According to the EPA, the average American household uses 320 gallons of water per day, and in a dry climate such as ours, a household's outdoor water use can account for as much as 60 percent of their water bill. In addition, some experts estimate that as much as 50 percent of water used for irrigation is wasted due to evaporation, wind, or runoff caused by inefficient irrigation methods and systems.
Fortunately, saving water at home does not require any significant cost outlay. Although there are many water-saving devices, the bulk of water-saving methods can be achieved at little cost.
Here are some tips and resources to help you get started:
Around the home:
• Check faucets and pipes for leaks. A small drip from a worn faucet washer can waste 20 gallons of water per day.
• Check your toilets for leaks. Put a little food coloring in your toilet tank. If, without flushing, the color begins to appear in the bowl within 30 minutes, you have a leak that should be repaired immediately. Most replacement parts are inexpensive and easy to install.
• Don't run the hose while washing your car. Clean the car using a pail of soapy water. Use the hose only for rinsing because this simple practice can save as much as 150 gallons when washing a car.
• Use a broom, not a hose, to clean driveways and sidewalk.
• Use your water meter to check for hidden water leaks. Read the house water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.
• Install water-saving showerheads and low-flow faucet aerators.
• Consider buying "low flush" toilets, which use 1 to 2 gallons per flush instead of the usual 3 to 5 gallons. Replacing an old toilet with an ultra-low volume model can result in a 70% savings in water flushed, reducing indoor water use by about 30%. Better still, most cities offer $75-$150 rebates on these new model toilets.
• Insulate your water pipes. It's easy and inexpensive to insulate your water pipes with pre-slit foam pipe insulation. You'll get hot water faster, and you’ll avoid wasting water while it heats up.
• One way to cut down on water use is to turn off the shower after soaping up, and then turn it back on to rinse. A four-minute shower uses about 20 to 40 gallons of water.
• There is no need to keep the water running while brushing your teeth. Just wet your brush and fill a glass for mouth rinsing.
• When washing dishes by hand, don't leave the water running for rinsing.
• Rinse your razor in the sink and fill the sink with a few inches of warm water for rinsing the blade.