Advice on how to stop wasting water often includes various ways of reusing water.
Watering houseplants with cooking water, for example. It also includes how to maintain your home’s plumbing.
In this post, I want to focus on how letting water run unnecessarily wastes water.
How, you ask, can we waste water? It goes down the drain into the sewer. Then the wastewater treatment plant discharges it back into a river or lake. We can reuse it over and over.
Yes, but while you’re letting water run, you’re wasting water that has been treated to drinking water standards. It costs money to treat it and money to pump it to your house.
The wastewater treatment plant is downstream from the intake valve at the water treatment plant. So if you live in a drought-stricken area, letting water run unnecessarily takes water away from your community. Some other community will treat and use it.
Check your water bill. Chances are you pay one rate for the first however many gallons you use. Above that figure, you pay a higher rate.
Stop wasting running water in the kitchen
We would all rather drink cold water than tepid water.
Sometimes people let the water run until it gets as cold as possible before they fill their glass.
Fill a pitcher with water and keep in in the refrigerator instead. It will be colder than the coldest tap water. You won’t have to wait for it to get cold enough. And you won’t be letting water run directly from the faucet to the drain.
2. Defrost food in the refrigerator
Instructions on a package of frozen shrimp suggest thawing it under running water for two minutes. If you have a fairly new kitchen sink with an aerator, you probably send about 4.4 gallons of water down the drain. An older faucet may waste even more.
How about putting the shrimp or whatever else you want to defrost in the refrigerator about twelve hours before you want to use it? You save those two minutes of standing around, too. The food is ready to cook as soon as you’re ready to start.
3. Rinse fruits and vegetables in a bowl
Unless you’re rinsing only one potato or other item, don’t rinse fruits and vegetables under running water. That wastes all the water that comes out of the faucet and goes down the drain while you put a rinsed piece down and pick up another.
Put some water in a bowl or pan. Rinse everything in that water. It gets just as clean without wasting running water.
4. Use the garbage disposal sparingly if at all
You already have to put bones in the garbage. Put the rest of the meat scraps there, too. If possible, compost all the vegetable scraps. Otherwise, put them in the garbage. The garbage disposal wastes a lot of running water.
5. Fill a sink or tub to rinse dishes
If you use a dishwasher, you shouldn’t have to rinse the dishes before you load it. Unfortunately, dishwashers don’t always work as well as they should.
So first, scrape plates into the garbage or compost pail. Be sure to get as much fat or oil out of pots and pans as possible, by the way. Don’t pour fat down the drain.
Then, if you want to rinse more thoroughly, put some water a tub, a large bowl, or a sink and rinse the dishes in that.
Do the same when you wash dishes by hand. Most kitchens have double sinks. Use one for washing and the other for rinsing. Actually, you’ll use even less water if you use portable tubs of some kind for both wash water and rinse water. And it will be easier for you to reuse that water in the garden.
Stop wasting running water in the bathroom
It’s easy to turn the water on full blast just to wet your comb or toothbrush.
But you don’t need that much water for most purposes. Unless you’re filling the sink, turn it on as little as possible.
7. Turn the water off while you brush your teeth
Dentists tell us we should brush our teeth for at least two minutes. I have already mentioned that more than four gallons of water can needlessly go down the drain in that time.
My dental hygienist told me that the best way to get plaque off the back of my lower teeth is to start there and not rinse the brush at all. So now I only need to run water to rinse the toothbrush.
8. Turn the water off while you wash your hands
We’re supposed to wash our hands for 20 seconds. Turning the water off during that time won’t save as much water as turning it off to brush our teeth, But why waste running water for even 20 seconds?
Turn the water on long enough to wet your hands. Then turn it off. Lather your hands with soap, including the backs of your hands, between the fingers, and under your rings. Scrub for 20 seconds. Then turn the water on just long enough to rinse.
Oh, and washing your hands in cold water may be uncomfortable, but it gets your hands just as clean. The soap lather, washes germs down the drain. You can’t get water hot enough to kill them without injuring yourself.
9. Put water in the sink to rinse your razor
Every few strokes of a razor, you need to rinse off the shaving cream (or whatever else you use) and the little hairs. But again, if you’re letting the water run while you shave, you’re wasting running water.
Put just enough water in the sink to immerse the blades. Then every few strokes, put them under water and shake until they come clean. You’ve probably saved gallons of water.
10. Don’t use the toilet as a trash can
It’s easy to toss tissues, stray hairs, and other items into the toilet and flush. With a modern low-flow toilet, you’ve flushed 1.6 gallons of water for that little bit. With an older toilet, you may have flushed as much as 5 gallons.
Keep a waste basket in the bathroom. Use it for those little odds and ends.
11. Stay close to the tub while you wait for hot water
Unless you like cold baths or showers, you have to run the water for a while until it’s hot. It’s tempting to use the time to do something else. But if you don’t start to fill the tub or take your shower as soon as the water gets hot, you’re not only wasting running water. You’re wasting the energy it takes to heat the water that’s going down the drain.
Think of waiting for hot water as a task that deserves your full attention. Let the water run on your hand until it’s hot.
12. Get a low-flow showerhead
Showers use less water than tub baths. But only if you take short showers.
A tub holds between 30 and 45 gallons. So filling it a third uses between 10 and 15 gallons. A standard showerhead uses about 2.5 gallons per minute. So a shower that lasts 6 minutes uses 15 gallons.
Low-flow shower heads use only 1.5 gallons per minute. Even if you’re in and out of the shower quickly, saving a gallon a minute adds up. Click on the banner below and search for “low-flow shower heads” to select which ones are right for you.
Stop wasting running water outside
Better still, use a commercial carwash. It recycles the water it uses.
When you wash the car in your driveway, the water goes straight to the sewer.
If you prefer to wash your car yourself, fill a bucket with water and use that. Use the hose only when you’re ready to rinse.
14. Use a broom to clean the driveway or deck
Running a hose for five minutes can use 32 gallons of water. Sweeping the driveway or deck with a broom uses none at all. It doesn’t take much longer, and you get better exercise.
15. Use a soaker hose where possible
Installing an in-ground sprinkler system and putting it on a timer delivers water more efficiently than anything else you can do. There are creative ways not to use running water at all.
But to save running water without digging up your yard to install the system, I recommend drip irrigation or soaker hoses. These methods minimize both runoff and evaporation. Click on the Amazon banner above to choose your best options.
One time where you need to leave water running
16. Let water drip in very cold weather
You don’t want your pipes to freeze. At best, you lose running water. At worst, a pipe will burst and flood the house.
If you live in an area that regularly experiences frigid temperatures, chances are your pipes have adequate insulation. You may have more of a problem in warmer areas where prolonged freezing temperatures occur less frequently.
The first order of defense, short of getting extra insulation, is to leave cabinet doors open for kitchen and bathroom fixtures along outside walls.
In more extreme winter temperatures, let those faucets drip slightly. Use cold water, and allow the faucet to drip just enough to keep water circulating.
Remember which faucets you’ve let drip. Then turn the water off as soon as it’s safe.
How much water do I use when I . . . / Avon Lake Regional Water
Kitchen and bathroom faucets are among the easiest places to save water / Home Water Works