Water Conservation Tips for the Home

The Earth does not have a shortage of water overall; nearly three-quarters of the entire surface of the globe is covered with water. However, more than 97 percent of this water is saltwater, which makes it undrinkable. Of the remaining freshwater, nearly 70 percent is frozen in existing ice caps. This leaves approximately 1 percent of the Earth's freshwater supply available for drinking. Because drinking water is in such short supply, it's important not to waste it. Water conservation involves conscious efforts to reduce human demand for water. By reducing demand, the available water will last longer for more people to use. Everyone uses and needs water, and everyone can play an important role in conserving it.

Kitchen

In many families, the kitchen is one of the busiest rooms in the house, with food preparation, eating, and cleanup. It's possible to make dramatic changes in the amount of water you use in the kitchen by making only a few basic adjustments. Dishwashers represent a sizable portion of the water used in kitchens. Late-model dishwashers are designed to be more energy- and water-efficient, using less water than older models. Run your dishwasher only when you have a full load of dishes in it to save water. Install a low-flow kitchen faucet to reduce the flow of water from your kitchen tap, or add a low-flow aerator to your current tap. Capture water you run while adjusting water temperature and use it for other purposes, such as watering plants. Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator to eliminate the need for running water every time someone wants a cold drink.

Bathroom

Water-saving fixtures are right at home in the bathroom, too. Install low-flow faucets on sinks, showers, and bathtubs, or add aerators. Toilets manufactured prior to 1994 can consume up to 7 gallons of water for each flush. A new low-flow toilet could use as little as 1.6 gallons of water for each flush. If you cannot afford to install new toilets, you can reduce the amount of water your toilets use with each flush by filling a plastic water bottle with sand and placing one in each toilet tank. Make sure you keep the bottle away from toilet mechanisms to avoid malfunctions. Do not throw tissues and other bathroom waste into toilets. Instead, throw this garbage away in trash cans. Make a family policy not to leave water running in the bathroom sinks while brushing teeth, washing hands, shaving, and washing faces.

Lawn and Garden

Plants growing outdoors in your lawn and garden will need water, but it's possible to conserve resources as you provide for your landscaped areas. Choose plants that are native to your growing area. Plants growing natively will tend to require the amount of precipitation that falls naturally, making it less likely that you will need to provide them with supplemental irrigation. Install a rain barrel to collect rain water, and use the rain water to water plants. Apply mulch around plants to conserve moisture in the soil. If you have a backyard pool, adjust your maintenance to conserve water. Check your pool regularly to ensure that leaks are not occurring. Pool water will evaporate naturally, but you should not be experiencing dramatic water loss over time. Cover your pool when it's not in use to reduce evaporation. Maintain the chemical levels in your pool water carefully to avoid having to refill it due to chemical imbalances. When you do need to drain and/or refill your pool, consider reusing the backwash for watering some landscape plants.

For Kids

Children can be active participants in the quest to save water, so get them involved in water conservation efforts. Teach children not to run tap water unnecessarily in the kitchen and the bathroom. Involve kids in water conservation projects, such as setting up a rain barrel outdoors or installing a drip irrigation system to water landscape plants. Start a family project to look for areas where water waste might be happening, and brainstorm ways to use less water. For example, loading the dishwasher and washing machine completely before using them can reduce water waste.

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