Down the Drain. How to be Water Wise in 30 Ways

Like in the previous post on air conditioning, water is another drain on your wallet. There are easy ways to reduce how much water you use, and I got the ambition to write another post for your viewing and informational pleasure. The breakdown of an average home’s water use is summarized as big drop of water.

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  1. Add an aerator to all your faucets. This mixes air in with the water which allows it to rinse like it was a regular faucet but with almost 50% less water. Consider putting a bowl under the faucet, capturing it, and using it accordingly.
  2. Use low flow faucets coupled with the aerator.
  3. When turning on a faucet, don’t turn it on all the way. Adjust the flow based on your needs i.e. a low flow for washing your hands and a higher flow to soak. Turn off the faucet while using it too by not letting the water run while brushing or shaving.
  4. Use a flow shower head which is less than 1.5 gpm (gallons per minute). Get one with a mist setting too. I never heard of these until I start researching this and wonder why I wasted my whole life thus far with common shower heads!
  5. Keeping up the theme on low, there’s also low flow toilet bowls! There are also dual- flush options to vary based on whether it’s a #1 or #2. Heck you can even consider a urinal which uses even less. Wow! But really, these low flow devices can save you 30-40% on your water use. So you can cut your water bill nearly in half just with low flow alone.                                                                                                   Level 100 Challenge: Use a composting toilet for little to no water use.
  6. Put a brick inside the toilet tank where the water is stored to reduce the volume of water per flush. Nifty little trick.
  7. Also a new flapper on your toilet can save as much as 5 gallons per flush vs. an older one.
  8. Take shorter showers and less baths. When showering, turn off the water while you lather up which can save up to 2/3 of your water use during a shower.
  9. When brushing your teeth, use a small cup with water instead of running the water
  10. Use a horizontal drum for your washing machine vs. the classic vertical washing machine. This is also called a front-loading washer vs. a top-loading washer (classic models). The reason being is that the regular washers use more water while the horizontal drum only partially fills up with water. The vertical models also spin slower, removing less water, and thus requiring longer drying times. Finally, since water fills up most of the machine, less clothes can be washed in a regular washing machine.
  11. Use the washing machine only when full.
  12. Use an efficient dishwasher which can actually use less water than hand washing. This is because pumps recirculate and reheat water and only use fresh water at the beginning and end of the cycle. There are also water-saver or efficient modes on dishwashers that can reduce water up to 55%. If you want to avoid using a dishwasher, try getting a dual sink that you can fill up. One side to soap the dishes and remove the food, and the other side to soak and rinse. Then use a common dish rack to dry.
  13. A simple trick is to wipe dishes instead of rinsing them before putting them in the dishwasher.
  14. An even easier trick that is totally not like step 10 is to use the dishwasher only when full. Maybe get some extra utensils or glasses if you find one group of utensils runs out before the others.
  15. Use barrels to collect rainwater and pump it out to irrigate your lawn and garden. Click here for a video demonstration. With a little elbow grease, you can pay back the cost of some PVC pipe and a pump with free water to keep your lawn green.
  16. Water plants in the morning or evening to prevent premature evaporation. Essentially it’s money vanishing into the air!
  17. Staying dirty in the garden, we should also mulch it to prevent water evaporation.
  18. Speaking of plants, try drought resistant plants that don’t need as much water.
  19. Speaking of indoor plants, use ice cubes so water is slowly melted into the soiled instead of excess draining out of the bottom.
  20. Use a greywater system i.e. running pipes from your kitchen sink (not food disposer!), shower, dishes, and even laundry to irrigate your garden. Make sure the water ends up in the soil not through a sprinker. As if your garden wasn’t getting enough water from the rain collecting barrels, now your greywater system comes in and says “thirsty still?”. Just be sure not to use soaps, detergents, or cleaners on your clothes, baths, and sinks as well as any beauty products or cleaners that can poison your plants. So I say steer on the side of caution and use water you know will be clean. Even a valve can be used so that its used as greywater when clean or goes down the drain if dirty.
  21. In regards to sprinklers, they spray water in random directions. It’s better to use drip irrigation where less water is directly applied to the plants’ roots. Seriously, do you want to irrigate the part of the garden the weeds grow in? Also group plants together based on water needs, so don’t mix thirsty plants with drought resistant ones. In the bigger picture, agriculture uses the majority of our water and drip irrigation can be a way to create higher food yield per acre-foot of water. Smart Tip: Use a rain sensor and irrigation timer to avoid watering your plants when not needed. You can automate your irrigation with a little DIY.
  22. Keep a pitcher of cold water in your fridge, so you don’t have to run water until it cools down enough.
  23. Combining the last two ideas together, we all wait for water to warm up in the sink too. You can run this water into the greywater system instead of letting it go down the pipes.
  24. Cut out the plastic water bottle by adding a filter to your tap faucet or consider a reverse osmosis system. While this does not necessarily do anything in terms of conserving water, you can have the “spring water” you pay for in bottled water. Looking on a label can show you that even they use public tap water, purify it via. reverse osmosis, and sell it to you!
  25. You got to be Mario once in a while and check your plumbing pipes to make sure there are no leaks. Not only can it cause mold and structural damage, but you can waste a lot of water. Those leaky faucets usually are the prime culprit.
  26. Use a bucket with water for home cleaning or washing the car instead of running a faucet too much or a hose.
  27. Insulate hot water pipes to reduce the time it takes for the water to warm up.
  28. Solar Connection: using solar PV to generate electricity uses water only when the panels are manufactured. After that, the requirement is nil save when some water is used to clean the panels off for better electricity production. However, coal plants use 100-1,000 gallons of water for 1 MWh of electricity.
  29. Clean sidewalks and driveways with a broom not a hose.
  30. Cover your pool when not in use to prevent evaporation.

These articles remind me of how many ways we can live smarter. Sustainability is really just a progression of technology itself. TV sets used to be energy hogs like old mainframe computers. Now we have more computing power in our smartphones than in those older mainframes. Likewise we have used resources in an inefficient manner, and new innovations (i.e. hose vs. sprinkler vs. drip irrigation) create better results with less resources and less cost.

What people need to realize is that environmentally friendly practices also give us more bang for our buck. I can turn on a faucet, let it run until it cools down into a greywater system to irrigate my plants, and finally fill up my glass.

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