How to Live With Less Water
Reduce Water Usage Around the Home
Living with less water starts at home. There are many simple ways to reduce the amount of water used for daily household activities.
In the Bathroom
- Take shorter showers – aim for 5 minutes or less. Install a shower timer if needed.
- Turn off the water when brushing teeth or shaving.
- Flush the toilet only when necessary. Do not use it as a wastebasket.
- Install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators. These simple devices reduce water flow while maintaining pressure.
- Check for and repair leaks immediately. A small drip can waste hundreds of gallons over time.
In the Kitchen
- Hand wash dishes using one basin, not leaving water running.
- Only run full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine.
- Soak pots and pans before washing to reduce scrubbing time.
- Collect water used to rinse produce for watering plants.
- Defrost frozen foods in the refrigerator instead of under running water.
- Water the lawn and garden in the early morning or evening to reduce evaporation.
- Use mulch around trees and shrubs to retain moisture.
- Choose native, drought-tolerant plants for landscaping.
- Install an automatic rain sensor on irrigation systems.
- Use a broom, not a hose, to clean driveways and sidewalks.
Conserve Water With Lifestyle Changes
In addition to efficient daily usage, I have made water conservation an ongoing lifestyle commitment.
- Fill a pitcher with tap water and store in the refrigerator instead of running the tap for cold water.
- Choose protein foods and produce with lower water footprints like beans, lentils, and root vegetables.
- Compost food scraps instead of using the garbage disposal which requires running water.
- Use damp rags for dusting and cleaning instead of wasteful paper towels.
- Look for cleaners labeled “low-VOC” that do not require excessive rinsing.
- Sweep debris from floors and counters into the trash instead of washing down the drain.
- Take military showers when camping or at the gym – wet, lather, rinse.
- Wash the car, dog, and other items on the lawn, not the driveway where water flows into storm drains.
- Choose low-water activities like hiking, biking, and reading over water sports.
Reduce Use of Disposables
- Carry a reusable water bottle and coffee mug. Refill from the tap instead of buying bottled water or take-out beverages.
- Bring reusable bags and containers for leftovers when dining out to avoid single-use takeout packaging.
- Use cloth kitchen towels and napkins instead of paper versions.
Upgrade Fixtures and Appliances
I have upgraded some fixtures and appliances in my home to increase water efficiency.
Low-flow faucets and showerheads – These fixtures restrict water flow while maintaining pressure. Easy DIY upgrades provide dramatic savings.
High efficiency toilets – Newer low-flush and dual-flush toilets use 1.28 gallons per flush compared to older models which used 3.5 gallons per flush.
High-efficiency washing machine – Front loading washers use less water than top loaders. Look for models with extra water saving cycles and sensors.
WaterSense appliances – Dishwashers, fridges, and other kitchen appliances with the EPA WaterSense label are 20% more water efficient.
Tap aerators – These inexpensive screens mix air into the water stream to maintain pressure while reducing flow.
Drip irrigation – This highly efficient system delivers water directly to plant roots in occasional drops rather than flooding the landscape.
Check for Leaks, Collect Rainwater, and Reuse Greywater
There are a few additional tactics I use to squeeze every last bit of use out of water in my home.
Check for leaks – Walk around your home looking for dripping faucets, showerheads, and toilets. Also check for damp spots which may indicate hidden pipe leaks.
Collect rainwater – Use rain barrels to capture rainwater from downspouts for later irrigation use. Just 1 inch of rain on a 1,200 sq ft roof yields over 700 gallons of water.
Reuse greywater – Greywater is gently used water from showers, sinks, and washing machines. With proper treatment it can be safely reused for irrigation or flushing toilets.
Living with less water is an adjustment, but a rewarding one. Saving water helps the environment, reduces utility bills, and builds self-sufficiency. Implement as many conservation tactics as possible at home, and adopt water-wise habits into your lifestyle. With some creativity and commitment, you can maintain your standard of living while dramatically cutting water usage. The less water you use, the better for the community and the planet.