how to use less water at home

The average U.S. household uses more than 300 gallons of water per day, according to the EPA. Nationwide, that adds up to about 322 billion gallons a day, or enough water to fill 1,163 Empire State Buildings.

Not only is it easy to use less water, it’s good for the environment, too. The less water we use, the more we have in lakes and rivers, which we love and wildlife depend on to survive. Additionally, as water levels decrease, the concentration of pollutants increases, from both human and natural causes.

Reducing your water use is also beneficial in the short-term — it will help you save money on your water bill and your electric bill. If your home has an electric water heater, it’s likely responsible for 25 percent of your electric bill each month. And by switching to low-flow water fixtures in your house (more on that below), you could reduce your in-home water use by 35 percent. That means you could slash your annual water bill by up to 35 percent without even changing your habits.

Want to learn how to cut back? Here are our five best tips:

1. Switch to low-flow, water efficient appliances & fixtures.

The next time you’re upgrading your appliances, choose a water-saving, high efficiency replacement, whether it’s a dishwasher or a washing machine. The most efficient washing machines only use 7 gallons of water per load, while older models may use as much as 54 gallons.

Replacing your toilet with a low-flow model can save you several gallons of water per day, depending on how old your previous toilet was. If you’re not about to replace an old toilet, you can use a tank bank to cut down on how much your toilet tank uses with each flush.

The last switch you can make is to your faucets and showerheads by fitting them with water-saving, low-flow heads or aerators. A low-flow showerhead uses less than 2.5 gallons of water per minute.

2. Only run dishwashers and washing machines when they’re full.

This tip is pretty self-explanatory, but can be hard at times to follow through on. Dishwashers and washing machines are both more water-efficient when they’re full. Try to wait to run loads when you have enough to fill the machine to capacity. 

3. Don’t leave the water running.

This applies to when you’re brushing your teeth, washing dishes by hand, shaving, or any other sink activity. Running water isn’t necessary, and you can waste up to one gallon per minute. If you’re really hardcore, you can also do this to save water while showering — just turn off the water while you’re sudsing up. 

4. Stop using your garbage disposal and toilet like garbage cans.

When you put food scraps down your garbage disposal, it takes extra water to clean those scraps out at a wastewater treatment facility. No water is required to compost food scraps or put them in your trash — those are your better options.

People are often tempted to toss facial tissue and wet wipes in the toilet, but they don’t belong in the sewer, and it’s a waste of water to flush them. An older toilet may use 3.5 gallons per flush, or even as many as 7 gallons, so don’t flush anything that doesn’t belong down the toilet — toss it in your garbage instead. 

5. Check for leaks.

Did you know that you can use your water meter to check for hidden water leaks? Try this: Check the water meter at your house, and then check it again two hours later, during a time you know no water has been run. You’ll know there’s a leak somewhere if the meter doesn’t read exactly the same amount. Leaks are a huge waste of water because they’re losing water around the clock, every day.

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