Use the Dishwasher
Odd as it may seem, studies have shown that in households with two or more people, a dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes by hand. To get the most significant savings, scrape your dishes clean, don't prerinse them, and run the dishwasher only when it's completely full.
Showers, Not Baths
The average bath uses between 30 and 50 gallons of water. And that's if you only fill the tub once—most bathers add more hot water as the bath water cools. An old shower uses about 20 gallons of water, but installing a modern low-flow showerhead can reduce water consumption to just 10 gallons per shower—assuming you don't stay in there all day.
Tame the Toilet
Toilet flushing accounts for more water usage than any other activity in the home. That's why it's so important to replace old toilets, which use between 5 and 7 gallons of water per flush, with an efficient modern toilet that uses only 1.6 gallons. Leaky toilet tanks are also huge water wasters; a faulty flush mechanism in the tank allows water to slowly and silently leak into the bowl. To detect a toilet-tank leak, remove the tank cover and add a few drops of food coloring to the water. Wait 30 minutes, then check the water in the toilet bowl. If it has turned the hue of your food coloring, then the tank is leaking. Repair or replace the flush mechanism.
Don’t use the toilet as a trash can. Dispose of facial tissues, diaper wipes, cotton swabs, and bandages in a trash can; never flush them down the toilet. Besides clogging your pipes, you're also wasting water.
Fix Faulty Faucets
Sooner or later you'll probably find at least one dripping faucet in your home. A little drip may not seem like a big deal, but a faucet leaking one drop per second wastes about 2700 gallons of water per year! If you don't repair the leak promptly, it'll worsen over time and waste even more water (leaks never heal themselves).
You can easily stop leaky faucets without calling a plumber. Do-it-yourself faucet-repair kits are sold at most hardware stores and home centers. Check the faucet's installation manual to make sure you buy the right replacement parts.
Insulate Hot-Water Pipes
Pipe insulation might not jump to mind as a way to save water, but it should. Just think about all the water that's wasted while you stand there waiting for the water in from your sink or shower to get hot. If you wrap every hot-water supply pipe in your home with thick foam-rubber insulation, the water inside the pipe will stay hot longer, reducing the amount of time it takes for hot water to reach the faucet. As a bonus, you'll also save on energy because it won't take as much to heat your water.
Today's super-efficient washing machines use much less energy and water than models built just 10 years ago, but you can reduce water consumption even further.First, wash only full loads of laundry. If you must wash a partial load, adjust the water level to match the load. Avoid the permanent-press setting, which uses additional water during the final rinse cycle. Replace rubber water-supply hoses with braided stainless-steel hoses, which are much more durable and less likely to crack and burst open. And when leaving home for vacation or extended periods of time, shut the hot- and cold-water valves, just in case a hose ruptures.
Don't thaw frozen food under warm running water. Instead, thaw them on the counter or, especially in the case of meats, in the refrigerator. Rather than boiling vegetables in a pot, steam them in a microwave oven, which requires very little water. Wash fruits and vegetables in a bowl of water rather than under a running faucet. You'll save more than 3 quarts of water each time. Even if you don't use a Brita or some other kind of water-purification pitcher, keep a pitcher of drinking water in the fridge. You'll save more than half the amount of water versus running the faucet until the water turns cold.
Lawn and Garden
Spread a thick layer of bark mulch around flower beds, trees, shrubs, and gardens. Mulch not only blocks out weeds, but it helps retain moisture so you won't need to water as often. When using lawn sprinklers, ensure they're not spraying the house, street, driveway, sidewalk, or patio. And if you've got an automatic sprinkler system, install a rain sensor that will shut down the system during a rainstorm. Water early in the morning or late in the day, when temperatures are cooler and less of the water will evaporate before it can soak in. (Read more smart watering tips here.)
Never use a garden hose to rinse leaves and grass clippings off driveways, sidewalks, and patios. Use a wide push broom, rake, or leaf blower.
Author: Joseph Truini