Brett Little, GreenHome Institute

Despite living in the great lakes where water appears to be abundant, many wells, streams, and aquifers are running dry. Costs to pay for water to be delivered to your house are going up all over and even if you are on a well, that doesn’t mean you don’t pay for water.

“Most well systems including the pump, tank and softeners life are based on the amount of water passing through them and so the more water you use the more you eventually pay to replace the system,” says Brett Little of GreenHome Institute. “Conserving water is now easier than ever and does not require you to sacrifice comfort or style!”

Do you know what the number 1 user of water is in a house…..toilets! How easy is that? With the simple push of a button, you can waste a lot of water or save a lot.

Conventional toilets are 1.6 gallons per flush (GPF) and EPA Water Sense certified are 1.28. However, now you can get vacuum assisted single flush toilets like the Niagara Stealth that are rated down to .8 GPF and are proven to need less maintenance over conventional toilets. I had one for 4 years, retrofitted into an existing 1920s era home and it worked great.

Next up is switching your bathroom faucet aerators, you don’t need to change the whole faucet. You can get a .5 Gallon Per Minute aerator on Amazon for $5.00 and it is an easy DIY install. For showering switch to a 1.5 or 1.25 GPM shower head which saves a lot of water and feels just like high flow.

Outside, try setting aside space for gardening and local drought-tolerant plants. While gardening is water intensive, you at least are using it to eat food rather than waste. Drought tolerant, adaptive and/or native plants usually require no water and many times can benefit local animals and plants helping ensure we have a healthy environment. Check with your local university extension to determine what qualifies for that, you will be surprised how much choice you have. In the areas you must have grass, you can now buy low mow drought tolerant grass. I don’t know about you but I have better things to do than mow and water a lawn weekly and this grass looks and feels just the same. Ditch the expensive sprinkler system and go for rain barrels, not only do these protect your home from water damage at the foundation, keep water out of sewer thus preventing flooding during heavy rains but also provides free water for your landscape and garden. Do make sure if you are using rain barrels for gardening food that you have a food grade metal roof or green roof, asphalt shingles put out lead, coppers and other toxins.

Conserving water is now easier than ever, trendy, saves you money and does not require you to sacrifice comfort or style!  Whether you’re ready to cut back on your showers or replace your lawn with water-wise plants, there are lots of big and small ways that you can conserve water around the home.

Ways to Save Water Indoors

  • Check all faucets, pipes and toilets for leaks.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Never use your toilet as a wastebasket.
  • Defrost frozen food in the refrigerator.
  • Rinse vegetables in a full sink or pan of water.
  • Fully load your dishwasher.
  • Rinse dishes in a full sink or pan of water.
  • Wash full loads of clothes.

Ways to Save Water Outdoors

  • Don’t over-water landscaping.
  • Water your lawn or garden early in the morning or late in evening.
  • Adjust sprinklers so that they don’t water the sidewalk or street.
  • Don’t water on cool, rainy or windy days.
  • Equip all hoses with shut-off nozzles.
  • Install a rain barrell
  • Plant drought-tolerant or low water-use plants and grasses.
  • Use shrubs and ground cover to reduce the amount of grass.
  • Place mulch around plants to reduce evaporation and discourage weeds.
  • Set your mower blades one notch higher, since longer grass means less evaporation.
  • Use a pool cover to cut down on water evaporation.
  • Use a bucket instead of a hose to wash your car.
  • Use a broom rather than a hose to clean sidewalks, driveways, loading docks and parking lots.