Our most precious resource on earth isn’t renewable. The average human body has 50-65% of this resource. Humans can live up to three weeks without food, but they can only last three days without this resource — water. And many of us use it like it will last forever.

On average an American resident uses nearly 100 gallons of water per day, a European uses 50 gallons, and a resident of sub-Saharan Africa uses two-to-five gallons. But water conservation efforts are becoming prevalent in the United States.

Saving water won’t only help preserve the Earth’s most important natural resource, it will save you money and even extend parts of your home. With simple and effective methods you can save water in the home and do your part without actually spending any money.

Conservation is important even if you’ve never lived in an area where there has been an issue. It’s better to take care of a resource before you need it, rather than after.

How Can You Get Started?

We use water for many things in our daily lives: brushing teeth, flushing toilets, watering plants, rinsing fruits and veggies, washing laundry, and more. Our water consumption adds up. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) says that the average family of four uses 400 gallons of water per day. With so many household tasks that require water, there’s plenty of places where we can cut down our use.

Important Facts to Consider:

  • A leaky toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water per day.
  • A low flow showerhead can save 15 gallons of water during a 10 minute shower.
  • In 2009, 45 states reported water stress conditions. This is a big step from only 30 in 1990.
  • Watering your garden with a watering can rather a hosepipe saves water, because up to 1,000 liters of water can be used every hour in a hosepipe.
  • National Geographic says that on average, 10 gallons per day, or 14% of a person’s indoor use of water is lost to leaks. Conservation can be as simple as cutting leaks and repairing faucets and toilets.
  • About 22 percent of indoor home water occurs because of doing laundry. You can save water by simply adjusting settings on machines and having the proper load size. The permanent press setting is notorious for using a lot of water.

A large portion of waste happens outdoors. A quick way to cut consumption is to reduce use by limiting how much water you use outside. Watering in short bursts and before dawn is the best approach. Recommended hours are between 10pm and 6am. This ensures that water can seep deep into soil and roots in the most efficient way possible. If you water at dawn you won’t have to worry about water evaporating in the hot summer sun. Instead, the water will soak in. Some people suggest watering intervals, like five minutes, then 10 minutes for it to soak, then five minutes again.

The Simple Steps to Conservation

Conservation to many people sounds daunting. People worry an entire lifestyle change will need to take place. This is not the case. With simple changes, awareness, and a few baby steps  — you’ll be well on your way to being a water conserving phenom. Where to start:

Turn Water Off In-Between Uses

If you’re brushing teeth, washing hands or fruit, or any task where you’d ordinarily leave water on in between what you’re doing, simply turn it off. Your hands don’t need running water after you rinse and while you’re soaping. Turn it off.

The average faucet uses two gallons of water per minute. This means you can save an incredible amount of water by simply turning off the faucet when not in use.

Fix and Maintain Appliances

Fix all of the leaks in toilets, faucets, and showerheads. You can upgrade to high efficiency products and install aerators to cut down on water amount but not pressure. Never let any leaks go unfixed. Remember, a leaky toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water per day

Make sure that your lawn sprinklers aren’t broken or clogged, and that they aim towards plants and not a sidewalk or driveway.

Only Use the Toilet for Natural Waste

Never use the toilet as an ashtray or a waste basket. Five to seven gallons of water can be wasted by trying to flush a cigarette butt, facial tissue, or trash.

Save Your Extra Water

When you’re waiting for a shower to warm up, you can place a bucket inside to collect all of the cold water that trickles down. This cold water can be used later to flush toilets or water plants.   

This trick can also be applied when rinsing fruits and veggies, after cooking pasta, and especially with all the water left after taking a bath.

Opt for Showers Over Baths

A short 10 to 15 minute shower uses 10 to 25 gallons of water, opposed to a bath that can use up to 70 gallons.

Don’t Pre-Rinse

Most modern dishwashers don’t need this feature to get the job done. Scrape it clean and load it up.

Always Have a Full Load

Have a full load in the dishwasher or the washing machine before you wash. You’re wasting water if you’re filling small loads and going ahead with the process.

Don’t Sweep With Water

Instead of opting for a rinse when sweeping the deck, patio and driveway, use a broom.

“If it’s yellow, let it mellow.”

The phrase, “if it’s yellow, let it mellow,” means, do you really have to flush the toilet after EVERY single use?

Opt for a Car Wash

Car washes are a better option because they usually recycle water. If you opt to wash at home, use a bucket and a sponge to clean the car. Spray it down and rinse when finished. Don’t let water run while you’re cleaning your car, and change the nozzle pressure so only as much water as needed comes out.

Pool Etiquette

If you have a pool, using a cover can save up to 90 percent of water lost to evaporation. Frequently check for leaks and maintain the pool.

More Expensive Steps to Conservation

Swap Fake for Real

Swapping personal plants that require little water or fake plants can save. Some water supply agencies even offer cash rebates if you decide to do this. The LADPW for instance offers $1 per square foot, and the LA Department of Water and Power offers $2 for each square foot of lawn removed. You can also opt for fake grass as another alternative for those who prefer and like the feel of a lawn.

There’s a lot of water-efficient goods you can buy if you’re willing to go that route and make purchases. These include showerheads, taps, toilets, washing machines, dishwashers and many others.

Placing mulch around trees and plants discourages weed growth and helps slow the evaporation of moisture. Adding this and 2-4 inches of organic materials like compost or bark mulch can help soil retain its moisture.

Conservation Life-Hacks

Life-Hack One: You can check for leaks in toilets by adding food coloring. If the coloring begins to appear in the bowl within 30 minutes, you have a leak. Repair the leak immediately.

Life-Hack Two: read the water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the number changes there is a leak.

The Reality

What’s the best way to save water? It starts with you. Be conscious of how much you’re using. Be aware of where you can improve and save. Simple steps can make a world of difference, literally.