In-home water use accounts for an average of 65% of total residential use, while the remaining 35% is used for exterior residential purposes, such as lawn watering and car washing. Average residential in-home water use data indicates that about 40% is used for toilet flushing, 35% for bathing, 11% for kitchen uses, and 14% for laundry. Water saving methods that can be practiced by the individual water user are listed below.
- Take a shower instead of filling the tub and taking a bath. Showers usually use less water than bathtubs.
- Install a low-flow shower head that restricts the quantity of flow at 60 psi to not more than 3.0 gallons per minute.
- Take short showers and install a cutoff valve or turn the water off while soaping and back on again only to rinse.
- Do not use hot water when cold water will do. Washing hands with soap and cold water can save water and energy; hot water should only be added when hands are especially dirty.
- Reduce the level of the water being used in a bathtub by one or two inches if a shower is not available.
- Turn water off when brushing teeth until it is time to rinse.
- Do not let the water run when washing hands. Instead, hands should be wet and water should be turned off while soaping and scrubbing and turned on again to rinse. A cutoff valve may also be installed on the faucet.
- Shampoo hair in the shower. Shampooing in the shower takes only a little more water than is used to shampoo hair during a bath and much less than shampooing and bathing separately.
- Hold hot water in the basin when shaving instead of letting the faucet continue to run.
- Test toilets for leaks. To test for a leak, a few drops of food coloring can be added to the water in the tank. The toilet should not be flushed. The customer can then watch to see if the coloring appears in the bowl within a few minutes. If it does, the fixture needs adjustment or repair.
- Use a toilet tank displacement device. A one-gallon plastic milk bottle can be filled with stones or water, recapped and placed in the toilet tank. This will reduce the amount of water in the tank but provide enough for flushing. (Bricks are not recommended since they eventually crumble and could damage the working mechanism, necessitating a call to the plumber.) Displacement devices should never be used with new low-volume flush toilets.
- Install faucet aerators to reduce water consumption.
- Never use the toilet to dispose of cleansing tissues, cigarette butts or other trash. This can waste a great deal of water and also places an unnecessary load on the sewage treatment plant or septic tank.
- Install a new low-volume flush toilet that uses 3.5 gallons or less per flush when building a new home or remodeling a bathroom.
- Use a pan of water (or place a stopper in the sink) for rinsing pots and pans and cooking implements when cooking rather than turning on the water faucet each time a rinse is needed.
- Never run the dishwasher unless it is fully loaded. This saves water, energy and the expensive detergent will last longer.
- Use the sink disposal sparingly, and never use it for just a few scraps.
- Keep a container of drinking water in the refrigerator. Running water from the tap until it is cool wastes water. Better still, keeping the water in picnic jug on the kitchen counter to avoid opening the refrigerator door saves both water and energy.
- Use a small pan of water when clean vegetables rather than letting the faucet run.
- Use only a little water in the pot and put a lid on it for cooking most food. Not only does this method save water, but also the food is more nutritious since vitamins and minerals are not poured down the drain with extra cooking water.
- Use a pan of water for rinsing when hand washing dishes rather than running the faucet.
- Always keep water conservation in mind and think of other ways to save in the kitchen. Small kitchen savings from not making too much coffee or letting ice cubes melt in a sink can add up in year’s time.
- Wash only a full load when using an automatic washing machine (32 to 59 gallons of water are required per load).
- Use the lowest water level setting on the washing machine for light loads whenever possible.
- Use cold water as often as possible to save energy and to conserve the hot water for uses which cold water cannot serve. (This is also better for clothing made of today’s synthetic fabrics.)
For Appliances and Plumbing
- Check water requirements of various models and brands when considering purchasing any new appliance that uses water. Some use less water than others.
- Check all water line connections and faucets for leaks. A slow drip can waste as much as 170 gallons of water EACH DAY or 5,000 gallons per month, and can add as much as $5-$10 per month to the water bill.
- Learn to replace the faucet washers so that drips can be promptly corrected. It is easy to do, costs very little and can represent a substantial amount saved in plumbing and water bills.
- Check for water leakage that the customer may be entirely unaware of, such as a leak between the water meter and the house. To check, turn off all indoor and outdoor faucets and check the water meter. If the meter continues to turn, a leak probably exists and needs to be located.
- Be sure the hot water heater thermostat is not set too high. Extremely hot settings waste water and energy because the water often has to be cooled with cold water before it can be used.
- Use a moisture meter to determine when houseplants need water. More plants die from over watering than from being on the dry side. Also, moisture-retaining gel packs can be added to potting soil to help retain moisture.
- Use a sprinkler that produces large drops of water rather than a fine mist to avoid evaporation.
- Water lawns early in the morning during the hotter summer months. Much of the water used on the lawn can simply evaporate before it gets on the grass.
- Turn soaker hoses so the holes are on the bottom to avoid evaporation.
- Water slowly for better absorption, and never water in high winds.
- Forget about watering the streets, sidewalks or driveways. They will grow anything.
- Condition the soil with compost before planting grass or flowers so that water will soak in rather than run off.
- Fertilize lawns at least twice a year for root stimulation. Grass with a good root system makes better use of less water.
- Learn to know when grass needs watering. Water when the grass turns a dull gray green color or if footprints remain visible.
- Do not water too frequently. Too much water can overload the soil so that air cannot get to the roots and can encourage plant diseases.
- Do not over water. Soil can absorb only so much moisture and the rest simply runs off. A timer will help. An inch and one-half of water applied once a week will keep most Texas grasses alive and healthy.
- Operate an automatic sprinkler only when the demand on the town’s water supply is the lowest. Set the system to operate between 4:00 am and 6:00 am.
- Do not scalp lawns when mowing during hot weather. Taller grass holds moisture better. Grass should be cut fairly often so that only ½ to ¾ inches are trimmed off.
- Use a watering can or hand water with the hose in small areas of the lawn that need more frequent watering (those near walks or driveways or in especially hot, sunny spots).
- Learn what types of grass, shrubbery and plants do the best in the area and in which parts of the lawn, and then plant accordingly. If one has a heavily shaded yard, no amount of water will make roses bloom. In especially dry sections of the state, attractive arrangements of plants that are adapted to arid to semi-arid climates should be chosen.
- Consider decorating areas of the lawn with rocks, gravel, wood chips or other materials now available that require no water at all. Check with the City Planning Department for restrictions.
- Do not “sweep” walks and driveways with the hose. Use a broom instead.
- When washing your car, use a bucket of soapy water and use the hose only for rinsing.