February 13, 2012

Everyday Green's Guide to Water Conservation

Even if you don't live in one of the many communities currently facing a serious water shortage or drought, you can still help the planet and save yourself money by conserving water. There is as much water in the world today as there was thousands of years ago. Nearly 97% of the world's water is undrinkable and another 2% is locked in ice caps and glaciers. That leaves only 1% to meet all our agricultural, manufacturing, and personal needs.

Everyone can take at least few of these simple steps to help conserve such a valuable commodity.

At Home
Fix those leaks. Running toilets, dripping faucets, and other leaks can add up to over 10,000 gallons of wasted water every year. That's more than 1 trillion gallons of water leaking from U.S. homes each year. Check your plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems regularly and fix any leaks right away to avoid such waste.

Put an aerator on all household faucets and cut your annual water consumption by 50%.

Install low-flow shower heads to save water without sacrificing pressure. An efficient shower head will save a family of four up to $285 per year. They typically cost less than $15 and are simple to install.

Install a low-flow toilet. They use only 1.6 gallons per flush, compared to 3.5 gallons per flush for pre-1994 models. If you have an older model, adjust your float valve to admit less water into the toilet's tank.

Check out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's WaterSense website for help selecting water-efficient shower heads, toilets, faucets, and other bath accessories. Products and services that have earned the WaterSense label have been certified to be at least 20 percent more efficient without any sacrifice in performance.

Only run the washing machine and dishwasher when they are full. Doing so can save up to 1,000 gallons of water a month.

Instead of rinsing dishes with water, scrape them off before loading into the dishwasher. Toss food scraps into a compost bin rather than using a garbage disposal.

Instead of running the faucet every time you want a cool glass of water, keep a pitcher of filtered tap water in the refrigerator.

Keep the water you use to cook and rinse produce to water plants.

Shorten your shower by a minute or two to save up to 150 gallons of water per month.

Turn the water off when you brush your teeth to save 4.5 gallons of water each time.


Outdoors
Landscape your yard to use less water. Opt for more flowerbeds, walkways and drought-tolerant plants.

Aerate your lawn at least once a year so it can better absorb water.

Spread mulch around plants for better moisture retention.

Water your lawn and garden in the morning or evening when it's cooler to cut down on evaporation.

Install a rain barrel to collect rainwater that can be used to water indoor and outdoor plants and wash your car. You'll save water, reduce the amount of pollutants pouring into local storm water systems, and help your plants grow better (compared to plants watered with chlorine- and fluoride-treated tap water).

Sweep your driveway, walkway, deck, and front steps with a broom rather than using a garden hose.


Out and About
Make water conservation a habit you keep at work and at the homes of family and friends. Lead by example.

When staying at a hotel, reuse your sheets and towels.

Buy less. Everything requires water to manufacture. The less you buy, the smaller your water footprint. If you truly need something, first consider re-purposing something you already own or purchasing used. Buy reusable products rather than throwaway products and always remember to recycle.

Teach others. Instill the importance of water conservation in your children early on. Educate your family and friends and start a campaign at work. Just getting one person to make a simple change can make a difference. Remember: Every bit helps!


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