Although most Western countries are fortunate that we can turn on a tap and clean, drinkable water comes out, there is a growing awareness that we need to conserve this valuable resource. Severe droughts have shown us just how much we can take water for granted with the Environmental Protection Agency estimating that the average family of 4 uses 400 gallons of water per day.
You and your family are absolutely in favor of “going green” and reducing water consumption where you can – but without getting too extreme or spending a ton of money, how do you start? As a family, you can implement some simple water conservation practices and tools to reduce your usage. Not only will you save money on your water bill and reduce your environmental footprint, but you’ll pass on good habits to your children as well.
Turn off the faucet
We all intuitively know this is a bad habit, but did you know it can waste up to 2 gallons of water per minute? Get the whole family in the habit of turning the water off while you brush your teeth, wash your face, shave, and wash the dishes. Any time that you’re not actually using the water, this is one of the simplest ways to stop clean water from going needlessly down the drain.
Bonus: Install low-flow faucet aerators and a low-flow showerhead. The EPA labels products “WaterWise” to help you choose the items that will significantly reduce water flow without leaving you with only a trickle.
Use your dishwasher
Believe it or not, your dishwasher is probably more efficient than your best efforts at washing the dishes by hand – provided you run it when it’s full. If you don’t have a dishwasher, the best way to reduce your average home water use is the double sink or two-tub approach: one full of soapy water, and one full of rinse water. This means you can wash a sink full of dishes without needing to constantly run the tap.
Wait until you have a full load of clothing to wash and adjust the water level accordingly
The EPA estimates that 22% of home water use comes from doing laundry alone. When you have kids, things just get dirty – but if you wait until you have a full load, or at least adjust the water level to reflect a small load of clothing, you can put a big dent in your own family’s use. Not to mention the savings on your electric bills from all of the hot water you will save!
If you water your garden regularly, there’s a good chance a lot of water is lost to evaporation. Consider installing a drip irrigation system that will slowly feed your precious plants the water they need. If that is out of reach for your family, choose to water in the cooler parts of the day – like the evening – when the water is less likely to evaporate immediately.
Harness the power of your purchases
Because water is required to make basically everything you buy, you can also reduce water use at home by consciously choosing how you shop. For example, it takes 3 liters of water to produce one liter of bottled water – as opposed to purchasing a filter for in-home use. Or when shopping for your coffee beans, choosing the items that have the “Rainforest Alliance” seal and opting for shade-grown varieties means saving water in the tropical locations where they are grown. Purchasing locally also cuts down on the amount of gasoline needed to get your food to your plate – and one gallon of gasoline requires 13 gallons of water to produce. The possibilities for outside-the-box methods of reducing water use are endless!
Whether your focus is on reducing your environmental footprint or just reducing your monthly water bills to help your family budget, decreasing your water usage is a healthy habit the whole family can get behind – one small step at a time.