Quick Tips for Conserving Water in the Home
Let’s talk about water! Water is a precious, vital resource that all living organisms depend on. You might be thinking to yourself, why is conserving water important? While the earth has been nicknamed the ‘blue planet’ because 70% of the surface is covered by water, only 0.4% of that is drinkable and accessible to the 7.7 billion or so humans that share this planet. Factors such as rising temperatures, droughts, pollution, and demand from heavily populated areas can place added stress on those water supplies.
So how do we ‘run out’ of water?
The water on earth continuously moves through a hydrological cycle. This process helps to transport and replenish surface water and groundwater supplies that we draw from for fresh drinking water. When we consume too much too quickly, the supplies cannot be replenished fast enough to meet our demand. We also use these precious freshwater supplies to take showers, wash dishes, do laundry, and water our lawn. Changing our habits to be more mindful of our water consumption is a proactive way to conserve and protect one of earth’s most precious resources. The world’s future health and prosperity is dependent on the continued supply of clean, safe water.
Bonus: Conserving water is wallet-friendly! Each gallon of water you use in your home is counted towards your monthly utility bill. Finding ways to reduce or reuse your water will help cut down on monthly expenses.
The average American uses 100 gallons of water per day in their home. Check out your daily indoor water use with this calculator from the USGS. Then, read our list below of some water-saving strategies you can implement in your home today.
- The largest use of water in the home is flushing the toilet. Make sure you have an upgraded model that limits the amount of fresh water used for flushing waste. Throw waste such as facial tissues in the garbage and insects outside to limit the number of flushes.
- Receive a rebate worth up to $100 through the Toilet Rebate Program when you upgrade your toilet to a water-saving model. This program has resulted in saving 2.4 million gallons of water per day by replacing 135,000 inefficient models.
- Turn off water while brushing your teeth or shaving.
- Old, inefficient showerheads can pump out up to 5 gallons per minute. This means a 10-minute shower can result in 50 gallons of fresh water down the drain! Update your showerhead and try to spend 5 minutes or less in the shower. Set a timer, and make it a fun challenge!
- Scrape food off and let dishes soak before handwashing. Do not leave water running while washing, only turn water on to quickly rinse each dish. Or, have one basin with hot soapy water and fill the other with warm rinsing water.
- Limit dishwashing to FULL loads, and you can save at least 2 gallons a load.
Around the House
- Look for EnergyStar and EPA WaterSense Not only do these products help lower your utility bills, they help save at least 20% water compared to conventional brands. High efficiency washing machines use around 7 gallons per load where older, conventional models can use up to 40 gallons per load. You can see how one family doing multiple loads of laundry a week could quickly use up hundreds of gallons of fresh water each week through washing clothes alone.
- Install a faucet aerator. This inexpensive tool is one of the most cost-effective water saving measures. It is an easy to install screen screwed onto the tip of water faucets. It decreases flow without sacrificing performance by delivering a mixture of water and air. You can pick one up free from the City of Smyrna.
- Assess and reduce water leaks. Use food coloring or testing tablets to identify any leaks in your home and amend them accordingly.
- Washing your car at home can harm local waterways. The dirty water that runs onto the pavement carries the soapy water to the closest storm drain, which eventually leads to our rivers, streams, and lakes. This can be a big problem for aquatic life while also contaminating our own drinking supply. Consider taking your car to a commercial car wash that utilizes water reclamation technology that responsibly filters, cleans, and recycles dirty water. These systems are also much more efficient and require significantly less fresh water to clean each car compared to washing your vehicle at home.
Lawn and Garden
- Did you know that you could recycle your water? Seven billion gallons of clean drinking water are dumped onto our lawns each day! By capturing rainwater from your roof and diverting greywater from your house, you can limit the demand on our freshwater supply. Learn more about water recycling here.
- Georgia law requires that watering of lawns and outdoor plants must be restricted to the hours of 4 pm and 10 am. One inch of rain or water every 7-10 days is all your plants need.
- Set your lawn mower blades to the right height depending on the species and climate. Longer blades of grass will develop a deeper root system that can collect more water and nutrients from the soil and are more resistant to drought.
- Sweep away lawn clipping from your driveway and walkways rather than using a hose to wash away debris.
- Plant native species or plants well adapted to your region. Group plants with the same watering needs together.
- Click here for more info on water-wise landscaping
Smyrna residents can pick up test tablets to see if they have a leaky toilet and a high-efficiency retrofit faucet aerator here. Old toilets can be dropped off at “CHaRM“ which is the Center for the Hard to Recycle Materials in Atlanta
Remember: We do not have an endless water supply, every drop counts!
By: Elizabeth Smith
Elizabeth is serving as an intern with Keep Smyrna Beautiful for the Fall 2019 semester. She is currently studying environmental geosciences at Georgia State University with focuses on water science and sustainability. She is passionate about protecting and preserving the earth’s natural resources and hopes to share proactive ways that we can all contribute to creating a healthier, more sustainable planet.