Every Drop Counts: How to Save Water - Every Day

Posted by
Emily Wyckoff

Water is essential to everyday life and while it may seem like it is plentiful, it is actually becoming scarcer each day. How did we get here? America's population is growing - it doubled between 1950 and 2000 - while our demand for water tripled in that same time period. The average American uses 100 gallons of water each day. Why should we conserve water? The obvious reason is to save this diminishing resource and preserve water supplies for future generations. But did you know water conservation also helps with your utility bill and helps prevent pollution in local lakes, rivers and watersheds?

You may be surprised which method is the winner in the following everyday match ups when it comes to conserving water:

Bath vs. Shower

Shower! A full bath tub holds an estimated 70 gallons of water while a five minute shower uses approximately 10 - 25 gallons of water.  Also, you do not need to wash your hair every day!  As Dr Oz says, wash it only when it's dirty, but otherwise, it is better for your hair and scalp to let it go a few days.

Dishwasher vs. Hand-washed Dishes

Dishwasher, but only if the load is full. Also, most newer dishwasher manufacturers' instructions state that dishes do not need to be rinsed prior to loading which saves even more water. If you are hand washing dishes, do not wash them with the water running but have a basin of soapy water for washing and a basin of clean water for rinsing.

Light Daily Lawn Watering vs. Deep Weekly Watering?

Weekly or only when your lawn really needs it (a good test is to step on your  grass - if it stays down, it's time to water; if it springs back up, it doesn't need watering). Keeping your lawn longer - around 3 inches high - also promotes water retention. A deep soak will allow the water to get down to the roots while a light sprinkling will allow some water to evaporate. Try putting an empty tuna can on your lawn while watering and when it's full, stop watering. Also make sure your sprinkler is hitting your lawn only and not the house or sidewalk. Your best option is to let your lawn go dormant in the hottest summer months at which point it will stop growing and only need to be watered every three weeks or so. Don't worry - it will come back!

Nighttime Watering vs. Morning

From a water conservation standpoint, it's a draw. Either time of day is good - midday is the worst time as when it's warmer, more water will evaporate and not get down to your grass's roots.  However, lawn care experts recommend watering in the morning or at dusk because night watering can lead to stagnant water and fungus can grow.  Since it is cooler at night, the water is not getting absorbed the same as it does when you water in the morning and allow it to sink in and burn off all day.

Other ways ways to save water at home every day:

Don't leave the water running while you brush your teeth. Use the water to wet your brush and fill a cup for rinsing. Ditto for shaving and washing your hands - turn off the water while lathering and save water in the process.

Skip bottled water and drink tap. Keep a reusable stainless steel water bottle filled and chilled in the fridge to avoid running the water until it's cold enough for your liking.

Take your car to the car wash. Believe it or not, they use far less water than when you do it yourself at home and the toxic run-off goes into the right sewage system because car washes are actually required to set themselves up this way.

Bathe young kids together. When they are little, they don't mind sharing the bath, even if they are not the same gender. 

Be vigilant when checking for water leaks and keep on eye on your water bill - if usage unexpectedly goes up, you probably have a leak.

When it's time to buy a new appliance like a dishwasher or washing machine, or a fixture like a toilet or shower head - buy one that saves water. Ask the retailer about this and look for the energy saver stickers.The Waterpik Ecoflow shower head (see below) is water efficient because it has low flow.

 

Do not defrost food under running water! This is a bad idea anyway, as frozen meats should thaw in the fridge, not under running, hot water for safey purposes. 

So remember - you can make a difference - every drop counts!  Here are 49 Ways to Save Water from the American Energy and Water Savers website