When reducing your home water use, the first products to consider are the ones you already own: A leaky faucet that drips about five times per minute, for example, wastes roughly 173 gallons (655 liters) per year. That much lost water can have a significant impact on your utility bill [source: U.S. Geological Survey]. The solution for these water-wasters can be as simple as tightening the fittings or purchasing an inexpensive set of new seals.
There are also a number of inexpensive devices that can improve your water use. Many of them focus on a major domestic water consumer: your lawn and garden.
Green, grassy lawns are water hogs: A 1/8-acre (506-square meter) plot of grass may need 3,500 gallons (13,248 liters) of water per week to remain lush and healthy. Compounding that number, traditional sprinkler-based watering techniques throw the water they use into the air, where some of it evaporates without doing a thing for the lawn [source: Service Authority of Prince William County].
But there are simple solutions to this major drain on the water supply. A drip hose, which replaces the sprinkler with a perforated hose that leaks water in a controlled fashion, allows you to release the irrigating water near plants' roots, where it can do the most good. Rain barrels cut down on your utility bills by replacing water from the tap with water from the sky. They collect water from your gutters for garden use; some offer spigots that connect directly to hoses, making it easy to garden without wasting water [source: EnergySavers]. Keep in mind, though, that water barrels may not be legal in your community: Some areas have banned them to protect the water table and prevent mosquito population overgrowth. Check your local regulations before investing in one.
However, if you see a water conservation makeover as the perfect opportunity to invest in new fixtures, you'll be happy to know that manufacturers are offering a wide range of low-flow faucets, showerheads and appliances.
Showerheads may be a simple place to start: Bolt on a new one and you can instantly begin saving water. U.S. federal regulations limit showerheads to a maximum flow rate of 2.5 gallons (9.4 liters) per minute. Low-flow showerheads can often cut that flow rate in half. Some even feature built-in regulators to ensure that the flow stays consistent, regardless of your home's overall water pressure level [source: The Home Depot].
This is a good time to be a water-conscious homeowner. Whether you decide to change your family's water-use habits, invest in technology that makes conservation a no-brainer or embark on a combination of the two, there is an ocean's worth of options, support and technology out there to help you save water -- and money -- around the house.
More Great Links
- U.S. Geological Survey. "Water Science for Schools." Nov. 7, 2011. (Nov. 14, 2011) http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/sc4.html
- Service Authority of Prince William County. "Wise Water Use Tips." (Nov. 14, 2011) http://www.pwcsa.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=10&Itemid=29
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "Resource Manual for Building WaterSense Labeled New Homes." Feb. 2010. (Nov. 12, 2011)
- Elliott, Sara. "How dual-flush toilets work." How Stuff Works. 2011. (Nov. 13, 2011) https://www.howstuffworks.com/dual-flush-toilet.htm
- Mayo Clinic Staff. "Water: how much should you drink every day?" Aug 2, 2011. (Nov. 13, 2011) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/water/NU00283
- Streeter, A.K. "We use how much water? Scary footprints, country by country." Treehugger.com. June 24, 2009. (Nov. 13, 2011) http://www.treehugger.com/clean-water/we-use-how-much-water-scary-water-footprints-country-by-country.html
- Leakbird.com "The Average Monthly Household Water Bill." March 11, 2009. (Nov. 13, 2011) http://www.leakbird.com/running-toilets/the-average-monthly-household-water-bill-5100-water-facts-and-running-toilets-leakbirdx
- Kaufman, Leslie. "Less Water is Bottom Line for Blue Jeans Maker Levis." Mercury News.com. Nov. 4, 2011. (Nov. 13, 2011) http://www.mercurynews.com/green-living/ci_19268384
- The Home Depot. "Showerheads." (Nov. 13, 2011) http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ContentView?pn=Shower_Heads&langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=1
- EnergySavers.gov. "Landscaping water conservation." U.S. Department of Energy. Feb. 9, 2011 (Nov 9, 2011) http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/landscaping/index.cfm/mytopic=11960
- Water-Use It Wisely. "100 ways to conserve." 2011. (Nov. 9, 2011) http://www.wateruseitwisely.com/100-ways-to-conserve/index.php
- EPA WaterSense. "Water Use Today." Nov. 2, 2011. (Nov. 9, 2011) http://epa.gov/watersense/our_water/water_use_today.html
- American Water Works Association. "Water Conservation." 2010. (Nov. 9, 2011) http://www.drinktap.org/consumerdnn/Home/WaterInformation/Conservation/tabid/66/Default.aspx