putting ice in your water? I do, too! But, hey, if you have ice left in your glass, don’t throw it! Instead, place it on a plant and let it benefit from when the ice melts.

In the bathroom:

How about getting this spiky shower curtain to force you out of the shower? Ha-ha!
How about getting this spiky shower curtain to force you out of the shower? Ha-ha!
  • So, you’re in the shower. The most obvious and practical way to save water is to take shorter showers—like 4-minute ones, which use about 20-40 gallons of water. The drill? Go in. Get wet. Apply shampoo. Condition. Soap up. Scrub down. Rinse off. And you’re done! Bonus points for you if you turn the water off during shampoo and soap up/scrub down. Do you brush your teeth in the shower? Having your gums, arms, and belly cleansed all at once may feel stimulating to you but: stop, it’s totally unnecessary. Oh, and that tissue in your hand? Don’t flush the toilet bowl just to throw that away. There’s a trashcan over there—use it; it doesn’t require gallons of water.
  • In the sink, you ask? Now this is where you brush your teeth—and wash your face! Use the initial cooler water for the former, then the tap warm for the latter. There’s absolutely no need to keep the water running for brushing your teeth, though; you just need to fill a glass for mouth rinsing. If you need to do some shaving, then I would suggest that you fill the sink with a few inches of warm water to rinse your razor. Your faucet’s leaky? Get it fixed ASAP! One day with a leaky faucet = 20 gallons of water put to waste.
  • Ooh, toilets! Time for some real talk: flushing ranks among the biggest water hogs in the house. The average person flushes 5x a day, and conventional toilets can use 5-7 gallons per flush (See what I mean by “don’t throw stuff down the toilet?” You’re welcome!). Your best bet? Get a low-flow toilet, which uses as little as 1.6 gallons. Or if not, place a water-filled plastic bottle in your toilet tank to reduce the amount of water used per flush.

In the laundry room:

  • When it comes to wash loads, I usually suggest three things: first, wait until you have a full load; or (if that’s not an option) then, second, readjust your load-size control; or if you prefer doing it in small batches, then at least match the water level to the size of the load. Do any of these, and you get the most use from the water.
  • How old is your clothes washer? 10 years? Older? If it is, then it may no longer be as water-efficient as it could be. Technology has changed dramatically, and today’s machines use significantly less time, energy, and water—with some, saving up to 20 gallons of water per load! Get on the Internet now and do your research.
  • Head to a Laundromat, I’m serious! I know, I know, this is beyond the front door—BUT: the average home clothes washer typically uses 30-40 gallons of water per load, while commercial washers in self-service laundries use half the amount. In a year, the typical household washes 400 loads. That being said, you could save millions of gallons of water just by using local Laundromats.

In the garden:

  • If you love gardening as much as I do, then I'm happy to report that there are plenty of ways to save water while having fun in your little corner of paradise! I myself see to it that I complement my water-saving garden design with heaps of water-saving habits—all of which are pretty much mentioned in this pretty nifty infographic I found online. From planting drought-resistant plants, down to scheduling water times, this infographic's got you covered.

What is the biggest water hog inside your home?

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Be water-smart!

Let's get real here: just because the global water crisis barely gets prime news airtime doesn't mean it shouldn't be taken seriously. It exists; but with a few small changes to our daily habits—at home, in the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, and garden—we can always turn things around. Sure, it's a long, arduous process, but small daily doses of change can go a long way towards alleviating this growing problem.

How do you save water at home? Let me know in the comments down below :)

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    • profile image

      Thys de Lange 21 months ago

      Many people don't realise that since they have running water in their houses other people mostly in Africa have no running water they have no access to water, water has to be fetched and carried all the way home...People need to be educated about the importance of using water wisely it can save you money and you will be saving it for future use for other people. a company was formed by the government in South Africa to create an awareness that we need to be a bit more careful about how we use water.how do you save that little water daily? teach others http://www.inkomaticma.co.za/

      If you have any ideas of how water can be saved please let us know

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 21 months ago from the short journey

      The concept of being careful with water has a broad scope and scale which we should give attention to. Finding ways to help people who do not have good access to water is a positive goal, but to say that water is becoming scarce is a disservice to the efforts. You might find the following helpful: http://water.usgs.gov/edu/watercycle.html

      That the earth was given a closed water cycle system is a comforting fact in the face of all the talk about water being used up:

      http://www.icr.org/water-cycle

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