We often think of water wastage as big things like taking 30-minute showers or leading a tap run to do dishes or brush your teeth. While these things definitely are significant factors, there are many more minor ways that water wastage in your home can creep up.
On average, an American family can waste up to 180 gallons of water each week. This adds up to 9400 gallons a year; for context, that’s the amount of water you need to do more than 300 loads of laundry. That’s just from small household leaks in one home, so imagine how much water can be saved if you’re diligent about leaks in your home and talk about this with your family and friends.
When saving water, it’s about small steps adding to significant water savings. Not to mention the positive impact that saving water has on the environment, but it also has the other happy benefit of saving money on your utility bills.
Benefits of reducing water wastage
There are many positives regarding reducing your water wastage and consumption. Here are just a few of the main ones:
- Cost savings – Aside from all the environmental positives of reducing your water consumption, you’ll also see a noticeable decrease in your utility bills. Minor upgrades like replacing old, inefficient toilets in your home with WaterSense labeled models can save you up to $130 per year. The savings continue to add up, especially when upgrading the fixtures in your home’s main bathroom to high-efficiency products.
- Reduce your environmental impact – The toll it takes on the environment to collect, store, transport and distribute drinking water is monumental. Using less water means we don’t need to damage the landscape and natural environment by creating dams or rerouting watersheds to provide additional running water.
- Protect drinking water resources – regardless of the area that you live in, you’ve likely heard about the water shortages and droughts facing many places in the US. Safe drinking water is something we have taken for granted in previous years, but it is a resource that needs our attention and care to remain secure.
- Save on costly infrastructure expansions – One of the benefits of reducing water wastage that often gets overlooked is that infrastructure to treat and transport water comes from taxpayer money. If your municipal water supply needs an upgrade, it’s possible that your taxes will increase or that other programs will see reduced budgets, reallocating funds for improving water infrastructure in your area.
Water conservation at home
We’ve come a long way from the days when running water was located only in a single tap or room in most homes. While this advancement makes our day-to-day lives much easier, it also means that many places within our homes can be sources of water wastage. Below, we will talk about where you can reduce water waste in each room in your home.
You can reduce water wastage in your kitchen in two main ways: installing efficient appliances and fixtures and making small adjustments to your daily habits.
Most kitchens have, at minimum, one sink that is used frequently throughout the day. If your kitchen faucet is an older model, it likely isn’t WaterSense rated. This means it is not regulating the flow of water efficiently to provide adequate water pressure while using the least amount of water possible. Upgrading your kitchen faucet to a modern, WaterSense-rated model will greatly reduce the amount of water wasted when you run your kitchen tap.
Many of our homes also include a dishwasher in the kitchen. While having a dishwasher can be a great way to save water, older models are less efficient and mean that you’re using more water than is necessary for a clean load of dishes. Depending on where you live, you may be eligible for a tax rebate if you upgrade your dishwasher to a high-efficiency model. (Bonus – you get a shiny new dishwasher!)
When it comes to your daily habits and how you can adjust them to save water in your kitchen, it’s all about small changes — getting used to washing your dishes by filling up the sink with water, as opposed to running the top while your hand washing, goes a long way toward cutting back on the amount of water that you waste each day.
Bathrooms are some of the prime culprits for water wastage within your home. Leaky taps and toilets will consistently run water throughout the day. While this may seem like a small amount of water, over a month or a year, the amount of water wasted adds to both the environmental impact and your bank account.
Like your kitchen, upgrading your bathroom fixtures like your toilets, taps and showerheads to high-efficiency models is the best way to decrease water wastage immediately.
If you suspect that you have a leak in your toilet, the EPA recommends an easy test. Put a single drop of food coloring into your toilet tank and wait 10 minutes. If, after that time, there is any trace of that food coloring in your toilet bowl, you have a leaky toilet. (Make sure to flush your toilet right after you’re done with this test to avoid any staining.)
It’s easy to get lost in your thoughts while taking a shower or brushing your teeth and not realize that you’ve left the water running for too long. Try leaving yourself a Post-it note on the mirror to get into the habit of turning the water off while brushing your teeth or setting a timer on your phone to remind yourself not to stand in the shower for too long.
Cleaning and doing laundry require water to complete. However, with some mindfulness and modern appliances, you can reduce the amount of water needed for these tasks.
Making sure your washing machine is high-efficiency and using the correct laundry detergent will significantly impact your water wastage. As little as a decade ago, whether a washing machine was considered “good” or not only depended on how clean your clothes were at the end. How much water was used to get that result wasn’t considered, so older models of washing machines tend to require a comparatively gigantic amount of water to get the same effect as newer machines.
You can save water by mopping your floors using a cleaning solution and a dry pad instead of a traditional bucket of water and a mop. If this doesn’t suit you, consider switching to an environmentally-friendly cleaning solution and using the gray water in your garden or to water your lawn. This way, your floors are clean, and that water isn’t going down the drain — it’s a win-win!
One of the most impactful changes you can make to save water outdoors is going from a traditional grass lawn to something more environmentally friendly. There are many options here to suit your design and landscaping desires, like seeding your lawn with clover instead of grass or moving to a succulent garden.
If you don’t want to sacrifice your luscious green lawn, ensure you’re watering it in the most efficient way possible. Early mornings and evenings are the best time to water your yard. That way, your water isn’t evaporating under the sun and will instead soak in.
Home inspections and water wastage
One of the main things a qualified home inspector will look for when assessing your home or condo is any leaks or drainage issues.
Not only can leaks stay hidden behind walls and floors, causing mold and mildew damage and potentially posing health risks, but they also mean water is being wasted. The eagle eye of a home inspector knows just what to look for in both the structure of your home and your appliances and fixtures in order to spot leaks.
Home inspections aren’t mandatory, and they will share none of the information contained in a home inspector’s report with your bank or home insurance company. Their report is just for you to use to make any repairs or upgrades your home needs. A quick search online will give you a list of home inspectors near you, and from there, you can reach out to them for vetting and quotes.
Decreasing water wastage in your home has a myriad of benefits. With some small investments in modern fixtures like taps and showerheads, you can start saving water immediately. Upgrading larger appliances like dishwashers and washing machines may take some saving and planning, but they are worthy investments in both the environment and your future savings. Couple those home upgrades with minor changes to your daily routines, and you’ll be well on your way to reducing water wastage in your home.