In the United States, 8 percent of the drinkable water is for household use. A family of four uses as much as 146,000 gallons of water every year, and about 10,000 gallons of that is water wasted as a result of leaks. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that an average-sized lawn in the US, when watered for twenty minutes every day, uses the same amount of water that a family uses for a year’s worth of shower.
Imagine how each person’s wasteful use of water translates into a big number when all the figures are combined. According to a Huffington Post article, Americans waste about 1 trillion gallons of water a year. That is equivalent to the capacity of Florida’s Lake Okeechobee. That amount could have been used to provide irrigation in places where water is scarce and droughts are prevalent.
This wasteful use of water does not only mean making the water problem worse. It also means letting thousands of dollars go down the drain. Water bills and sewer bills rise with increased water use.
Whether as a family or as an individual, people can do something in varying degrees to lessen water consumption. We’ve asked, “How can you conserve water at home?” And expert bloggers gave us their two cents on this all-important question.
Read on below for their suggestions.
Using Rain Barrels
Best-selling author Sarah Couture Pope is the nutrition blogger behind The Healthy Home Economist, a health and wellness blog that focuses on evidence-based health approaches.
I use rain barrels! Even though we get plenty of rain here in Florida where I live, I feel it’s important to still be as conservation-minded as possible. Rain barrels are so easy to install and use and actually make watering the garden a snap when you attach a small collapsible hose to the spigot at the bottom of the barrel.
Time Your Shower Heater
This former lawyer is also an eco warrior. She runs Green Talk, a blog about the green lifestyle and organic gardening, among other topics.
Simply turning off the water when not using it. It is so easy to let the water run when you are cleaning dishes or brushing your teeth. We also have a timer on our showers for heating the hot water so we only shower during that time period. Otherwise, we would be wasting a ton of water waiting for it to heat up in the shower. This device saves energy too.
Use Water Bottles
As an educator on natural living, Micaela advocates the use of safe and sustainable products. The owner of Mindful Momma writes about an eco-friendly lifestyle and lobbies for the use of safer chemicals.
As a mom of two teenagers in school and sports, we use a lot of water bottles. Sometimes those water bottles come back with water still inside. Instead of dumping that water down the drain, I use it to water my house plants. It’s a great way to conserve water and get a chore done at the same time!
Check for Leaks
The environmental blogger who runs Greenmoxie grew up in Africa, witnessing the natural beauty of her surroundings fading over time because of pollution. As an advocate of a sustainable lifestyle, Nikki promotes the use of chemical-free products for a safer planet.
There is much you can do to reduce your water consumption at home. I pop a bucket in the shower to catch water and use it to water my houseplants. I use biodegradable soap which has the added bonus of keeping my houseplants bug free.
Check your toilets and taps for leaks. Leaks can account for around 10% of your water bill. Check leaks in your house by reading your meter before work and again when you get home. You can check leaks in your loo by dripping some food coloring in the cistern. If it ends up in the bowl, you need to replace your toilet flapper.
Use Water Only When Needed
Derek is the man behind Natural Papa, a blog on parenting that emphasizes an environment-friendly lifestyle. In 2010, Natural Papa was awarded Best Health and Wellness Website by TreeHugger.
My favorite way of conserving water at home is to only shower when needed—no more than a few times per week—and to use the “Navy shower” method of turning off the water during soap-up and shampoo. Also, only washing hair once per week at the most has not only reduced water usage at home, but has also done wonders for my hair.
My second favorite way of conserving water at home is adopting a vegan diet, which has a much lower water footprint than the standard American diet. My third favorite way is to reuse gray water from the kitchen sink drain, the washing machine, and when running water while waiting for the hot water to get to the tap. We use that for outdoor plants, trees, and gardens.
Use a Water-Saving Toilet
Author Diane Maceachern runs the green blog Big Green Purse and believes in what consumers can do to ensure a sustainable environment.
The easiest way to save water that also saves the most money is to replace an old toilet with a water-saver model that uses 1.6 gallons or less of water per flush. There is a terrific device you can attach to your shower head that turns off the water at the head once it gets hot so you don’t waste a lot of hot water before you get into the shower. You just easily pull a small cord attached to the shower head when you're ready for the shower and voilá—a nice hot shower without a lot of wasted water.
A very simple tip for the kitchen is to fill a pot with warm water and sponge off dishes before loading them in the dishwasher, rather than rinse them off under running water. And of course, waiting until the dishwasher is full before running it saves water and energy, too.
Go for Hot-Water Dispensers
David owns Greenne, a blog that talks about serious environmental issues and the green lifestyle as seen from different aspects: business, homelife, and politics.
If you are like me and like to drink a lot of tea, or maybe you are a frequent coffee drinker, one of the easiest ways to conserve water usage, and to cut down on your energy bill, is to use a hot water dispenser.
Most dispensers allow you to choose from different cup sizes and using a dispenser means you only use the exact amount of hot water required. If you think about how often you end up throwing away the water in a regular kettle at the end of the day, this small daily saving soon mounts up to be quite sizeable!
A self-confessed earth lover, Brett Martin is the content creator who owns This Mama Loves, a blog that features DIY projects, as well as articles on health and wellness.
We try to repurpose water as often as possible. When the kids don’t finish water bottles at school or sports, the extra waters plants or goes into pet dishes. Water used to steam veggies is used to water plants, not poured down the drain. We also use our gutters to fill our pool when it’s low instead of buying water to be trucked in.
Buy High-Efficiency Washing Machines
Based in Vancouver, Bonnie Way uses The Koala Mom as her platform to talk about motherhood and homeschooling, occasionally reviewing apps that can help in managing a household.
My favourite way of conserving water at home is my high-efficiency Maytag washing machines. This is handy for me too because my washing machine measures the load and uses just the right amount of water, so I don’t have to guess what setting to put the machine on. I also like low-flush toilets, if we ever renovate our bathrooms.
Alternate Showers and Baths
Julie works as a full-time environmental-compliance consultant while she runs Fab Working Mom Life, a family lifestyle blog that offers articles and advice on household management to parents, especially working mothers.
One way we conserve water at home is we alternate shower/bath night between my husband and myself and our toddler. My husband and I also shower together rather than taking turns. This helps conserve water overall but is mostly in an effort to avoid running out of hot water.
Mind Your Water Footprint
Manda Aufochs Gillespie is the author of the Green Mama series of books and the award-winning TheGreenMama.com website. You can visit her online and put her twenty years of green experience to work for you at https://thegreenmama.com/ask/.
The best way for North Americans to save water? Become German. Okay, that’s a joke. Sort of.
Where you live has a mighty impact on how much water a family uses. If you live in Germany or the Netherlands you will use a fraction of the water your American and Canadian counterparts use. In my experience living and traveling in many parts of the world, life is life in all the places. Nowhere was I ever particularly aware of how little or how much water was being used. It just happens that life in certain places involves consuming way more water.
Why? Low-flow faucets and toilets, grey water systems to capture and re-use run-off, and municipality-wide operations to capture rainwater and reduce fresh water use are part of it. In many parts of the world, these things are just built-in to daily living. Oh, and water tends to cost a lot more in those places: like up to five times more per litre (according to POLIS).
The way governments price and value water also dramatically affects what accounts for the biggest portion of total water use for a nation: inefficient agricultural practices and water-intensive consumer products. Water is used to make every single one of our daily consumed products. It takes 583 gallons of water to make the non-food consumer goods that an average American uses (and often throws-away) in a single day according to the Water Footprint Calculator.
Cars take 13,000 to 22,000 gallons to produce. More surprising, however, might be the 3,190 gallons of water that your smart phone took to make or the 2,108 gallons of water those cotton jeans took. A simple cotton t-shirt is nearly 660 gallons.This doesn’t account for agricultural products either. Meat alone is responsible for 30% of the US water footprint.
While we wait for our regions and nations to become water savvy, citizens can do much to both reduce their personal water footprint and send a message to companies and governments that green matters by examining their buying power. I’d recommend switching a family’s meat and dairy consumption to all organic (and preferably hyper local) and reducing the amount consumed to afford the difference. Similarly, shopping thrift stores for clothing and using the extra to invest in organic cotton goods when buying new will also help. And, ditch the mobile phone treadmill by buying used or checking out one of the smart, new ethical mobile phone companies like will Fairphone that make phones that are ethically made, easy to repair, and meant to last a really long time.
Use Water-Saving Devices
Megan McWilliams is the founder of The Green Divas, a blog that talks about simple, affordable ideas for a sustainable lifestyle. Her radio program, Green Divas Radio Show, airs once a week and has featured celebrities such as Fran Drescher and Jessica Alba.
Personally I’m a bit of a water watch dog at home and if I hear someone running water for what seems more than a few seconds, I rush in to investigate and potentially lecture about a more efficient way to use water. Of course, I have to do it less and less because my family is tired of me swooping in like a hawk every time they turn on the faucet! My favorite way to conserve water is every way I can, but if I had to choose one, I suppose I’d go with taking a shorter shower. Did you know over 1.2 trillion gallons of water is used each year in the U.S. just for showering? Replacing your shower head with a more efficient water flow one and keep your shower down to 3–5 minutes or less can make a significant difference. To get used to what 3–5 minutes feels like, pick a fun song that is 3–5 minutes long and play it (and sing along of course) during the shower.
Turn Off the Faucet
Kimberly Button grew up undergoing several serious health conditions, such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. These drove her to learn more about a healthy lifestyle and write about sustainable living. Button is a TV correspondent, having appeared in news programs on NBC and Fox, among others.
I like to cool cooking water from pasta or vegetables and use it to water my plants. Not only do you save water, but you nourish your plants, too! Turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth is also a super easy way to conserve water.
Go for Energy Savers
In Green Living Guy, green-living guy Seth Leitman shares his expertise and experience as an environmental consultant. He has written extensively, as an author and as a coauthor, about electric vehicles and ecotechnology.
There are really what I call my One-Two-Three combo packs to save on water. Water is the next oil. Also, I mean I’m the Green Living Guy here so gotta step up.
1. Water saving shower heads from Waterpik. If my kids and father in law can respect the water coming out of this shower head then anyone can. I am not sponsored by Waterpik. It’s the product. They helped on my water by $10–$20 per quarter I pay.
2. LG energy star washing machine. That’s one of my favorites. I use to spend money on water and it’s expensive in Briarcliff Manor, NY. (I told you water is expensive here!)
This saves water.
With two boys and my wife and I; this was the water saving intervention needed.
3. Electric start Energy saving water heater. When I got this water heater it was negative on the rating. Meaning it was negative energy. Helping my house to get more carbon neutral. In this case water neutral is my goals.
So to explain that yellow label you see here. The number was beyond the left part of the chart. That saves water!
Oh my washing machine was like $23 on the estimated yearly operating cost.
Grow Drought-Tolerant Plants
Jennifer is a staunch advocate of a nontoxic, eco-friendly household. Through her blog, Eco Child’s Play, she shares information, tips, and news on green parenting.
Here are five tips for saving water, some of which I need to be better at practicing too! There’s always more one can do to conserve water.
Collect water while showering in a bucket or from your bathtub to use to water plants. If you use safe, biodegradable soaps and shampoos, your plants won’t mind the shower water.
Use garden water timers for irrigation. Timers can be set to water at night when evaporation rates are low. Use drip irrigation instead of overhead sprinklers in the garden to cut down on weeds and reduce water use.
Landscape with drought tolerant plants. Beautiful succulents are trendy now in rock landscapes. Not only are they unique plants, they require less water.
Try to consume less. Buy only the amount of organic groceries you need to reduce food waste and the water needed to grow the food. Shop for gently used clothing and keep your closet trim. Did you know it takes 2900 gallons of water to grow the cotton for just one pair of jeans?
Don’t wash your car during drought or dry seasons. We don’t need our cars to be spotless all the time. When you do wash your car, find a carwash that recycles the water or drive your car onto the lawn and wash it there. That way the lawn will get watered too. Just make sure you use biodegradable, natural soap.
Water is the source of life.
Entire civilizations, such as those in Mesopotamia, India, Egypt, and China, have developed in areas where there are bodies of water, and people rely on water as the means of conducting daily activities, such as farming and fishing.
There is never a lifetime where people will not need water, which is why it is crucial to use water efficiently. With pollution, the lack of water-cleaning technology, and wasteful usage threatening to reduce what little amount there is left for people to use, human survival is at stake as well.
What are you doing to help prevent the water crisis?