Turn on the tap at the kitchen sink and you get fresh water. It would run for hours if you let it. You can even adjust its temperature. This modern amenity makes it easy to take water for granted and belies the fact that the amount of water on Earth is finite and, more importantly, that the amount of Earth’s water available for human consumption is just a tiny fraction of that – only one one-hundredth of 1%. That’s 0.01% of Earth’s water that the planet’s 7 billion human inhabitants must share for drinking, cleaning, growing food, etc.
Water is a precious resource. Despite its ability to surge from every faucet inside and outside your home, fresh water use should be treated with respect:
- for the energy it took to get it to your tap
- for the energy it will take to treat the water that runs down your drains, toilets and gutters before it can be rereleased into the water cycle for future consumption
- for the fact that everyone on Earth draws from the same fixed “pool” of available water, and the water you are using at any given moment is unavailable to the rest of the world
…and with that in mind, Real Goods would like to offer some easy water conservation tips you can bring into your own home to save water, the energy use that goes along with it, and your hard-earned money.
7 Outdoor Water Saving Tips
- Avoid watering your lawn and garden in the middle of the day, when more water is lost to evaporation.
- Use grey water on your lawn and garden whenever possible. Soapy water (from your washing machine, for instance) is actually beneficial to plants because it kills insects and allows water to penetrate deeper into the soil. But don’t use antibacterial soap, which can kill helpful microbes in your soil.
- If you need a shiny car, wash your car on your lawn and you’ll be watering it at the same time. But again, don’t use antibacterial soap.
- Hand-water small patches of grass or garden and leave the larger patches to sprinklers.
- Plant drought-tolerant trees and shrubs and cover their bases with mulch to help them conserve water.
- Use rain harvesting techniques and storage tanks to keep a supply of free, on-demand fresh water.
- Ideally, xeriscape your yard to minimize or eliminate the need for watering. Xeriscaping has other benefits, too, like greatly reducing maintenance and chemical fertilizers.
7 Indoor Water Saving Tips
- Install low-flow fixtures and aerators on faucets and showerheads, and consider replacing toilets that were installed before 1994 with new, low-flow models. Look for the WaterSense® logo on these products to ensure you’re getting the conservation and performance standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency. While an initial investment is required, water savings and local government rebates allow these improvements to pay for themselves in just a few years.
- Find and fix leaks in faucets, toilets and sprinkler systems. Leaks can cost you hundreds of dollars and thousands of gallons of water over the course of a year.
- Wash only full loads of laundry and dishes, and scrape dishes instead of rinsing them before loading the dishwasher.
- Shorten your shower by a minute or two, or turn the water off while you lather up. Avoid washing your hair each time you shower; it’s bad for your hair and adds several minutes to shower time.
- Don’t forget to turn the faucet off while brushing your teeth or shaving. It seems obvious, but a surprising number of people still do it.
- When you change your pet’s water or finish boiling vegetables or pasta, use the grey water on houseplants after it cools down.
- When washing your hands, apply soap before turning on the faucet.
As with all things conservation, small steps add up quickly and spreading the word can increase the effects exponentially. Once you get into some simple water-saving habits it’s pretty easy to keep them up.