Water Conservation: 6 Ways To Get Serious About Water Usage

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boy drinking a glass of water

Conserving water is the right thing to do for your environment, but guess what — it helps your bottom line, too. Here’s how to do it painlessly.


There is no doubt: We go through a lot of water. In fact, the average person uses 100 gallons of water a day. Think about that: Imagine 100 gallon bottles of water lined up on your lawn. Now multiply that for each member of the family. That’s enough water to float a boat!

But how much does all that water cost? We use water so freely that it sometimes comes as a shock when the bill pops up in the mailbox. Much has been made lately about conserving water to help the environment, but what about conserving water to help your personal bottom line? That’s a win-win situation.

So in honor of keeping more money in your bank account, here are some ways to conserve water in your house without upsetting your lifestyle.

1. Tackle leaks right now

If you see that dripping from your faucet, or notice that the underside of the sink is damp, or worry about the wetness around the bottom of the toilet, you’ve got some work to do — right now. Today.

A simple, slow leak of one drop every ten seconds adds up to about a gallon a day, which translates to about 25 gallons a month, according to the American Water Works Association. The longer you let it go, the worse it can get. Fix the problem now, or call out a plumber to handle it in the morning — either way, get it done.

dripping bathroom tap

2. Don’t flush every time

Before you saw “eeewwww” and stop reading, remember this little jingle: “If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down.” In other words, save on your water bill by flushing the toilet only when necessary.

Really don’t like that idea? Invest in a low-flow toilet with two options; the regular flush and the lighter flush. This will reduce the water you use on the “yellow” and use more water for…well, you know.

3. Revamp your shower

The average shower takes about eight minutes. Depending upon your faucets, that could be just fine, or it could send your water bill ticking up faster than you can get that shampoo out of your hair.

Low-flow showerheads can cut down dramatically on the usage, and some are designed to make up for the loss by applying extra water pressure. The result? You might still lounge in the shower, but you are saving money while doing it.

4. Take a look at your faucets

How many times do you wash your hands in a day? Now look at your faucets. Are you using aerators on them? Flow-restricting aerators can cut down on the flow of water from the faucet, but they can also increase the water pressure, so you don’t even notice the difference.

That means plenty of water to wash your hands, but no guilt about letting water gush untamed from the faucet while you get clean.

5. Run only a full appliance

It sounds like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised by how many people choose to run a half-load of laundry because their favorite pair of jeans is dirty. Exercise serious self-control and wait until the washer is full. Do the same with the dishwasher.

man loading dishwasher

It can save you a great deal of money, even if you are using the most energy-efficient models available. But speaking of dishwashers, keep in mind that cleaning a few dishes by hand after each meal — and doing it fast — can save you even more money in the long run.

6. Let the lawn go

I know it sounds like sacrilege, but a brown lawn isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This is especially true if you live in an area where drought is a challenge, such as the currently parched California. Can’t stand to let the grass die?

Invest in plants that are drought resistant, use tightly-planted ground cover that will keep moisture in, and consider what I call the “Arizona look” — a yard filled with handsome pebbles, cobblestones, and other attractive coverings, dotted only here and there with greenery.

Final tips

When it comes to water usage, these are just a few simple steps to take, but don’t forget the big steps. Washing your car can use up a ridiculous amount of water, and filling that swimming pool can take even more.

In fact, swimming pools can lose thousands of gallons over a season to evaporation alone. Can give up the pool but can’t stand that messy driveway? Get rid of leaves and debris with a quick session with a leaf blower first, then wash it fast with a high-pressure hose. Or just live with it — it’s better for the environment and it saves you money, too. A dusty car or a dirty driveway is a small price to pay for big bucks.

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Shannon Dauphin Lee

Shannon Dauphin Lee is a journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.