This post was written by ScIU Undergraduate Intern, Ali Alani.
Water, the substance critical for daily life and even our survival, is quite abundant on earth. But not all water on earth is usable for our needs. Even though the majority of the earth’s surface is water, only around 2.5% of that water is freshwater. The water we use for drinking, cleaning, production, and many other vital functions is freshwater. Since the earth’s freshwater reserves are limited and required for many human activities, we need to collectively work together as a species to make sure we conserve our water usage. Decreasing wasteful water usage also provides a financial incentive as it would save families money on their water bill.
Don’t leave the sink running when not necessary
It is a common habit to leave the sink running while brushing our teeth, washing our hands, or performing similar activities at the sink. While it may not occur to you that you are wasting a lot of water at that moment, over time the impact builds up quite significantly. When leaving the sink running, you are using approximately four gallons of water a minute, which can, in the long term, be a big waste of water and money. Try remembering to turn the sink off while not directly using it.
Watch out for leaks in your water system
This is something that a lot of people tend to overlook when looking to reduce their water usage, but household water leaks alone can contribute towards an average of about 1 trillion gallons of water being wasted each year in the United States. To determine if you have a water leak in your house, you can inspect damaged toilet flappers, faucets that may be dripping, and other valves that may be leaking that you can easily access and inspect. These types of leaks can often be fixed easily and the cost of buying a tool to repair them usually pays for itself in water bill savings rather quickly. You can also monitor your water meter during times of inactivity and see if the meter increases. If it does and you can’t easily find a leak, you may have a water leak that needs to be inspected by a professional plumber. The charge to have a plumber come out won’t be made up as quickly in water bill savings as repairs you do yourself, but you will still save money in the long run.
Shorten your showers
Lots of people have begun to develop habits of staying too long in the shower, but longer showers have considerable effects on your water usage. To help decrease the amount of time you spend in the shower you can start putting alarms on your phone for 5 or 10 minutes to try and make yourself aware of how long you’re spending in the shower. You can also plug the drain for a few showers so that you can become aware of how much water you are using by seeing it rise on your ankles. Finally, you might try turning the water off as you are shaving or letting the conditioner sit in your hair. This technique won’t cut down on your time in the shower, but it will cut down on your water usage in the shower.
Wait until your dishwasher is full before using it
Your dishwasher at home uses a lot of water and energy every time it is used. This is why many recommend just keeping dishes in the dishwasher and not running it until the dishwasher is full before using it, which helps save water and energy. It is important to not overload your dishwasher as you want all the dishes to get clean. If the dishwasher is overloaded and many of the dishes don’t get properly clean as a result, it will cost even more water and energy to wash the dirty dishes again. You can also stop pre-rinsing before putting dishes in the dishwasher to lower your water usage.
Invest in high-efficiency appliances
So you’ve put in your fair share of effort to reduce your water usage and you have made a significant difference in your water usage, but do you want to go the extra mile? This one involves spending money, but wait, it’ll save you more money in the long run. Having older appliances like dishwashers, toilets, laundry machines, and other appliances that run on water can mean you have room to save more on your water bill and reduce your water usage by purchasing newer appliances. Even upgrading your showerhead to a modern one can save you around 25%-60% on your water usage compared to an older showerhead.