Jul 10, 2013

How to Save Water at Home

Photo Credit: Creative Commons, Flickr User: papalars
For outsiders (and fans of Frasier and Sleepless in Seattle), Seattle is commonly considered the #1 rain recipient in the entire country.

Of course, those actually familiar with the city know that it's not even in the top ten in terms of accumulated rainfall on an annual basis. Where Seattle does rank pretty high, however, is in the number of days per year that it rains, and you can expect to see umbrellas several times a week as a result.

Seattleites looking to save some of that Pacific Northwest water are well served by implementing a rain barrel or bucket. This covers the great outdoors, but what about folks looking to improve their sustainability efforts inside? For that, let's take a look at some conservation-driven techniques for cutting down water consumption through our dishwashers, kitchen sinks and bathroom faucets.

Saving Water in the Kitchen

To maximize our improvability impact, let's consider kitchen water usage from its two main sources.


Whether you have an energy-efficient dishwasher or are still using "Old Faithful," these tips apply across the board:
  • Scrape all dishes before loading the dishwasher.
  • Only run a load when the dishwasher is completely full – or use a "short cycle" setting when appropriate.
  • Place emphasis on how you arrange your crockery: keep flat items (like plates and sheet pans) on the bottom and rounded items (like bowls, cups and mugs) on the top rack. This way, the bottom sprayers have access to the upper items and everything gets thoroughly clean the first time.
  • Try to run your "once a day" load at night when electricity is not in as much demand or at such a premium as it is during the day. This way, you save water by only running it once and you save energy by doing so at the optimum time of day. Win-win!

Doing Dishes in the Kitchen Sink

Even if you hand-wash your dishes, you can do more damage than by using a dishwasher if you're not careful:
  • Only wash once a day. Many people think that hand-washing is always better than a machine but if you're doing multiple mini loads during the day, you can end up using even more water (and electricity).
  • Again, try to do this at night – for the reasons outlined above, but also to aid in the other main part of hand-washing dishes: air drying. You should always air dry your dishes (safer/less risk of contamination, plus you don't have any towels to wash in the washing machine) and doing so with a solid night of drying time is the best possible scenario.
  • Turn off the water after you have filled your sink with hot, sudsy water and allow greasy items to soak. Scrub all dishes and allow the soap to remain on them while you complete each piece. Only turn the water back on at the end to rinse all of your dishes at one time.

Saving Water in the Bathroom

If you already take quick showers or shut off the water while brushing your teeth, turn your attention to the bathroom fixtures:
  • Invest in a low-flow showerhead in the bathtub. These little babies use less water while maintaining a strong spray and can cut your shower water consumption down from the traditional 5+ GPM (gallons per minute) to less than 2.5 GPMs, with many models using as little as 1.0 GPM!
  • If you're taking a bath, don't wait for the water to heat up before you plug the tub – do that first and adjust the temp as you go.
  • Speaking of water just running down the drain, keep pitchers around to catch water under the tub faucet (and in the kitchen sink) while you're waiting for it to warm. You can use this excess water for everything from watering your pets or plants to washing your clothes and your car.
  • For sinks, standard faucets pumped out 2.5 GPMs. Install a faucet aerator to reduce that flow down to 1.5 GPMs.
  • If it's time for a new toilet, swap out your current guzzler with a low-flow or dual flush model.
  • Don't use your toilet as a trash can – only flush appropriate items and only when necessary.
  • Whether in the sink, around the faucet or from the toilet, fix leaks and errant drips immediately. At a rate of only 1 drop per second, 2,500 gallons per year are just...gone!

What are some other ways you have found to up the ante in your water conservation efforts? Share your sustainability tips with your fellow Seattleites in the comments below! 

Jay Harris, a Home Depot sales associate, is a regular Home Depot website contributor on bathroom and kitchen projects and products. Jay's interests range from discussing kitchen faucets to writing on bathroom fixtures.


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  3. in these days we really need to know how to save water. thanks for share such nice information.. keep writing

    Anne Cole
    Waste Water Services

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