Ten tips to make your home water-friendly
1) At 30%, toilets are the single highest water users in your home. Did you know that older toilets can use up to 20 L of water every time you flush? Thankfully, newer low-flow models now use 6 L or less — a significant reduction that won’t alter performance. These savings could also reduce your yearly water bill by $100! The knowledge that you’re not flushing hard-earned money and water down the toilet should encourage you to make the switch. If money is an issue, consider calling your municipality — many now offer rebates for residents who want to go low-flow.
2) Most Canadians already know that a five-minute shower uses less water than a bath. But if your showerhead sprays anywhere from 15 L–30 L per minute, the difference might be negligible. At a rate of 10 L per minute or less, new low-flow showerheads offer substantial water savings and no difference in water pressure. And the cost of a new showerhead is minimal ($20 can get you a decent one), considering all the money you’ll be saving on both your water and electricity bills. In fact, low-flow models usually cut hot-water use in half!
3) Old school, wasteful, top-loading washing machines are slowly being replaced. New Energy Star-approved washers are now front-loading (or horizontal axis), use 30% to 50% less water, about 30% less energy, require less detergent and suck more water out of clothes in the spin cycle — which means you don’t need to dry them for as long. So if you’ve been thinking of buying a new washer or just want to save water, energy and money, this is a perfect time to make the switch. If you can’t buy a new one, remember to only wash full loads and use cold water whenever possible.
4) Dishwashers can be your best friend in the kitchen, but they do require a fair amount of energy and water. While Energy Star-certified models consume much less than conventional dishwashers, these simple tips will help maximise its efficiency: use short cycles for lightly soiled loads; wash only full loads; check and clean drains and filters regularly and air-dry as much as possible.
5) Install water aerators on all your faucets — especially in high-use areas such as the kitchen and bathroom. Water aerators pump air into the water stream, which reduces the amount of water coming out, while maintaining or increasing pressure. On average, you’ll be saving about 25%–50% or 7.7 L of water in just one minute! The best thing about water aerators is their price — only a couple of dollars for most models. They are easy to install too and actually move, so you can direct the water where you want it.
6) Leaks are probably the most wasteful way to use water in your home. Not only that, but they can be quite annoying too! Just a one drop per second leak on a faucet can amount to nearly 25 L of wasted water everyday. Often all you need to do is install a new washer and the problem is solved. Same goes for leaky toilets, which can waste as much as 750 L a day — enough to fill a swimming pool over a year. If you aren’t sure if there’s a leak in your home, check your water meter over a two-hour period when no one is using water. Any change means you’ve got a leak. For toilet leaks, just put some food dye in the tank and if the bowl changes colour after 30 minutes, it is leaking.
7) Everyone knows how it feels to leave the tap running as you wait for the water to heat up. It also wastes a lot of water. Installing insulating foam on your pipes is a simple way to prevent or minimize this problem. It’s cheap too!
8) Washing your car maybe a great way to clean off salt, dirt and bugs, but it often means you’re using way too much water. Use a bucket filled with soapy water instead of those brushes that connect to a hose and rinse sparingly. Or if possible, go to a car wash that recycles water.
9) Gardening is a great way to get nutritious, local and organic food, but there’s no need to use treated tap water. Install a rain barrel to collect water and use it to for your flowers and other plants. Morning and night watering also reduce evaporation caused by direct sunlight.
10) Many people water their lawns when it starts to look sick. The reality is that often all your lawn needs is a break. Watering less will help your grass develop longer roots — making it stronger and healthier. Also, try raising your lawnmower’s cutting height, since longer grass needs less water and doesn’t burn so easily. Or don’t cut it at all for that wild jungle look!