More water is wasted in your bathroom than anywhere else in your house. Aside from being aware of consumption, consider installing water saving fixtures. This can be as simple as a brick in the toilet tank, or as elaborate as a grey water system.
Upgrade your toilet
According to the EPA, your toilet is responsible for 30% of your household water use. The simplest thing to do is not flush pee every time. If you think that’s gross (and I know people who do!), get a dual-flush toilet or a kit to retrofit your existing toilet. There is a 2-sided button on top of the tank. One side uses a little water to flush (for pee), and the other side uses more water (for solids). A waterless urinal is another way to not see your pee and not waste water.
All new toilets are now low-flow. A traditional toilet uses 3 gallons per flush, and a low-flow uses 1.5, which is quite a savings. If a dual-flush toilet is not in your budget, at least replace your old one with a new one. Old water hogs make great planters in the garden. Upcycle!
Rethinking the flush
Consider installing a wash sink as your tank lid. You wash your hands after using the toilet, and the water drains into the tank for flushing. You can also loop a grey water system from your shower and washing machine to flush your toilet. I love that idea!
The old-fashioned outhouse was upgraded to an indoor composting toilet in the last few decades. These use little or no water, and they turn human waste into compost. A friend rented a home with a composting toilet. Waste dropped from the second floor loo to a bin in the basement. She scooped compost from it via an exterior hatch after six months or so.
I would undoubtedly opt for a composting toilet in my next house, but I will have to check the building codes first. You should, too.
More efficient sinks and showers
I love public washrooms that have motion sensors. You’ve all seen them. You put your hands under the faucet, and warm water runs out. You don’t have to touch a faucet 100s of people have touched (ew!), but even better, water use is regulated. I have seen people turn on the water, soap up their hands, put a little water on them, lather them up, and wash, all while the water is running!
I was once in a hotel with a woman who turned on the bathroom water, put toothpaste on her brush, got the brush wet, then brushed her teeth while wandering around the room. The water was running the whole time!
Motion sensors in a sink would put these environmentally destructive habits to rest. If you let the water run like this at home, stop it!!
Low-flow showerheads and aerators save water. They are not expensive to install, so their payback time is quick. The EPA has a new 3rd party label called WaterSense. Fixtures with this certification cut water usage by at least 30%. New homes can even be certified as water efficient with this label.
Other measures and benefits
Installing a water meter that takes daily readings will tell you exactly how much water you use on a regular basis. When you see your use, you can figure out where to cut back. There are also many free and cheap apps that help you monitor your water use.
To save water means saving natural resources, and in this era of widespread drought, saving water is crucial to the life of the planet and its inhabitants. We can survive without food, but not without water.
You will also save money on your monthly water bill, and you will save again by not having to heat that wasted water.
Finally, check with your utility and city for incentives for installing water saving features, and keep on saving!