While water is a renewable resource, it is not as renewable as many people believe. As the world's population continues to grow, the amount of fresh water needed to sustain life also rises. According to the University of Michigan, less than 3 percent of the earth's total water supply is freshwater, and 70 percent of the freshwater is frozen in the icecaps of Antarctica and Greenland. Conserving water around your home will lower your water bill while reducing the strain your household puts on municipal freshwater supplies.
Turn off Your Taps
Allowing the water to run while using your sink can result in excessive waste of water. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth or scrubbing dishes; only turn it on while rinsing your toothbrush or a dish. When washing fruits or vegetables, fill a pan or bowl with water for rinsing instead of washing them under running water. Running water results in waste because the faucet will produce more water than you realistically need to complete a task --- according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a conventional faucet releases 5 gallons of water every two minutes (see References 4).
Wash Full Loads
Only run your washing machine and dishwasher when they are completely full. Doing so will result in fewer loads and maximum water conservation. According to the EPA, simply following this practice with your dishwasher can save up to 600 gallons of water per month (see References 4).
Water Your Lawn Wisely
If you water your lawn every day, switch to watering it every other day --- or every several days --- to save water. Check the placement of your sprinklers to make sure they are positioned in a way that no water is ending up on your house, windows or sidewalk. If you notice excessive water run-off on the sidewalk and in the gutter, decrease your watering time to allow the grass to absorb the water instead of wasting it. Water early in the morning or in the evening to reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation during the heat of the day.
If you have any kind of leftover clean water, use it to water your garden or lawn. For example, instead of draining your fish tank into your sink, take the water and apply it to plants in your garden. If you wash your fruits and vegetables in a bowl, recycle the water on your house plants.
Deal With Leaks
If you notice any leaks in your faucets, toilets, shower heads or sprinkler system, fix them as soon as possible. The EPA estimates that the average American home can waste more than 10,000 gallons of water annually thanks to household leaks (see References 5). If you cannot deal with a small leak immediately, place a pan or cup under the leak to collect the water. Use the collected water on your house plants.
Upgrade Your Appliances
Older dishwashers and washing machines generally have longer rinse cycles than newer models. Switch out the appliances in your home for newer, more environmentally friendly models to conserve water. Look for the EPA's WaterSense label for the most water-efficient models on the market.
Choose Plants Carefully
When choosing plants and flowers for your garden, choose ones that require less water in order to thrive. Ground cover plants that are drought tolerant will keep your garden looking beautiful without the diligent watering required by turf grass. Black-eyed Susans, daylilies, catmint and allium are several varieties of flowers that will thrive without being watered every day, but you should research plants native to your region to find the best options for your garden.
- Water --- Use it Wisely: 100 Ways to Conserve
- University of Michigan: Human Appropriation of the World's Fresh Water Supply; 2006
- University of Rhode Island: Drought-Tolerant Plants
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: How to Conserve Water and Use it Effectively
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Water --- Fix a Leak Week
Based in Colorado, Bronwyn Timmons has been writing professionally since 2009. Her work has appeared on a variety of websites, covering topics such as career and education planning, wedding planning, home improvement, crafts and gardening. Timmons is pursuing her bachelor's degree in mortuary science.
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