5 Ways to Conserve Water — and Cash

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Saving water
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America is practically drowning in a sea of daily water usage. The average family of four uses about 400 gallons of H2O each day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

All that water comes at a cost in the form of high water bills. In addition, it is taxing the resources of a planet whose water reserves are finite.

In fact, the fresh water we need to water our plants — and ourselves — makes up just 2.5 percent of all the Earth’s water, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Fortunately, you can be part of the solution instead of contributing to the problem. Water conservation opportunities abound all around you.

Following are five great ways to save water in your day-to-day life. As an added bonus, conserving water will help the green in your wallet grow.

1. Make some changes around your abode

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Chances are good that your home is full of water-wasting gadgets that can be switched out with more efficient replacements.

For example, shower heads are notorious water wasters — but they don’t have to be. According to the Arizona-based Water — Use It Wisely conservation campaign:

The previous standard for showerhead usage was about 7 gallons of water per minute (gpm), while some showerheads, like rain heads, use as many as 10 gpm. Newer, energy efficient water-saving showerheads use about 2 gpm, and with newer technology, you’ll never notice a drop in pressure or flow.

The campaign says that by switching out your shower head, you can save hundreds of gallons of water every week. Other changes you can make include replacing old toilets and faucets with more water-efficient models.

In fact, toilets are among the worst water guzzlers, accounting for up to 27 percent of daily water usage, according to the EPA. The agency adds the following advice:

Replace older models with a WaterSense labeled toilet. They use 1.28 gallons per flush or less, are certified to be high performing, and can reduce the amount of water a family uses for toilets by 20 to 60 percent.

2. Collect water in rain barrels

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If you live in an area that gets regular summer rains, it simply doesn’t make sense to waste Mother Nature’s bounty. Instead, collect that water and put it to use around your home.

Rain barrels are probably the easiest way to put summer showers to good — and cost-saving — use. Place the barrels under a gutter down spout and collect the rain. Barrels have spouts at the bottom so you can fill up containers or even hook up a hose.

According to flow-metering manufacturer Seametrics:

There are many things you can use your rain water for in and around your home. Many people use it to water their gardens and plants. You can also use it for showering, washing your car, doing laundry, or watering the grass.

Just make sure you get a barrel with a cover, so you can keep mosquitos and other critters at bay.

You’ll find rain barrels and accessories at Amazon, eBay and home improvement stores. And before you shop, don’t forget to check out Ebates and search for your favorite retailer there. That way, you can score some cash back on your purchase.

3. Stop overwatering plants and lawns

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Gardeners should make sure they’re not overwatering. Not only does it waste valuable water and money, but it can be counterproductive to the plants’ health.

Writing for ValleyCrest Landscape Co. — which is now part of BrightView — blogger Richard Restuccia lists the signs of overwatered plants, which include:

  • Soft leaves that are brown and wilted.
  • Blisters and lesions on plants.
  • Yellowing leaves on plants that show signs of stunted growth.

Restuccia suggests checking the soil regularly. If it is moist 1 or 2 inches down and you are experiencing any of the above signs, you may be flooding your poor flowers. Plant moisture meters can help you take the guesswork out of the process.

Signs of overwatering the lawn include “squishy” grass hours after watering, water noticeably running off into the street, wilting of the lawn, and any hint of blight or mold. According to the All About Lawns blog:

A deep soak a couple of times a week should be all your lawn needs. If you’re watering more than that, cut back and see what happens.

4. Take showers instead of baths

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Who among us doesn’t enjoy a good, long soak in a tub? But that indulgence comes at a price for both the environment and your wallet.

A typical bath uses 70 gallons of water. By contrast, a five-minute shower only requires between 10 and 25 gallons, according to Melissa Breyer at TreeHugger.com.

Can’t stand the idea of giving up the tub? Breyer has some advice:

If you don’t drain your bath after, you can use that water to flush the toilet and water plants. Don’t be indulgent with your baths, but if you do, don’t let that good water go to waste.

5. Wash dishes in the dishwasher

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This may seem counterintuitive — when you hear all that water whooshing around in your dishwasher, it sure sounds like a waste.

Au contraire, according to Peter Lehner, former executive director of the National Resources Defense Council and now a senior attorney with Earthjustice. He writes:

Hand-washing your dishes can use up to 27 gallons of water per session, compared to just 3 gallons for a new Energy Star-rated dishwasher.

Breyer adds some additional tips of her own. She says many dishwashers no longer require a pre-rinse and that “a good scrape should suffice.” Check your dishwasher’s manual to be sure.

Also, Breyer stresses the importance of loading your dishwasher correctly, and offers her own advice.

Do you have tips for slashing your water costs? Let us know why by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

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