Help save our planet—and your savings account, too
Imagine this: Your water bill comes in the mail, and instead of groaning when you see the numbers after that dollar sign, you jump for joy. While this may sound like a faraway dream, you can save money and lower your water bill with a few simple tricks. Check out these nine ways to conserve water and start saving.
1. Ditch the Old Toilet
Toilets can be major water users. A new toilet installation costs anywhere from $120 to $820 on average. If you’re wondering whether to replace your toilet, here are just a few common signs of an old, water-inefficient commode:
25 years or older
Needs frequent repairs
Has a cracked bowl or pipe
Best Toilets for Water Conservation
But which toilet upgrades conserve the most water? According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), look out for low-flow, dual-flush, or composting toilets.
These use 1.6 or fewer gallons of water for every flush compared to an older toilet, which might use closer to 7 gallons per flush, according to government wastewater standards. Low-flow toilets with the WaterSense logo also meet the EPA standards for water efficiency.
WaterSense is a water-efficiency program sponsored by the federal agency, which helps consumers find products that conserve the most water possible. Families can decrease their water use by as much as 20% to 60% if they switch to a WaterSense-labeled toilet. These savings are around $140 yearly on average.
Dual-flush toilets also come with an added feature for flushing fluids or solids, decreasing how much water you use based on your toilet contents. A WaterSense-labeled dual-flush toilet uses 1.28 gallons per flush, or a 20% decrease compared to a standard toilet.
Composting toilets work by using little or no water at all. Instead, they use sawdust, coconut coir, hemp stalks, or peat moss and a ventilation system to evaporate fluids rather than flush them away. Your composting toilet saves you up to 800 gallons of water per year.
2. Upgrade to Low-Flow Faucets
Just like with low-flow toilets, low-flow faucets with the WaterSense label offer a quick and easy solution for decreasing how much water you use in your home. According to the EPA, you can expect a 30% water flow reduction from low-flow sinks alone. In gallons, you’ll save about 0.7 gallons per minute when you swap out old fixtures.
3. Add a Bottle to Your Toilet Tank
Say you have a relatively new toilet and don’t want to invest in another option. This doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker for your quest to conserve water. An inexpensive but effective trick to conserve toilet water and make your toilet more efficient is to place a bottle in your toilet tank.
Fill a plastic bottle with some pebbles, fill it to the top with water, and then insert the bottle into your toilet tank. Your toilet won’t use as much water to fill up, as the weight of the bottle will take up space at the bottom of your tank, potentially saving you up to half a gallon of water per flush or 10 gallons of water per day.
4. Check for Leaks
Leaks are silent but costly when it comes to water bills. If your bills seem unusually high, it’s worth investigating to ensure you don’t have a leak. Some of the most common areas for leaks include:
Cracks in your toilets or pipes
Faucets or showers
Dishwashers or washing machines
Pump valves in a humidifier or water heater
Though some leaks are costlier initially, any leak will eventually waste water if left unattended. So don’t put off even the most minor drippy faucets. If, however, you’re not sure where there’s a leak in your home, it’s a good idea to hire a local plumber to inspect the house for signs of leaks.
5. Take Shorter Showers
Those hot, steamy showers can feel like the perfect way to wind down after a long day at work, but every minute you take a shower counts when you’re conserving water. According to the EPA, the average showerhead uses 2.5 gallons of water per minute (GPM).
Let’s say you take a shower for 10 minutes a day. If you cut your daily shower time by just 2 minutes, you’ll save around 5 gallons of water for every time you hop in the shower. That’s a reduction of 1,825 gallons a year.
6. Turn Off the Tap When Not in Use
The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services states that the average flow rate for a sink faucet is 2.2 GPM to 2.5 GPM. Meanwhile, WaterSense-certified faucets use 1.5 GPM or less. So believe it or not, turning the tap off while you brush your teeth can save you up to 5 GPM a day. That’s another 1,825 gallons a year.
7. Upgrade Your Appliances
Much like having an old, outdated toilet, your home appliances can also be giant water guzzlers. Dishwashers and washing machines are two of the biggest culprits when it comes to water usage. Here’s how switching to a water-conserving appliance can save you money and water.
Washing machines: A high-efficiency ENERGY STAR-certified washing machine uses 33% less water than older models or ones that aren’t certified.
Dishwashers: A high-efficiency ENERGY STAR-certified dishwasher can save you up to 3,900 gallons of water throughout the appliance’s lifetime.
Bonus tip: Beyond swapping out your old appliances, you can also save water by only washing clothes and dishes when your appliances are full and determining if you need to rinse dishes before dish-washing.
8. Switch to Water-Conserving Lawn Care Practices
Whether you hand-water or rely on a sprinkler system to keep your yard hydrated, lawn care is another area you can tweak to conserve water. The EPA says that up to 50% of outdoor water use ends up wasted. Switching to water-conserving practices can reduce that percentage.
Here are a few ways to lower your water usage when you care for your lawn:
Water your yard less frequently.
Upgrade your irrigation system.
Collect rainwater to water your gardens.
Keep your grass taller to help prevent water from evaporating on hotter days.
9. Plant Native and Drought-Resistant Plants
Having a stunning green yard often comes with a price: higher water bills. If you want to save on water bills but you’re worried about how ditching the evening watering will affect your green oasis, one thing you can do is swap out thirsty, non-native plants and replace them with native, drought-resistant plants.
Native plants thrive better than invasive ones. For example, Bermudagrass is popular for lawn grass, but it needs up to 1 to 1.25 inches of watering per week in the summer to stay green. By investing in plants that require less water, such as low-water xeriscapes, you can have that perfect lawn without the water use and the commitment needed for many non-native plants.