Water can be one of the most expensive household bills, but there are so many easy ways to save water. Maybe not everything on this list will work for you, or even apply to you, but for most households at least some of these little changes will be easy to make. Some of them, you’ll barely even notice and in time you won’t remember you used to do it differently.
Showering and bathing
Showering accounts for about 30% of the total water use in most households. This is an area where there are lots of ways to save water.
- In the shower, only run water when you’re standing under it. Turn it off while you’re lathering hair, conditioning hair, shaving or soaping up. You’d be surprised how much this saves over time.
- Alternately, get a water saving shower head with a trickle, pause, or “eco-rain” setting. These are inexpensive, easy to install, and getting more efficient all the time. And you can switch between a powerful setting to, say, rinse conditioner out of your hair or a trickle that’s just enough to rinse razors while shaving.
- Consider using a leave-in conditioner so you don’t have to spend a couple of minutes’ worth of water rinsing out conditioner. (I can’t use this tip, but if you only need light conditioning, it may work for you.)
- Try waxing, depilatories or electric razors to avoid using water for shaving.
- Combine activities in the shower strategically. Leave conditioner on your hair while you shave. You can do both these things with little or no water running, then let the shower rinse off the shaving stuff while you rinse the conditioner from your hair.
- How full does the tub really need to be for your bath? The truth is, you can get clean with just a small amount of water in the tub. Use a cup to pour water over you for rinsing.
- At the sink: set up your routine so you can use cold water first. And if your bathroom is like mine, the hot faucet runs cold for at least 30 seconds anyway. Use that cold water to rinse your toothbrush, rinse mouthwash down the drain, etc. By the time you’re ready to wash your face, the water is warm.
- Do you really need to shower as often as you do? Sponge baths can replace many some of your showers. If you feel like you splash water everywhere doing it at the sink, do it in the tub or shower: just run short busts of water and use a cup to rinse soap.
- Don’t run water the whole time you’re brushing your teeth or washing your face. Even turning it off just a few seconds here and there really adds up.
- Only flush when necessary. Opinions differ on when exactly it’s necessary, but there’s nothing dirty about pee.
- If you’re buying a water saving toilet, read reviews to make sure yours has a good, strong flush (you don’t have to spend a lot). It won’t save water if you need to flush more than once to get stuff down it.
Ways to Save Water In the Kitchen
- Again, install water-saving faucets if possible. Sometimes just changing out the aerator will do the trick.
- Don’t use the dishwasher until you have plenty of dishes for it. In between times, a small sink of soapy water will get the dishes at least as clean.
- Scraping dishes just after use reduces the time needed for washing. Train yourself and your family to do this when they take dishes to the sink.
- Instead of running the tap until water gets hot, heat water in a tea kettle.
- Do you really like ice? Some people do, but for most of the year I find I’m perfectly happy to drink water and soda straight out of the fridge. Give it a try. The less ice you use, the more water you save.
- Do you really need to wash clothes every time you wear them? Unless you have a sweaty or dirty job, the odds are most of your clothes can be worn at least twice before starting to look or smell at all like they need a wash.
- Always wait to do laundry until you’ve got reasonably full loads. If you have a small household and this seems impossible, consider getting a portable washing machine.
- Do some pieces of laundry by hand – especially delicates and undies. Not only can this save water (especially since these are articles of clothing that need washing more often than the rest), but it can make them last longer.
- If you’re buying a washer, look for one that boasts low water consumption. I can attest firsthand this will really, really make a difference on your bills.
Using a batch of water more than once is another great way to save money.
- Rinse veggies over a bowl in the sink. Use the runoff water to water your plants.
- It doesn’t take much soapy water to clean a whole house. Make up a small bowl or sink of soapy water and see how far you can go on it. If you come across any serious grease or dirt, rinse your cloth under a small stream of tap water before dipping it in your soapy water again to avoid contaminating your cleaning water.
- Always collect the water you run before it gets hot enough for a shower. That’s perfectly clean tap water, so put it in your kitchen sink to do dishes, or water your plants, or even drink it or make coffee or cook with it (assuming the bucket you use to collect it is cleaned regularly).