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3 Ways to Save Water (and Money too!)

Posted May 01 2009 10:39pm

Recently, I was at a friend’s house and we were in the kitchen.  My friend turned the faucet on and then got really passionate about our discussion.  She proceeded to stand at the sink, talking non-stop for over two minutes while the water ran, unused.  I wanted to jump out of my skin!  All that nice clean water…down the tubes!  All that money wasted!

I admit, over the last five to ten years or so, I’ve slowly become a bit obsessive about resource conservation.  I have always cared about the environment, but recently, I have proactively made changes in my life to help save resources…and in turn, save money.

Caring for the environment may seem like a major task, but little things can add up.  More importantly, however, as you do your part to help conserve energy and resources you are actually helping yourself save money.  The less energy you use, the less money you spend.  The less gas you use, the less money you spend.  The less water you use, you guessed it, the less money you spend.  Whether you believe in global warming or not, you have to admit that saving money is definitely a good reason to care about resource management.

And there is no better time than the present to save money.  Here are three simple ways to do so on water:

1. The Bathroom Sink: As suggested in my story above, any time you use water from a faucet, there is most likely an opportunity to cut costs.  If you are doing something, and you literally don’t have your hands or something under the water, turn the water off.

  • In the Bathroom: For instance, when you brush your teeth, turn the water on to wet your tooth brush and then turn it off.  Once you are done brushing your teeth, turn the water on and rinse your tooth brush.  Point: There is no need to run the water as you are brushing.  Your money is literally going down the drain.  This can apply to washing your face, as well:  Wet your face and hands.  Turn the water off and then lather up.  Once you are done lathering, turn the water back on to rinse.
  • In the Kitchen: It is very easy to let the water run endlessly in the kitchen.  However, there are a couple of ways to save money on water here as well.
    • On-Off System: When you do the dishes or are cleaning the kitchen, turn the water on to get the sponge wet and soapy.  Once the sponge is ready to scrub, turn the water off until you need to rinse.
    • Soaking System: Often, we rinse our dishes before we actually put them in the dishwasher.  Keep a small bucket or side sink filled with water and let the dirty dishes sit for an hour.  This will loosen up the worst of the dirt and will require less water than if you were to rinse each dish separately.  Further, when you use your dishwasher, you can run a lighter cycle, once again, using less water.

2. The Toilet: Today, there are low-flow toilet fixtures that use a lot less water when you flush.  These fixtures reduce the gallons per flush from 6 gallons for a regular toilet to 1.6 gallons for a low-flow fixture.  And, in Europe, they have #1 and #2 flushers.  Basically, if you pee, you use the smaller flusher and if you poop, you use the bigger flusher.  Unfortunately, we don’t see this system so often in the States.  However, at home, you can save money by either installing low-flow fixtures or implementing a simple system of, “Unless you poop, don’t flush.”  You may think this is gross, but let’s face it…pee is not very smelly and will not crud up your toilet.  However, once you do poop… definitely flush!

3. The Garden:

  • Pick Plants Wisely: If you have a garden, make sure that you plant indigenous (native to your climate) plant life.  Using plants that are native to your local climate means that they shouldn’t need to be additionally irrigated and should thrive naturally without the extra cost of watering them.
  • Sprinkle Strategically: If you use a sprinkler system for your lawn, don’t put it on an automatic schedule.  Instead, track the weather so that you run your sprinklers on hot, dry days.  Otherwise, you very well may be sprinkling when you don’t need to and over-watering your lawn.

Do you try to conserve water?  What tricks do you use to cut-back on water use?  Have you seen a decrease in your water bills?

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Although I’m not going to over-elaborate on each of these points, here is a quantitative look at this.  Let’s say you brush your teeth for a minute, two times a day.  If you calculate this by 365 days a year, you will have saved 730 minutes of running water.  A typical faucet releases approximately 3 gallons per minute (low-flow fixtures release 1.5 gallons a minute).  Meaning, you could save 2,190 gallons a year just while brushing your teeth.  Not to mention if you add that to all of the other water uses, you could be saving a lot!

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